Whiskey Review: Piehole Apple Pie Whiskey

I’m a sucker for apple pie. There have been more than a handful of occasions where I’ve been on a strict keto diet and doing great losing some weight, only to be presented with a slice of apple pie and have all my efforts thrown out the window. I can’t help it. Much like how I couldn’t help picking up a bottle of this apple pie whiskey and giving it a try.

History

The bottle claims that this whiskey is produced in Canada by the Piehole Distilling Company, which is really just a DBA (“doing business as” or sub-brand) of spirits giant Diageo. Launched in 2014, the brand focuses on pie flavored versions of Canadian whiskey. But while the bottles are still on the shelves, it looks like their twitter account hasn’t been active since 2016 and their website no longer is operational… I can’t say things are looking promising so far.

Founded in 1997 by a merger of Guinness and the Grand Metropolitan company, Diageo has become one of the world’s biggest producers of spirits and other alcoholic beverages. Headquartered in London, England, the company owns a number of Scottish, Canadian, and American distilleries.

Product

There’s not a whole lot of information about the contents of this bottle, and the fact that their website is now just a blank page doesn’t help reduce any of that mystery. According to the bottle, this is a Canadian whiskey with apple pie liqueur, which gives us at least a few hints.

Given that Diageo owns Crown Royal, it’s a good bet that the base spirit for this comes from there. That spirit starts as a grain bill of 64% corn, 31.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley. The grain mash is fermented, distilled in one of their twelve continuous distillation stills, and aged in a mixture of new and re-used charred oak barrels. 

For the second part of the equation, there’s a great big question mark around what actually constitutes an “apple pie liqueur.” I’m betting they didn’t ferment and distill an actual batch of apple pies, so it’s more likely that this is a neutral spirit of some sort that has been flavored to taste like apple pie and then significantly sweetened.

The finished Piehole whiskey is then therefore a combination of these two components, but the proportion (and what other things are added) are unknown.

Packaging

I actually really like this bottle and this label, despite it being guilty one of my major pet peeves.

Overall, the bottle sports a square body with a gently sloped and fluted shoulder that ends in a medium length neck. The whole thing is capped off with a plastic screw-on top.

What really sets this apart is the labeling. It’s designed with a 1940’s or 1950’s era theme, with the appropriate fonts and a pin-up girl in the appropriate art style sitting on a massive slice of pie. It’s cheeky and fun, and even if the label obscures the whiskey inside, let’s be honest — you didn’t buy this for the color of the spirit.

Neat

Of all the supposedly apple pie flavored whiskey I’ve had (and it’s been an unfortunately large number), this is the first that actually smells like a proper apple pie. Normally, there’s a green apple bitterness thrown in there which makes it more reminiscent of a green Jolly Rancher than a pie, but in this case it’s sweet and only slightly crisp with just the right amount of butter aroma.

Taking a sip, this absolutely nails the flavor of a slice of apple pie. There’s the sweetness of the sugar and the delicious fruity crispness of the apples, but mixed in are the cinnamon and clove aspects that you would expect as well. It even has that same buttery texture to it somehow.

On Ice

You probably aren’t actually going to drink this on the rocks. This is something you are either going to do in a shot (like an uncultured college aged heathen), or add to a cocktail to make for interesting flavor combinations. But trying it with a bit of ice is a good indicator for what kinds of flavors are going to come through in your eventual completed mixed drink.

Surprisingly, this holds up really well to the cold temperatures and a bit of dilution. Normally sweetened whiskey has a tendency to start tasting like flat Coca-Cola with some ice, but here the sweetness and the weight of the spirit is just slightly attenuated and still damn pleasant. It’s a good sign.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

Skipping the usual muddled sugar cube (as there is definitely plenty of sweetness in here as it is), this is actually a really interesting cocktail.

There’s some nice spicy notes and bright fruit in the flavor of the base spirit which is interacting nicely with the darker and richer aspects of the angostura bitters. And the bitterness is being balanced nicely by the sweetness of the liqueur.

I don’t think that this is something that I would order on a night out, but I might mix up a few of these if I were sitting outside enjoying a fall evening. Objectively speaking, this is actually an interesting and functional cocktail.

Fizz (Mule)

There’s something off here, and I think it’s the fruit.

In a mule, the two components you add are ginger beer and often a bit of lime juice. In a complementary base spirit, there’s a richer and darker flavor that balances those ginger and lime flavors out, but that is completely missing here. It’s bitter and unbalanced. Call it a Karen.

Overall Rating

There’s an open question here as to whether apple pie flavored whiskey is your thing. My wife hates whiskey, and doesn’t care much for apple pie, so this is probably her kryptonite. But it’s explicitly stated purpose is to be a whiskey that evokes the experience of eating an apple pie, and it certainly accomplishes that better than anything I’ve ever tried.

Piehole Apple Pie Whiskey
Produced By: Piehole
Owned By: Diageo
Production Location: Canada
Classification: Flavored Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 35% ABV
Price: $13.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:

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Overall Rating: 4/5
Forget that pumpkin spice latte… we have a new fall beverage around here.

3 thoughts to “Whiskey Review: Piehole Apple Pie Whiskey”

    1. I found my bottle at Total Wine, but given that the marketing department isn’t putting a ton of work into this anymore it is possible that you might not see it on shelves all that often.

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