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Scotch Whisky

We tasted The Last of Us Part II’s apocalyptic new whisky

Just before this year’s Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, The Last of Us Part II developer Naughty Dog brought a group of fans, press, and staff to a small bar for a special event to celebrate the franchise’s latest release. This wasn’t The Last of Us Part I, which came out the next day; instead, they were there to debut a new whisky inspired by Part II called Moth & Wolf.

The event was held at Quinn’s Pub in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Its schedule featured a guided tasting of the new whisky, an appearance by Naughty Dog co-president and TLOU co-writer Neil Druckmann, and an acoustic set of six original songs by Troy Baker, the actor who voices Joel. While the whisky was the star of the show, the event itself also served as a somber goodbye for Baker, who officially closed out his time with TLOU.

Taste the apocalypse

Moth & Wolf is the latest product from the Digital Spirits project by Chivas Brothers, which is arguably best-known for its eponymous blended whisky Chivas Regal. Digital Spirits’ aim, according to Chivas’ Kevin Balmforth, is to “get closer to what fans are passionate about,” by making spirits that are influenced by modern forms of entertainment like video games. Balmforth is the master brewer at the distillery that created Moth & Wolf, and describes himself as having been a “big gamer” even before coming aboard the collaboration, which has been nearly two years in the making.

“I played The Last of Us all the way through,” Balmforth tells Digital Trends. “I’m a big fan. This was a real collaboration between us and Naughty Dog. We worked on a lot of concepts, to see what would work for the [whisky’s] packaging and the liquid itself, how the flavors would work.”

A bottle of whiskey inspired by The Last of Us sits on a table.

Moth & Wolf is a nine-year-old blended Scotch whisky, 48% ABV, made by Balmforth and his team at their distillery in Scotland. It features high notes of honey, fruit, and vanilla, with a slow, smoky aftertaste. According to Balmforth, the relative subtlety of the smoky flavors in Moth & Wolf is meant to mimic the feeling he had when he first saw Haven burn in The Last of Us Part 2. The design of Moth & Wolf’s bottle is meant to be similarly reminiscent of the game, with several subtle shout-outs to TLOU2‘s ruined Seattle hinted at in the fine details of the label.

Drinking songs

After the tasting, guided by Balmforth, Neil Druckmann took the stage to introduce Troy Baker, which also marked the point at which the mood of the event shifted downward, from upbeat to somber.

“During the pandemic,” Baker said onstage, “I found myself with an abundance of time and a deficiency of places in which to spend it.” He reacted by writing a number of songs, some of which he felt were more Joel’s than his, due to the “10 years and 10 million stories” he’d spent with Druckmann working on the character.

He proceeded to perform six of those songs, as a “good way to say goodbye” to Joel, joking that he was officially turning over the reins of the character to Pedro Pascal.

Troy Baker and Neil Druckmann signing posters at the Moth & Wolf tasting event.

Naughty Dog didn’t allow visitors to photograph or record Baker during the concert, which may or may not be aired via some official channel or another at a later date. Of Baker’s songs, the second was specifically about who Baker imagined Joel was before TLOU‘s fungal outbreak, in the days when he was simply a father and a construction worker. The third was faster-paced, about a man who discovers the Devil himself, “an old drinkin’ buddy of mine,” is scared to death of Joel. The sixth song, and the shortest, was a lullaby that Baker imagines Joel sang to his daughter Sarah when she was young.

The way the overall event left off, it’s hard not to describe its final vibe as a sort of metafictional wake for Baker’s time playing Joel.  If that’s the case, at least we got a good round of drinks to help see the voice actor off.

Moth & Wolf will be made available for pre-order via the official Digital Spirits website at an unspecified future date. Its price has not been announced, but Digital Spirits’ previous whisky, Topher Brophy’s Barrelhound, is listed on its website at $45 per bottle.

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