Visitors to the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships were treated to outstanding play, live music, tasty food offerings and cool beverages. Included was the opportunity to get introduced to an alcoholic spirit that blends what at first blush might seem to be an unusually unique set of ingredients.
Among the vendors occupying booths in the hospitality tent were representatives of Whicked Pickle Spicy Pickle Flavored Whiskey. They were there offering samples and mixing craft cocktails for passersby at the 2021 tournament, held recently at East Naples Community Park.
Whicked Pickle is a melding of whiskey, bourbon, and dill pickle and pepper flavorings inspired by the legendary pickleback shot, which involves chasing a shot of whiskey with a shot of pickle brine.
“There are a million flavored whiskeys out there, but nobody had ever done an all-in-one, pickleback-type product,” explained Jordan Germano, communications manager for the libation’s producer, Holladay Distillery, located in Weston, Missouri. “It’s something that we recommend just enjoying on its own, chilled as a shot, and now we’ve come up with a lot of different ways you can enjoy it that will appeal to more people.”
Some of those different ways were available for sampling at the tournament in the form of a “Whicked Mary” (Bloody Mary) and “Pickle and Ginger” (ginger ale) cocktail. These are just two of nine mixed drinks the brand has created in touting Whicked Pickle as a worthy substitute for vodka or gin in cocktails.
“A very unique flavor, not sweet, nice and tart, good flavor,” said Tom Adamczyk of Naples after trying the “Whicked Mary” and the “Pickle and Ginger.”
Joe and Rhonda Lombardi of Lely Resort were also pleased after sampling both.
“They were excellent. They taste like pickles and I love pickles,” said Rhonda Lombardi. Her husband’s sense of humor got the better of him and he laughingly responded with, “I thought they were great too. They taste like alcohol and I love alcohol. They were delicious.”
Whicked Pickle is relatively new to the market and it’s the product of an incredibly short period of time between conceptualization to production that occurred last year.
“Our executive team was sitting down after a long day and they are always trying to think of what’s next in product innovation, what’s the next thing coming up on the market,” said Germano. “One of them was eating pickles and the other was having a whiskey cocktail and they started talking about the pickleback shot. They started discussing what that would look like and they wanted to make a spicy version of pickleback. So, they got with our product development team and one thing led to another and after making different batches and some tweaks, they came up with Whicked Pickle, the spicy, pickle-flavored whiskey with some heat on the end.”
She said the idea popped up in June and by October, Whicked Pickle was in the bottle and on shelves in three Midwestern states.
“The buzz that we received from that was pretty immediate from distributors and retailers,” explained Germano. “A lot of people had seen the social media posts. We had a couple posts go viral and so customers were going into their stores in other states and requesting it. So, by January of 2021, we had started the process of distributing nationally.”
How did the relationship between Holladay Distillery and the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships organizers come about?
“We are really big on partnerships and we always like to get involved with areas we feel are relevant to our products,” said Germano. “We thought, ‘pickleball, Whicked Pickle, they kind of go hand in hand and it would be a fun addition to the pickleball community.’ So, we reached out to get some information. The team at the U.S. Open was great and they were excited to work with us and it just felt like a really good fit. It just seemed like a great opportunity for both sides. I think it’s a fun spirit that just adds to the experience, for the spectators especially.”
For more information on Whicked Pickle Spicy Pickle Flavored Whiskey and where it can be purchased, visit whickedpickle.com/.