There's no doubt it's a stiff pour: $58 is a lot for Wigle's new bourbon, especially with $10 more for shipping. But those interested in the evolution of American craft spirits, and especially our region's own distillers, should pay attention to the first Pennsylvania bourbon in 40 years from Pittsburgh's whiskey pioneer. The cost is amped by the fact that Wigle is one of just a few distilleries making bourbon from Wapsie Valley corn, an expensive heirloom variety grown organically in Pennsylvania with less yield than more common industrial corns - but also more flavor. There is some wheat and barley to round out the mash bill, but the corn's distinctive earthiness cuts through the cherry-cocoa notes in its deeply ambered barrel hue (despite only 15 months in small barrels). One bartender said he thought it lacked the subtle complexity of his favorites. But as I tasted it in cocktails, and the spirit rose boldly with spice and young heat even over a sweet Old Fashioned, that single-minded, unique corn flavor is exactly what I liked.
- Craig LaBan
Wigle Organic Pennsylvania Bourbon, $58 per 750 ml. bottle of standard 92 proof ($75 for 107-proof cask strength) at wiglewhiskey.com. Shipping $10 but free on orders over $100. Also available at the Fat Ham for $10 a shot.