WhiskyCast is where it all begins. Now in our 9th year, each weekly episode brings you the latest in whisky news, along with the latest events, tasting notes, comments from other listeners, and the weekly “In-Depth” segment features interviews with the people who help make whisky the “water of life”.
Suntory Holdings CEO Takeshi Niinami is one of Japan’s leading business executives. He’s the first CEO from outside the founding Torii family, and is also a key economic adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. He inherited last year’s $16 billion acquisition of Beam when he joined Suntory six months ago, and has been focused on making the deal work while changing Suntory’s internal culture. We’ll discuss the growing pains of the deal, which made Beam Suntory the world’s #3 spirits company, with Takeshi Niinami on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, a preliminary ruling in one lawsuit against a “handmade” spirits maker could be a sign of problems for whisky makers facing similar lawsuits, Four Roses plans another round of construction in Bourbon Country, and milestones mean commemorative bottlings of whiskies from around the world.
Links: Beam Suntory | Maker’s Mark | Four Roses | Jim Beam | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Ardbeg | Compass Box | English Whisky Company | Woodford Reserve | McTear’s | Feckin Irish Whiskey | Cleveland Whiskey | Armorik
US President Barack Obama visited a whisky maker for the first time this week during his trip to Cleveland for a speech to the City Club of Cleveland. He visited the small business incubator that’s home to Tom Lix’s Cleveland Whiskey, along with nearly two dozen other small manufacturers. Lix’s proprietary — and controversial — process takes young whiskey and gives it what Lix claims is the color, aroma, and taste of older Bourbons. He’ll tell us about the President’s visit and discuss his process on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the investigation into the theft of whiskey from a Wild Turkey warehouse in Kentucky continues, Jim Beam fights back in the courts, another “world” whisky is named the World’s Best Single Malt, and a Japanese CEO has banned his executives from drinking some of his company’s own whiskies to make more available for consumers.
Links: Cleveland Whiskey | Wild Turkey | Jim Beam | Kazerouni Law Group | Popcorn Sutton | Johnnie Walker | Buffalo Trace | Wemyss Malts | Tamdhu | Scotch Whisky Association | Whisky Magazine | Suntory | Park Avenue Liquor Shop
Anthony Bourdain is many things…a chef, author, journalist, and media personality. At heart, though, he’s a hedonist seeking pleasure from everything he encounters – including whisky. The host of CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” was the lead juror for this year’s American Craft Council Rare Craft Fellowship Awards presented by The Balvenie, and we spent a few minutes discussing whisky at Tuesday’s awards luncheon in New York City. He’ll share his thoughts on the global interest in whisky, along with his take on what defines a “craft” whisky and more on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, a Buffalo Trace employee has been arrested has been made in the theft of five barrels of Bourbon from Wild Turkey, and investigators are looking for any links to the infamous 2013 “Pappygate” theft. Scotch Whisky industry leaders are hoping for a tax cut in this coming week’s UK budget announcement, and a Bourbon brand not sold in the US for two decades is coming back. We’ll also have plenty of feedback on last week’s interview with class-action attorney Abbas Kazerounian on his consumer fraud lawsuits against Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark over their claims of being “hand-made.”
Links: The Balvenie | American Craft Council | Wild Turkey | Johnnie Walker | Scotch Whisky Association | Bushmills | Diageo | William Grant & Sons | Tullamore Dew | Jameson | Armorik | Arran | Kazerouni Law Group | Wood’s High Mountain Distillery | Talisker | Single Pot Stills of Midleton
Lawyers are circling around the whisky industry, much like sharks around a shipwreck. At least five different US distillers and bottlers have been hit with class-action lawsuits since last September accusing them of misleading consumers. The litigation largely focuses on whether their whiskies are “hand-made,” “small-batch,” or claim to come from a small-scale distillery that actually purchases bulk whiskey from larger distillers.
This week on WhiskyCast In-Depth, we’ll hear from one of the attorneys targeting the whisky industry. Abbas Kazerounian’s California law firm specializes in class-action consumer cases, and is currently suing Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and Tito’s Vodka over claims that their products are hand-made. His goal is to get drinks producers to be more honest with consumers, and plans to expand that fight to Scotch Whisky and other spirits as well. Beam Suntory declined to make anyone available to discuss the lawsuits, but company spokesmen have said the lawsuits are without merit.
In the news, George Dickel master distiller John Lunn is leaving Diageo for a new opportunity, Brown-Forman plans to turn up the heat on Fireball with its Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, and two sides are squabbling over the trademark rights to a historic distillery name. This week’s tasting notes feature The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve and the Evan Williams Single Barrel 2005 Vintage Bourbon.
Links: Kazerouni Law Group | Maker’s Mark | Jim Beam | George Dickel | Diageo | Fred Minnick | Chatham Imports | Bomberger’s Distillery | Michter’s | Jack Daniel’s | Brown-Forman | Distilled Spirits Council of the United States | Arran | Tomatin | Wyoming Whiskey | Huber’s Starlight Distillery | Yamazaki | The Glenlivet | Evan Williams
Lots to talk about this week, with news from all over the world! Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan joins us on WhiskyCast In-Depth to talk about the world’s peatiest whisky ever — his Octomore 6.3 with a phenol level of 258ppm! We’ll also hear about new whiskies from Tomatin, Duncan Taylor, Midleton, and Whistlepig, along with the latest on Teeling Whiskey’s new Dublin distillery that could be ready to make whiskey by St. Patrick’s Day, and we’ll look at the Bourbon boom with Beam Suntory’s chief of marketing and sales for Whiskies and Cognacs, Chris Bauder.
Links: Bruichladdich | Highlander Inn | World Whiskies Awards | Balcones Distilling | Sons of Liberty Distilling | Scotch Whisky Association | Brenne | Cù Bòcan | Black Bull | WhistlePig | Teeling Whiskey | Single Pot Stills of Midleton | Beam Suntory | Johnnie Walker | Gordon & MacPhail
For the second straight year, a Texas whiskey has won Best in Show honors at the American Craft Spirits Association competition. San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling .36 Single Barrel Straight Bourbon beat a field of whiskies and other spirits from around the US. Ranger Creek co-founder Mark McDavid joins us this week on WhiskyCast In-Depth to share the story behind that whiskey and the distillery. In the news, a California law firm is challenging Beam Suntory on two fronts now over claims that Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark are “hand-made”, a distilling prodigy is leaving Brown-Forman for the craft distilling world, and doctors don’t want us to confuse the “Bourbon Virus” with the “Whisky Bug”.
Links: Ranger Creek | Jim Beam | Kazerouni Law Group | Maker’s Mark | Fred Minnick’s Blog | Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame | The Macallan | Duncan Taylor | Highland Park | BenRiach | GlenDronach | Teeling Whiskey Company | Glendalough | Coppersea Distilling | Teerenpeli | Baltimore Business Journal | US Centers for Disease Control | Old Forester | Zuidam Distillers | The Whisky Exchange |
It’s Valentine’s Day, and who better to explain his passion for making whisky than Rifino Valentine of Valentine Distilling. His Woodward Ltd. Bourbon is named after Detroit’s legendary Woodward Avenue, which runs just a couple of blocks away from his distillery in the suburb of Ferndale, Michigan. Valentine is preparing to move from his original site to a brand-new facility in Ferndale, and is part of a craft distilling boom in the Detroit area. We’ll talk with Rifino Valentine and his head distiller, Justin Aden, on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. There are plenty of new whiskies to talk about this week, and we’ll also have more tasting notes from the #28DramsIn28Days project.
Links: Valentine Distilling | Jim Beam | Old Grand-Dad | Booker’s | Diageo | Heaven Hill | Johnnie Walker | Wemyss Malts | Kentucky Bourbon Affair | The Glenlivet | Scotch Whisky Association | Westland Distillery
Ian MacMillan has been overseeing the whiskies from Deanston, Tobermory, and Bunnahabhain for years…but Cognac cask finishes were one thing he hadn’t experimented much with until the opportunity presented itself several years ago. The result is the new Deanston 18 Cognac Matured single malt that’s being released in the US this month. We’ll discuss Cognac casks with Ian on WhiskyCast In-Depth, along with his other single malts and his new take on the Black Bottle blend. In the news, there’s word that The Glenlivet may be replacing its flagship 12-year-old expression with the no-age-statement Founder’s Reserve in some markets, old stills from Islay will be getting a new life in Ireland, and whisky sales keep growing in the US. We’ll also kick off the #28DramsIn28Days series of tasting notes, too.
Links: Deanston | Bunnahabhain | The Glenlivet | Words of Whisky | Angel’s Envy | Templeton Rye | Distilled Spirits Council of the US | Bruichladdich | The Whisky Exchange | Single Pot Still Whiskies of Ireland | The Glenrothes | Kilbeggan | Single Oak Project | Maker’s Mark | Huffington Post | Woodford Reserve | Classic Malts
Graeme Macaloney gave up a secure career in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue his dream of making whisky, and the Scottish expat is getting closer to realizing his dream. He’s hoping to begin construction on the Victoria Caledonian Distillery in Victoria, British Columbia soon, and has already brought Dr. Jim Swan and former Diageo distillery manager Mike Nicolson as consultants. Graeme explains why he and his family mortgaged their future (and their house) on his dream on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell joins us to discuss his promotion to Master Distiller alongside his father, the legendary Jimmy Russell. We’ll also look at whisky economics in Scotland, where a new report estimates the industry’s economic impact at £5 billion annually. There’s word on new whiskies from anCnoc and GlenDronach, and this week’s tasting notes include whiskies from Kentucky, Texas, Scotland, and France!
Links: Victoria Caledonian Distillery | Wild Turkey | Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Scotch Whisky Association | Icons of Whisky Awards | Diageo | anCnoc | GlenDronach | The Green Welly Stop | Spirit of Speyside Festival | Ranger Creek | G. Rozelieures
Kentucky’s Four Roses Distillery announced this week that supply problems will prevent this spring’s release of the annual Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon. In his first interview on the subject, master distiller Jim Rutledge explains why dropping the limited-edition release will make more single barrel bottlings available to consumers, along with the prospects for bringing back the annual release in the future. In the news, Scotch Whisky producers are preparing for a fight with Westminster over taxes, we have more details on last weekend’s Sunday Herald report about water usage violations at some Scottish distilleries, US regulators are cracking down on vague age statements, and there are new whiskies to talk about from Woodford Reserve and Glenmorangie. Finally, tasters at an event planned for Valentine’s Day in London may really detect a note of sweat in their whiskies…
Links: Four Roses | Scotch Whisky Association | Sunday Herald | Tax & Trade Bureau | Woodford Reserve | Glenmorangie | London Distillery Company | Bompas & Parr | Kilbeggan | Classic Malts | The Macallan