WhiskyCast is where it all begins. Now completing our 10th 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”.

Episode 560: October 31, 2015

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey. Image courtesy WhistlePig Farm. Popular, yet controversial in many ways, WhistlePig Farm’s distillery has finally opened after a series of lengthy delays and disputes. Founder Raj Peter Bhakta spent around $250,000 in legal fees battling Vermont regulators over whether WhistlePig Farm qualifies as an “agricultural operation” under the state’s unique laws protecting farms from commercial development. Even though whiskey distilled from rye grown on the farm is still several years away from being ready for sale, Bhakta claims WhistlePig is one of the leading “grain to glass” distilleries in the United States. We’ll challenge that claim as we discuss the distillery’s future with Raj Peter Bhakta on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Compass Box is in the middle of a controversy of its own after another Scotch Whisky producer accused it of being too transparent with details on its latest two releases. That’s just one of several legal battles within the whisky industry this week, and we’ll have all the details, as well as tasting notes that might just be illegal in Scotland.

Links: WhistlePig Rye | Compass Box | Scotch Whisky Association | Sazerac | Woodford Reserve | Force India F1 | Johnnie Walker | Sagamore Spirit | BBC News | Classic Malts | William Grant & Sons | Ballantine’s | Douglas Laing & Co. | The Glover | Three Ships | CTV News | Glenfiddich

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Episode 559: October 24, 2015

Cardhu distillery manager Andy Cant during the launch of George Washington's Single Malt at Virginia's Mount Vernon, October 13, 2015. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

Andy Cant has been a Scotch Whisky nomad for nearly four decades, working at distilleries and maltings all over Scotland. He’s done everything from making grain whisky for blends to running a maltings and multiple malt whisky distilleries from Islay to the Highlands. These days, you’ll find him at Cardhu Distillery in Speyside, but we caught up with him recently at Mount Vernon in Virginia, where he was part of a team from Scotland making single malt whisky at George Washington’s Distillery. He shares some stories of the distilleries and the people he’s worked with along the way on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth.

Travel retail releases dominate the news this week, with a bunch of new whiskies being unveiled at the travel retail industry’s annual showcase in Cannes. We’ll also have the details on Diageo’s 2015 Special Releases from Scotland, this year’s Masters Collection release from Woodford Reserve, and tales of lawyers on the loose in Kentucky!

Links: Cardhu | William Grant & Sons | Glenfiddich | Jameson | The Macallan | Classic Malts | Woodford Reserve | Bowmore | Douglas Laing & Co. | Glenora Distillery | Beam Suntory | MGP | WKYT-TV | FredMinnick.com | Hartfield & Company |


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Episode 558: October 17, 2015

Glasses of George Washington's Single Malt Whisky at Mount Vernon October 13, 2015. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

George Washington’s Scottish distiller never made single malt whisky at Mount Vernon in the 18th Century, but Scottish distillers John Campbell, Bill Lumsden, and Andy Cant did in the spring of 2012. They returned to Virginia this week to bottle that whisky for charity, and the first set of two bottles sold at the Spirit of Mount Vernon gala for $26,000. We’ll hear from the distillers on the challenge of making whisky the “old school” way on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Pappy Van Winkle shortages will be even worse than usual this year, another rare Bourbon is making a comeback, and Irish Whiskey experts honor this year’s crop of whiskies in the Irish Whiskey Awards.

Links: George Washington’s Distillery | Old Rip Van Winkle | Heaven Hill | Bruichladdich | The Balvenie | Ardmore | Arran | English Whisky Company | The Lakes Distillery | Irish Whiskey Awards | Spirit of Speyside Festival | Wild Turkey | Skinner | Nikka Whisky | Royal Brackla | Compass Box 

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Episode 557: October 10, 2015

Florence Castarède of Armagnac Castarède  pours a sample during Whisky Live Paris September 29, 2015. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

It’s rare that we talk about spirits other than whiskies on WhiskyCast, but with many people complaining that rising prices for single malts are forcing them to seek alternatives, it’s a good time to take another look at Armagnacs. We first looked at the French spirit back in 2007, and while whisky prices have been rising sharply, prices for vintage Armagnacs have been rising much more slowly. Florence Castarède is the sixth generation of her family to manage Armagnac Castarède, and we’ll discuss Armagnacs with her on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Sazerac plans to revive the Michael Collins Irish Whiskey brand – just in time for the centennial of the Irish revolutionary’s rise to prominence during the Irish Civil War. Shakespeare asked “what’s in a name” — and two whisky makers are asking that after winding up with the same name on their whiskies…and Neiman Marcus has the $125,000 answer to the question “what to give a whisky lover who has everything.”

Links: Armagnac Castarède | Sazerac | Glenmorangie | High West | George Washington’s Distillery | Global Alcohol Policy Conference | Scotch Whisky Association | Glenfarclas | Bruichladdich | Hibiki | The Singleton of Glendullan | Neiman Marcus | Orphan Barrel | Mackmyra

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Episode 556: October 4, 2015

Nikka Whisky chief blender Tadashi Sakuma. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

Earlier this year, Japan’s Nikka Whisky announced plans to replace many of its age-statement single malts with new no-age-statement versions. The company’s past projections of estimated demand couldn’t have forecast the current boom in Japanese whisky sales, and Nikka didn’t lay down enough whisky to meet today’s demand. We’ll discuss the situation with Nikka’s chief blender, Tadashi Sakuma, on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Brown-Forman has started construction of its new distillery at Ireland’s Slane Castle, and the popularity of flavored whiskies may lead to a sale of its Southern Comfort whiskey liqueur. Heaven Hill’s warehouses have yielded a treasure from the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, and we now know what The Glenlivet’s Alan Winchester had in mind when he hinted earlier this year that he’d been experimenting with peat.

Links: Nikka Whisky | Walsh Whiskey | Brown-Forman | Heaven Hill | 1792 Bourbon | The Glenlivet | Glenfiddich | GlenDronach | Port Askaig | Chivas Regal | Teerenpeli | Distilled Spirits Council of the US | Scotch Whisky.com | Wyoming WhiskeyDalwhinnie | Domaine des Hautes Glaces

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Episode 555: September 28, 2015

Emmanuel Blondel demonstrated whisky and food pairings at Whisky Live Paris. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

In this special bonus episode from Whisky Live Paris, we’ll have more highlights from one of Europe’s top whisky festivals. We’ll look at the recent controversy over a legal definition of France’s Breton Whisky, and hear from an American making single malt whisky in England…the very idea might make some heads explode in Scotland! In the news, Taiwan’s award-winning King Car Distillery is starting a massive expansion project — not just doubling production capacity, but boosting it by five times as much! There’s also more news on new whiskies from around the world, along with tasting notes and much more…

Links: Whisky Live Paris | King Car/Kavalan | Kilchoman | Springbank | Buffalo Trace | Compass Box | Jack Daniel’s | Creative Whisky Company | Loch Lomond Group | Douglas Laing & Co. | Law360.com | Distillerie Warenghem | Arran | Jameson | Franciscan Well | Cotswolds Distillery | Tormore | Old Pulteney

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Episode 554: September 26, 2015

Dad's Hat Distiller Herman Mihalich describes his whiskies to Whisky Live Paris attendees. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie.

This time around, we’re in Paris for the first of two episodes this weekend from Whisky Live Paris! Each year, Whisky Live Paris draws whisky fans and whisky makers from all over the world, and this year, that includes a record number of American distillers as Europeans discover a taste for US-made craft whiskies as well as their larger counterparts. We’ll talk with several US distillers who made the trip to Paris as part of WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, one of Ireland’s newest distilleries is already kicking off an expansion program, while construction at one of Kentucky’s newest distilleries is well underway with a goal of opening next June. We’ll also check on some of the new whiskies being introduced this weekend in Paris, and taste some, too!

Links: Whisky Live Paris | Icons of Whisky Awards | Bardstown Bourbon Company | Irish Distillers | Tullamore D.E.W. | Ardbeg | Glenmorangie | Brenne | Benromach | Springbank | Whyte & Mackay | Dad’s Hat | Sonoma County Distilling | Dry Fly Distilling | Littlemill | New Zealand Whisky Company 



Episode 553: September 19, 2015

Wyoming Whiskey Head Distiller Sam Mead. Photo ©2015 by Mark Gillespie. Sam Mead is a fifth-generation rancher, but never had any interest in distilling…until he came back home to work at Wyoming Whiskey, the distillery his parents founded in 2006. He started at the bottom milling grain, and eventually discovered the distilling bug within him. After a series of changes at the distillery, he wound up being the head distiller (and won’t allow people to call him a “master distiller”). We’re on the trail in Wyoming this week, and we’ll hear from Sam Mead on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll also have coverage of this week’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival, including a rare interview with Parker Beam after he received the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award Wednesday.

Links: Wyoming Whiskey | Kentucky Distillers Association | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Maker’s Mark | Four Roses | Wild Turkey | Michter’s | Yellowstone Bourbon | Scotch Whisky Association | The Famous Grouse | Catto’s | Glenmorangie | Charbay | Ken’s Bar | Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

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Episode 552: September 12, 2015

The stillroom at The Glenrothes Distillery in Rothes, Scotland. Photo ©2010 by Mark Gillespie.The Glenrothes was one of the first Scotch Whisky distilleries to label its single malts with wine-style vintages instead of age statements. While the Berry Bros. & Rudd-owned brand remains committed to vintages, it’s re-launching its entire range of vintage-less whiskies known as The Glenrothes Reserve Collection. Luke Tegner of Berry Bros. & Rudd was in New York City this week to introduce the new range, and joins us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth to discuss the changes. We also have a lot of new whiskies to talk about this week, including the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, single grains from a closed Glasgow distillery, more Laphroaig 200th anniversary single malts, and new expressions from Arran, Burn Stewart, The Dalmore, and more…along with a special segment on whisky and space!

Links: The Glenrothes | Buffalo Trace | Michter’s | MB Roland | Diageo | Royal Salute | The Antiquary | Wemyss Malts | Laphroaig | The Dalmore | Bunnahabhain | Deanston | Ledaig | Arran | Rademon Estate Distillery | Ballantine’s Space Glass | Ardbeg | Douglas Laing & Co. | Abbey Whisky | Hyde Whiskey

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Episode 551: September 5, 2015

Chef John Varanese of Louisville's Varanese Restaurant. Image courtesy Varanese. Louisville isn’t just famous for Bourbon…it’s also becoming a popular city for culinary connoisseurs, and the foodies are flocking to Chef John Varanese’s restaurant specializing in New American cuisine. The menu at Varanese also gets a lot of inspiration from Bourbon, and we’ll kick off Bourbon Heritage Month in Kentucky by talking whisky and cuisine with Chef Varanese on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, there’s a new #1 at the top of the Single Malt Scotch whisky sales rankings and a new #1 at the top of the list of oldest Scotch whiskies ever bottled. We’ll also have details on new whiskies from around the world and much more on this week’s WhiskyCast.

Links: Varanese | The Glenlivet | Scotch Whisky Association | Scottish Government | Gordon & MacPhail | BenRiach | GlenDronach | The Deveron | Littlemill | Beinn Dubh | Maker’s Mark | Old Forester | Bowmore

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