Wigle’s Afterglow Ginger Whiskey
One of the innovations of our friends at Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey is to release spirits on a seasonal schedule, rather like breweries do. They get their inspiration for these seasonal releases two ways: good, old fashioned brainstorming; or through market research done by a class project at Chatham University’s Food Studies Graduate Program, as was the case with today’s subject, Afterglow Ginger Whiskey.
The first time around these spirits are put in a probationary status they call ‘whims.’ If it doesn’t quite work, or is hard to replicate, or isn’t sufficiently popular, it was a fun experiment we’ll never see from again. But if Wigle likes it, and so do we, and it can be done repeatedly, the spirit becomes part of the annual release schedule. Today, we celebrate Afterglow’s graduation to the annual schedule, where it will be taking the Valentine’s Day slot.
One of the fascinating things about small batch distilling is just how different separate batches might turn out; something that’s perhaps especially the case with distillers like Wigle who like to keep innovating. Our bottle of last year’s Afterglow ran out long ago (and once the batch is done, you have to wait until next year’s, if there is one. See ‘whims.’); so we couldn’t taste them side by side. But from memory last year’s version was sharply spicy. It was like a fresh, natural alternative to fireball. This year’s version is warm and sweet, with a smooth, strong ginger flavor. I don’t know whether the differences are merely based on the unique qualities of this year’s crop of ginger and wheat, or if there were changes to the ingredients or process. In any case, last year’s Afterglow made you sit up and notice; this year’s lets you sit back and relax. It’s made with a small-cask wheat whiskey base, fresh-roasted Pennsylvania ginger, and a touch of brown sugar.
The great thing about flavored spirits when they’re done well, as this one is, is that they simplify the mixing. Most of the cocktail is already in the bottle. So, it’s perfect for something like a simple highball. Just add some club soda, and you have yourself the best, most interesting Kentucky Mule you’ve ever tasted. We took that and went a little further, adding some ruby port and a little juice for some added depth.
Very Ginger Highball Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz Afterglow Ginger Whiskey
- 1 oz ruby port
- 1/2 oz peach juice
- 4 oz club soda
- Add first three ingredients to bottom of a highball glass.
- Stir gently to mix.
- Add ice.
- Float club soda gently on top.