Why We Call the 2023 Summer Distiller’s Cut Abbey’s Blend
The Whiskey Del Bac team is known for its mesquited and unmesquited expressions that are available year-round and now seasonally within the Global Cask Collection, which includes Frontera, Normandie, and Ode to Islay. One of the best kept secrets at Whiskey Del Bac has always been the Distiller’s Cut series. The Distiller’s Cut series includes three separate releases each year where the production team innovates and plays with their blending and finishing skills to deliver cask-strength expressions. Distiller’s Cut whiskeys push the boundaries of what the production team has created in the past and empowers them to test what they could release in the future at a larger scale. Since the Distiller’s Cut series are limited and unique expressions, the Whiskey Del Bac team has wrapped them into Whiskey Club releases only available at the distillery as of 2022.
When planning this year’s Distiller Cut releases, Head Distiller Mark A. Vierthaler challenged each of the distillers to create their own blend. The Summer Distiller’s Cut was created by distiller Abbey Fife, who spent nearly a decade as a bartender and bar manager before finding her passion in the world of distilling.
Abbey began the creation of her blend by taking notes on all of their finishing barrels individually. Abbey shares, ”The Rhum Agricole finish has such bright, tropical notes of pineapple and papaya. The Mesquited Tequila Petit Eau was more delicate and floral. I thought the characteristics of each would compliment the other well. Then it was a matter of finding the ratio of the two that would let each shine through without overpowering. Also, the Petit Eau is mostly water, so I knew that component would take a bit more of a back seat and play the role of bringing the proof of the overall product down.” The blend was also given a base of Classic to ensure it remained distinctly Whiskey Del Bac.
As the blend was allowed to “marry” in a stainless tank, the mesquite flavor came forward more than Abbey initially anticipated, creating a subtle wisp of mesquite smoke that gives the pineapple notes a grilled flavor reminiscent of a beach barbeque.
Abbey’s favorite thing about this expression is how it has evolved over time as they worked to perfect the blend. The collaboration among the production crew was essential in creating this unique expression, which Abbey notes would not have been possible without the input of the entire team.
“My name may be on the bottle, but like all of our products, this was very much a collaborative effort. Three palates are better than one. This blend would not be what it is without the input of the whole production crew.”Abbey Fife
Abbey’s journey to Whiskey Del Bac began when she managed a retail shop and tasting room for a small distillery in New Hampshire. She was inspired by the distillers’ work and decided to transition from the service industry to the production side of things. As she puts it, “Through the window between the tasting room and the distillery, I watched and learned what the crew did and decided it looked way more fun than running a bar.” She eventually landed a job as an assistant distiller at a brewery/distillery in Phoenix and later connected with Whiskey Del Bac when they needed help in the distillery for a few hours one afternoon. Abbey’s enthusiasm and passion for learning about distilling convinced Stephen Paul, the co-founder of Whiskey Del Bac, to take her on as a full-time distiller despite her lack of experience.
Two years later, the Whiskey Del Bac team is wildly fortunate to have Abbey on the team. She was instrumental in bringing the Summer Distiller’s Cut to life and she recently transitioned to a sales role within the organization. Abbey now brings her in-depth production knowledge to the market and can share more than just the tasting notes of the whiskeys we handcraft here in Arizona. If you’re ever in the distillery or out in Tucson and see Abbey please say hi. We’ve been telling her all week how much we’re enjoying this Summer Distiller’s Cut and we know that you will too.