Making whiskey is an art.
We’ve long believed this, and created our Artist Series in celebration of the creativity that goes into every bottle of Pinhook. For each release in the series, the specially commissioned work of a noted artist graces the label and gives shape to the whole endeavor. Enter Alexa Pulitzer, the New Orleans-based artist whose drawing of Master Blender Sean Josephs at work blending two barrels embodies the particular ingenuity at play in Artist Series No. 3: Double Blended.
Pulitzer met Sean, whose wife Mani grew up with Pulitzer’s husband, in New Orleans. “When we moved back to New Orleans nine years ago, they were two of the first people Mani introduced me to,” Sean explains, “and given that Alexa and Seth are famous for their hospitality and throwing legendary parties, we all became fast friends.”
Pulitzer’s creativity was obvious, and her fanciful drawings have become the cornerstone of a globally successful stationery business. But her sense of self also struck Sean as a noteworthy attribute. “Authenticity is one of the most important values that drives the philosophy of Pinhook and Alexa is one of the most authentic people you will ever meet,” says Sean. “And it is far more meaningful to work with someone who is not only a talented artist but a close friend.”
Getting To Know Alexa Pulitzer
Alexa Pulitzer came to her aesthetic via a storied combination of experiences in two influential locations. Everything starts with New Orleans, and the city’s singular ambiance–and the creativity that fuels it–is in her blood. Her maternal grandfather was the renowned artist Leonard Flettrich, while her paternal grandfather, Samuel C. Pulitzer, co-founded the Wembley Tie Company, which eventually became the biggest tie manufacturer in the world. Wembley (later renamed WEMCO) gave Alexa her introduction to Italian craftsmanship when as a teen she joined her father on buying trips for the company to Como, just north of Milan. After graduating from art school, she apprenticed at the textile printer Ratti–the excellence of Italian craftsmanship and design became her second major artistic influence.
Authenticity is one of the most important values that drives the philosophy of Pinhook and Alexa is one of the most authentic people you will ever meet.
Alexa eventually returned to New Orleans and went to work at Wembley, designing ties and men’s boxers for multiple popular brands. During this time, she began making use of the company’s print shop to create early examples of her stationery, notepads, and postcards. As her creative temperament developed, she found herself channeling the two places that shaped her as an artist, New Orleans and Italy. After selling a design to a local stationer almost by accident, she began growing her business, at first filling orders in her off hours.
By the time she decided to strike out on her own, Pulitzer’s signature artistic style had matured into a technique that is both precise and whimsical. “I draw in a realistic way, much like an architectural draftsman, meaning I use fine lines that give an appearance of an Old World engraving,” she says.
Her design ethos was a perfect fit with Pinhook. Sean Josephs notes the parallels between her work and Pinhook’s: “Pinhook pays homage to the rich history of Kentucky's two most famous industries interpreted through a modern lens, both with respect to our vintage approach to blending and the bottle design. This contemporary take on tradition is also very much at the heart of Alexa's work, as she uses many classic and historical images to tell a modern story.”
I draw in a realistic way, much like an architectural draftsman, meaning I use fine lines that give an appearance of an Old World engraving
About the Artwork
We knew we wanted the Artist Series No. 3 artwork to represent the unique process used to craft the release, but put complete faith in Pultizer to execute that vision. “I really just wanted to give Alexa a sense of the blending process and leave it completely up to her [from there],” says Sean.
When he explained his approach to whiskey-making in more detail, Alexa knew she wanted to creatively represent the combination of science and art involved. “My drawing of Sean Josephs is meant to illustrate the science behind the divine Pinhook Bourbon that Sean has masterfully concocted.” We said whiskey is an art–it is also a precise art, and Alexa captured this exquisitely.
The drawing she created for the Artist Series label depicts the “double blended” technique used to craft the release. Borrowing from a technique used to craft cognac, for Artist Series No. 3 the whiskey was removed from the barrels, blended, then redistributed into the same barrels for further aging, and finally blended and proofed again before bottling. The drawing shows Josephs in the process of blending the bourbon, with each barrel representing one round of aging and blending.
We love this bourbon and we love the art–together, we just may have created a masterpiece.
Photography by Casey Joiner