Sponsored by WhistlePig.
With its leather couches and easy chairs, warm woodwork and copper-topped tables — not to mention an ample supply of award-winning whiskey — the newly opened WhistlePig Whiskey Parlour in Quechee, Vermont, is the cozy cocktail den you’ve always wished you had.
Housed in the recently renovated Parker House on Quechee Main Street (which will soon be home to the Parker Bar + Bistro as well), the tasting room opened in September. The Parker House had most recently operated as an inn, and WhistlePig has transformed what had been adjoining guest rooms into a comfortable second-floor oasis with a dash of Prohibition-era speakeasy flair.
Stately but welcoming, the Parker House is the perfect setting. Its slate-shingled mansard roof, brick façade, and ornate ironwork make the 10,000-square-foot French Second Empire–style gem a standout even in a neighborhood with several buildings that, like the Parker House, are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ottauquechee River runs just behind the property, and the iconic Quechee covered bridge and waterfall are a stone’s throw away.
But we’re here for the tasting room and, naturally, for the array of acclaimed whiskeys that it showcases. “We’ll always get a share of special releases as they come out,” says Mark Kanya, WhistlePig’s director of food and beverage, “so there will be plenty to please both the casual visitor and the serious collector.”
Indeed, on the day of our visit, the tasting room’s lineup ranges from PiggyBack, a pure rye aged for six years that has notes of citrus and spice perfect for cocktails, to the company’s oldest expression so far, the top-of-the-line 18-year oak-aged double malt, which comes in a bottle made with exquisite Vermont craftsmanship (more on that in a moment). In between, there are 10-, 12- and 15-year versions to explore, each with its own unique finish and flavor palate. And if it’s an investment you seek, the exclusive The Boss Hog collectible series, now in its eighth iteration, celebrates whiskey flavors and finishes from around the world.
The variety you’ll find here speaks to WhistlePig’s determination never to rest on its laurels, but instead to continue to push the boundaries of innovation. Last year, while the nation was largely in lockdown, WhistlePig debuted HomeStock, touted as “the first-ever crowd-sourced whiskey, blended live by thousands of fans.” Other notable offerings include the “triple-terroir” FarmStock (made with WhistlePig’s own grain, water, and wood) and the special release RoadStock, a double-finished rye created in partnership with California’s Jordan Winery and Firestone Walker Brewery and finished during a 600-mile cross-country round-trip aboard an 18-wheeler that had been converted into a rolling rickhouse (that is, a warehouse used for storing barrels of aging whiskey).
At the WhistlePig tasting room, whiskeys are the undeniable stars, with most available for purchase by the shot or by the bottle, but WhistlePig fans will find a full complement of related merchandise as well. There are logoed hats and socks, of course, along with a few surprises. WhistlePig Coffee, created in partnership with Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co., is seasoned in whiskey barrels before roasting, creating an inspired marriage of flavors. WhistlePig Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup is tapped from local trees (including many on the company’s farm in Shoreham, Vermont) and aged for up to a year in freshly emptied whiskey barrels; the resulting notes of toffee and rye will have you finding new excuses to add syrup to everything. The Barrel-Aged Maple Bitters are a must for any self-respecting home bar, while the pocket-sized Old Fashioned Cocktail To-Go offerings (Ginger Fashioned, Orange Fashioned, Smoked Fashioned) are ideal for when portability is key.
With its new digs in the Parker House, WhistlePig is a tenant of Simon Pearce, the innovating glassware company that has been based in the historic mill next door since 1981. Simon Pearce purchased the Parker House in January 2020, reuniting properties that were previously linked going back to 1857, when J.C. Parker purchased the mill and built the house.
This isn’t the first collaboration for WhistlePig and Simon Pearce, though. Each bottle of the second edition of the signature 18-year malt rye, released earlier this year, was crowned with a handcrafted Simon Pearce stopper. “I guess you could say that was our first date,” Kanya jokes. “From there, we’ve started building what we feel is a great partnership between two premium Vermont brands.” Since then, Simon Pearce has also created an exclusive line of Shoreham Whiskey Glasses, named for the town where WhistlePig is based.
At the Parker House, the two brands will stand side by side, with Simon Pearce soon launching the Parker Bar + Bistro on the first floor. The new enterprise will be a more casual companion restaurant to The Mill at Simon Pearce, the company’s award-winning restaurant next door.
Next year WhistlePig will see its 15th anniversary of its founding, having gotten its start with the purchase of a run-down dairy farm in Shoreham in 2007. Bent on a mission of returning American rye whiskey to the place of prominence it had once held — while acknowledging that the aging process would delay the release of WhistlePig’s own product for quite some time — the company began by importing rye distilled in Canada, which it then finished and bottled on the farm.
Because rye requires a relatively short growing season, it is well-suited for northern climates, and a majority of the farm’s 500 acres is now dedicated to its growth. In 2015, with opening of its on-site distillery, WhistlePig brought its entire process under one roof, so to speak. The rye is harvested, mashed, fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled right there in Shoreham.
The results speak for themselves — and the proof awaits you in Quechee.
The WhistlePig Whiskey Parlour is open seven days a week from noon until 9 p.m.; reservations are encouraged. To reserve your spot online, go to whistlepigwhiskey.com/tasting-rooms.