There’s a new whisky in town.
That’s right: whisky, without the “e.” And this whisky’s got a kick.
The three owners of Big Deal Spirits, the company that makes Professionals Whisky, are all business professionals in Bend, hence the product name. The three recently launched their private label whisky, spelled without the “e” because it’s distilled in Canada, they said.
The spiced whisky is a result of three years of planning by the three friends: Neil McDaniel, Jared Dairy, and Michael Dahl, who work in the Central Oregon real estate and finance markets.
“We wanted to create a business that we’re all passionate about,” said McDaniel. “And we were all naturally passionate about whisky, so that’s how we decided on this project.”
The three decided to wade into the spirits market with a private label to start. The whisky is aged for three years in Alberta, Canada, and is then flavored with vanilla and spices by a distillery in Portland. McDaniel said it took months of testing, some of which involved local focus groups, to engineer the flavors.
“The combinations come down to a milliliter of spices,” McDaniel said. “The finished product is exactly how we wanted it.”
The company decided to go with a spiced whisky as it’s a largely untapped niche market that still offers plenty of opportunity, McDaniel said. Currently, Professionals Whisky is on the shelves of the Bend West, Bend North and Bend East liquor stores.
McDaniel said the 80-proof spirit isn’t necessarily a sipping whisky, and its vanilla and spice notes shine best with ginger ale or in mixed drinks.
In the future, the three hope to open up a distillery and make the product locally. But until then, McDaniel said the smooth Canadian whisky is best shared with friends around the campfire.
“Some of the best experiences I’ve had is sitting by the campfire, drinking with a group of friends, or playing a round of golf with good pals,” McDaniel said. “It’s about connecting with people. It’s about great friends and great experiences.”
— Megan Kehoe