By Michael McCarthy By Michael McCarthy | June 22, 2022 | Food & Drink
Former NBA superstar Scottie Pippen teams up with Napa legend Dave Phinney to launch Digits Bourbon.
One of the positive byproducts of the pandemic was reflection, even for former NBA player Scottie Pippen, who says the time bubble gave him the opportunity to consider his direction once the world opened again. “I decided I wanted to create something that was special and meaningful to me—not just a bourbon, but an experience that I could share with everyone.” The result is Digits Bourbon, an impressive bottle aged five years and crafted in California.
Pippen’s business partner introduced him to Napa winemaking phenom Dave Phinney, who also launched Savage & Cooke distillery on Mare Island in 2018. The distiller produces Second Glance American Whiskey, The Burning Chair Bourbon, Lip Service Rye and Bad Sweater Whiskey. Each is aged in wine casks with water and grains from Phinney’s property.
Digits Bourbon is aged five years and produced on California’s Mare Island.
“It all came together after Dave flew to Los Angeles and, over dinner, we talked for six hours,” says Pippen. “Great conversations come from sipping a great bourbon. We shared a vision on how we would move forward with Digits and ended on a handshake deal. From there, everything took off , and we hit the ground running Anyone who watched Pippen’s career as an NBA player for the Chicago Bulls, where he garnered six championship rings, likely realizes this wasn’t a vanity project; Pippen, a workhorse during his playing days, put in the time for this bourbon. “Dave and I agreed that I would be involved from the beginning,” he says. “We tasted countless variations of different mash bills created by our master distiller, Jordan Via, until we found the right combination. I was amazed at how much the flavor of the whiskey changes with even the smallest difference in the mash bill.”
Former NBA superstar Scottie Pippen
Pippen jumped in on the bottling line and labeling, which is all done by hand. “You may even be holding a bottle that I bottled and labeled,” he says, laughing. “It gave me a lot of respect for these craft distillers. The hours are long, and the process is very particular and repetitive. As someone who appreciates the journey, I learned a lot.”
The bourbon’s flavor profile includes hints of vanilla, brown sugar and dark chocolate.
He also learned how to create an approachable taste profile. “I wanted this bourbon to be easy to sip with no hard edges,” says Pippen. “Dave and I worked together to hand-select the barrels. We also paid close attention to details, which we think sets this bourbon apart—with hints of brown sugar, vanilla and dark chocolate.” For tea lovers, the team even created Digits Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Tea in partnership with Steven Smith Teamaker.
Winemaker and distiller Dave Phinney and Pippen.
When Pippen reviews the arc of his love for bourbon, he Clockwise from top: Former NBA superstar Scottie Pippen; the bourbon’s flavor profile includes hints of vanilla, brown sugar and dark chocolate; winemaker and distiller Dave Phinney and Pippen. says it reflects celebrating life’s little moments. “It’s a wonderful drink to sip while spending time with friends and family, whether you’re on the back porch or at a steakhouse. Great relationships, conversation and ideas have come from sipping quality bourbon.” And now the world has a bottle with hoop dreams in its DNA.
Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRAND