If there’s one truism about the alcohol industry, it’s that every company would prefer to capture every possible demographic and segment of the market if at all possible. This is certainly true for Pabst, whose iconic PBR has long been associated with the classic boilermaker: A pint and a shot. But why rely on someone else’s shot of whiskey, when the customer could be drinking your own?
That’s no doubt what some Pabst exec was thinking when they cooked up the upcoming PBR whiskey, whose label (which you can see above) was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). And from that label, we can gather some very interesting impressions about exactly what PBR whiskey might be like.
First of all: The hilarious admission that the product is “aged five seconds” means that PBR will no doubt be calling this “white whiskey,” although the term “moonshine” would be just as accurate. Those two terms mean essentially the same thing, the “illegal” stigma of “moonshine” having been replaced by commercial moonshine sold and regulated by the government just as whiskey is. The label was approved with Michigan’s New Holland Brewing as the distiller, which makes sense—Pabst does not have the capacity or facilities to distill its own whiskey, and the two companies share a distribution partnership. We can thus surmise that New Holland is distilling this stuff for Pabst.
Also of note is the unusual mashbill: 52 percent corn, 27 percent malted barley, 17 percent wheat and 4 percent rye. Simply having four different grains is already unusual (most bourbon mashbills have either rye or wheat, not both), but the high percentage of malted barley is especially odd as well. In general, the high percentages of corn, barley and wheat suggest a sweeter, fuller dram, although it’s hard to know exactly how those flavors will present in a spirit that has been aged “5 seconds.” One thing that is certain: If PBR ever did choose to age this spirit in newly charred barrels, the greater than 50-percent corn content means they could legally call it bourbon. We wouldn’t be surprised if some of the distillate is already resting in barrels, and we’ll see a young, aged version in a year or two.
The whiskey project hasn’t yet been officially confirmed by Pabst, which is likely still getting all of its ducks in a row, but expect to see a big marketing push put behind it once they’re ready to put it out into the world. We look forward to tasting a sample at Paste in the future.