We don’t just make whiskey, we’re also pretty big fans of drinking it. When you work with as many bartenders and industry professionals as we do, we usually hear about the latest trends. Some are excellent, others are less so. We’re not here to pass judgment; we just report what we hear.

Still, we’ve been hearing a lot about flavor pairing flights from our Whiskey Guardians on the West Coast. They’re a series of small pours with complementary flavors that build and grow as you work your way through them. Many people trace their history back to the picklebacks that began gaining popularity on the East Coast in the mid-2000s.

pairing flights are... a series of small pours with complementary flavors that build and grow as you work your way through them

If you’ve never had a pickleback before, just chase a pour of whiskey with a shot of pickle brine, and there you go. You’ve just had a pickleback, and one of the first pairing flights. As more and more restaurants began to pickle their own vegetables, this trend became more widespread. After all, you have to do something with all of that excess brine, and it works perfectly to neutralize the burn of the whiskey’s ethyl alcohol. Just imagine, all of the flavor with none of the burn. Yeah, it’s not necessarily our first preference either. We like the burn. But we’re all for exploring new flavors, and that’s where the pairing flights shine.

We talked to Angel Teta, our Portland-based Whiskey Guardian about her experience with pairing flights. “They were built on the pickleback tradition with the addition of juices and light, cold beers. I think of it as the Kentucky version of a Sangrita in a way. Tony Gurdian, an incredible bartender and huge supporter of Angel’s Envy, created the first version of this succession at one of my most successful pairing dinners in Portland. It was taken in this order: Angel’s Envy, pickle juice, fresh grapefruit juice, and then a short 4 oz. lager. I’ve recreated this a few times due to its popularity, the most recent succession being Angel’s Envy, pickle juice, and then a short pour of grapefruit Radler. It’s been a huge hit.”

Pairing flight to try: Angel’s Envy, pickle juice, and then a short pour of grapefruit Radler