The bottle features the colours of the jersey Lester Piggott wore when he rode the winner of 1954 Epsom Derby.
Never Say Die Bourbon, which was distilled and matured in Kentucky, has been ocean-aged on a six-week trip across the Atlantic, before finishing its maturation at the White Peak Distillery in Derbyshire, England.
At odds of 33-1, Never Say Die became the first American born horse in 70 years to win the Derby in front of 250,000 spectators, which included Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill. The then unknown Piggot was seventeen.
White Peak Distillery’s David Wild, co-founder of Never Say Die, says:
“My synapses fused when I heard another story. A woman in Liverpool called Mona Best pawned her jewellery and bet it all on the horse because she liked the name – and she won big. With that money, she founded the Casbah Club in Liverpool and bought her son, Pete Best, some drums, and then his mates Paul (McCartney) and John (Lennon) some electric guitars, so they could form a band called The Quarrymen. They played their first gigs at the Casbah Club and, of course, became The Beatles – with Ringo Starr replacing Pete as the drummer.
“Paul McCartney has even said that without Never Say Die, there would be no Beatles.”
On the west-coast of Lancashire, true American spirit meets authentic Northern soul with Bankhall Distillery Bank Sweet mash. American Vince Oleson used to work as head distiller of the Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn, New York. He is originally from Arizona.
Then he relocated to the delights of the famous seaside resort named after a historic drainage channel that released discoloured water into the Irish Sea. Now he is challenging whisky expectations by making the first Blackpudlian or Sangrownian whisky.
The original Bankhall distillery, which closed down between the wars, was in Liverpool.
There were originally five English whisky distilleries in the area.
Oleson, whose bourbon-style, high rye sweet mash is aged exclusively in new, charred American oak casks, says:
“The distillery has a youthful atmosphere and bourbon-style whiskey has a younger profile than Scotch.
“Younger people are more likely to drink bourbon and to mix it, whereas there is a reluctance to use single malts for mixing. So, it is a fun drink. We call it Kentucky by the sea, but we are serious about the product. Blackpool is a perfect place to craft our whiskey. Sea air, irreverent energy and raw spirit.
“I’m a spiritual New Yorker so the idea of Blackpool as the Coney Island of the UK was rather appealing! It makes a great launchpad for our adventures in distilling. We like to change the conversation about English whisky from being so ridiculously single malt focussed.”
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appear worldwide, and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photographs courtesy of White Peak Distillery and Bankhall Distillery