WhiskyCast is where it all begins. Now in our 15th 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”.
Nearly four years after Toby Curtsinger was released from prison after serving just 30 days of a 15-year sentence, he’s telling his side of the “PappyGate” saga. Curtsinger, his wife Julie, and eight other people were indicted in connection with the thefts of thousands of dollars’ worth of whiskey from Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries, but Toby Curtsinger was the only one who served any time in prison. He’s always maintained that he wasn’t responsible for the 2013 theft of nearly 200 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle whiskies, and his story is part of the Netflix documentary series “Heist.” We’ll talk with “Heist” director Nick Frew on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, tickets for this year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival are sold out, but some Bardstown residents don’t see that as a good thing. Whisky events in Europe are starting to require attendees to show proof of Covid vaccination or negative tests, and the push for sustainability has whisky makers looking to the forests.
Links: Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Maltstock | Whisky Live Paris | Whisky Festival Noord Nederland | World Whisky Forum | Whyte & Mackay | Heaven Hill | Whisky Hammer | Killowen Distillery | Boann Distillery | Limavady Whiskey | WhistlePig Whiskey | Bradshaw Bourbon | Milam & Greene Whiskey | Marble Distilling | Swilled Dog Spirits | Dràm Mòr Group | The Whisky Exchange
The reaction to last week’s bonus episode with Stephanie Macleod of Dewar’s was so positive that we’re doing it again this week! Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy joined us Friday night for the #HappyHourLive webcast, and we talked about everything from the construction underway at the distillery in Louisville to lab-created whiskies and what defines a “master distiller.” That’s something Wes knows well, since he co-founded Angel’s Envy with his father, the late master distiller and original Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee Lincoln Henderson. Wes joined his father in the Hall of Fame two years ago, and answered many of your whisky questions during the webcast, too!
Links: Angel’s Envy
The Scottish town of Dornoch has a lot of history, and the Thompson brothers are adding a new chapter to the town’s legacy. Their family owns the historic Dornoch Castle Hotel, and after managing the hotel and its world-class whisky bar for several years, Phil and Simon Thompson decided to open their own distillery near the hotel four years ago. They’ve only bottled one cask of their own whisky so far as a thank-you for supporters who helped crowdfund the project, and have also started their own range of independent bottlings to keep the business going while their own whisky continues to mature. That’s also given them a unique perspective of the whisky industry as connoisseurs, whisky makers, and bar owners…and not everything they’ve seen in recent years makes them happy. We’ll talk with the brothers on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the relaxation of some pandemic-related health restrictions could open up more whisky travel and event opportunities soon, and we’ll have the details on the week’s new whiskies. We’ll also have a tribute to one of the great distillers of his day and tasting notes for a rare whisky sample that slipped through the cracks years ago!
Links: Thompson Brothers at Dornoch Distillery | Distilled Spirits Council | The Last Drop | Loch Lomond | Bimber Distillery | Oxford Artisan Distillery | Teeling Whiskey Company | Forty Creek | J.W. Rutledge Distillery | Catoctin Creek | WhistlePig Whiskey | Tax & Trade Bureau | BBC News | Angel’s Envy | Harvest Hosts | Old Forester | Blue Run Spirits | Orphan Barrel | Westland Distillery | Berry Bros. & Rudd
With many people starting to return to the office, we know you may not have as much time to watch our #HappyHourLive webcasts on Fridays. That’s why we’re trying something new: a podcast version starting with last Friday night’s conversation with Dewar’s Master Blender Stephanie Macleod. You’ll hear everything as it happened on the live show, with minimal editing to remove some audio glitches that come with producing live content on the web. If you have comments, please use the contact form on the WhiskyCast web site to let us know, since we’re trying to decide whether to offer these special episodes in addition to the regular podcast episode each week.
There are lots of things about American history that never make into the history textbooks. For instance, the Mayflower left for America with three times as much beer on board as drinking water, and while George Washington may have been the first U.S. President to become a whiskey distiller, at least two of his successors also owned whiskey distilleries. Harris Cooper digs into some of the things the textbook writers left out in his new book “American History Through a Whiskey Glass,” and he’ll join us on this week’s podcast. In the news, the Scotch Whisky Association is looking for a new leader as chief executive Karen Betts prepares to move on, while British officials may be ready to act on the American whiskey tariff soon. We’ll have those stories and much more, and on Behind the Label, we’ll explain what the story behind WhistlePig Rye’s newest release has in common with a Margarita.
Links: “American History Through a Whiskey Glass” on Amazon | Scotch Whisky Association | Food & Drink Federation | Hensol Castle Distillery | Thompson Brothers at Dornoch Distillery | Dewar’s | Torabhaig Distillery | Copenhagen Distillery | Gotland Whisky | Amrut Aatma | The ImpEx Collection | Blue Run Spirits | The Macallan | Hunt & Gather Spirits | Booker’s Bourbon | Water of Life Festival | Springbank | Cadenhead’s | WhistlePig Rye
The Ayrshire farm where Scotland’s legendary bard, Robert Burns, once worked the fields has now become intertwined with another Burns legacy: his love for whisky. The family-owned Lochlea Farm opened its distillery three years ago next month, taking the barley from those fields and turning it into whisky. Until now, the distillery has kept a low profile, but it’s starting to bloom ahead of the first release of Lochlea single malt whisky later this year. Veteran distillery manager Malcolm Rennie is overseeing operations at Lochlea while David Ferguson handles the commercial side of the business, and they’ll both join us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, South Africa is temporarily banning alcohol sales again with Covid-19 cases on the rise, while global travel restrictions caused the first year-over-year decline for Irish Whiskey sales worldwide in a decade.
Links: Lochlea Distillery | Irish Whiskey Association | The Glenlivet | Skinner Auctions | Ultimate Spirits Challenge | International Wine & Spirits Competition | Douglas Laing & Co. | The Lakes Distillery | Tamworth Distilling | The Drinks Business | WhistlePig | Larceny Bourbon | Johnnie Walker | Golden Beaver Distillery | Whiskey Rebellion Festival
Why do we drink, even though we know drinking too much isn’t good for us? Is it human nature…perhaps in our DNA? Since there are people with a genetic mutation that makes them sick when they drink, why hasn’t that mutation spread throughout the world? Is that a sign that perhaps evolution recognizes some benefits from the occasional dram? Those are some of the questions University of British Columbia professor Edward Slingerland looks at in his new book “Drunk: How We Slipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization.” He joins us this week on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll expand on the question in Behind the Label with a look at the lack of links so far between whisky and cannabis. In the news, the new Bourbon Alliance is pushing back on Great Britain’s American whiskey tariff from both sides of the Atlantic, while whisky is flowing again from one of Scotch Whisky’s most historic places.
Links: “Drunk” on Amazon.com | Bourbon Alliance | Wolfcraig Distillery | Lindores Abbey Distillery | Glasgow Distillery Co. | Douglas Laing & Co. | Waterford Whisky | Michter’s | Scotch Malt Whisky Society | Kentucky Owl | “Heist” on Netflix | Tullibardine | The Glenlivet | Dewar’s | Boann Distillery | Wyoming Whiskey | Snitching Lady Distillery | Bolivian Express | MB Roland | SoNo 1420 Distilling
Is Tennessee Whiskey Bourbon? That argument has divided whisky lovers for years, but Nicole Austin says it is. She’s the head distiller and general manager at Diageo’s Cascade Hollow Distillery, the home of George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. To prove her point, she created the new Dickel Bourbon, and she’ll make her case on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Uncle Nearest opens up the latest phase of its new distillery in Tennessee, complete with artifacts from the original distillery Nathan “Nearest” Green and Jack Daniel ran following the Civil War. There’s a cease-fire on one front in the trade war between Europe and the United States, and that means the end of U.S. tariffs on single malts from Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’ll also have details on an upcoming extra-old whisky from Scotland, and on Behind the Label, we’ll look at the difference altitude makes when you’re making whiskey.
Editor’s note: During the Behind the Label segment, we credited Breckenridge Distillery in Colorado as being the “world’s highest” distillery. After the episode went live, we found out that is no longer the case. Snitching Lady Distillery in Fairplay, Colorado is at 9,953 feet above sea level, compared to 9,600 feet for Breckenridge. That’s only enough to make it the highest in North America, since the Andean Culture Distillery in La Paz, Bolivia is located at 11,974 feet in the Andes Mountains. Thanks to Steffen Braüner and Lenny Eckstein of Deerhammer Distillery for the tips!
Links: George Dickel | Distilled Spirits Council | Tax & Trade Bureau | Westland Distillery | Uncle Nearest | Ole Smoky | Gordon & MacPhail | GMB Scotland | Unite | Chivas Brothers | Diageo | Ardgowan | Savage & Cooke | Laws Whiskey House | Belfour Spirits | Old Forester | Golden Moon Distillery
Earlier this year, Japan’s whisky makers agreed on a voluntary definition for “Japanese Whisky” after decades of quietly blending their own whiskies with imported whiskies from Scotland, Canada, and elsewhere. That new definition requires “Japanese Whisky” to actually be fermented, distilled, and matured in Japan, while whiskies blended with imports are now to be labeled as “world blends.” The change has put Japan’s whiskies under increasing scrutiny and demands for transparency, and one American-based upstart launched its whiskies last October with transparency in mind. While Shibui produces “world blends,” it also works with distillers on the island of Okinawa to create single grain Japanese whiskies made from rice. Shibui co-founder Nicholas Pollacchi explains the difference on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll also talk about Danish Whisky and a Whisky Danish, too…
Links: Shibui Whisky | Brown-Forman | Dad’s Hat Rye | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Hard Truth Distilling | Stauning Whisky | Scarabus | Mackmyra | O&H Danish Bakery
Brendan McCarron had a safe, secure job as Dr. Bill Lumsden’s hand-picked “heir apparent” on the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg whisky creation team, but he was missing something. Earlier this year, he jumped at the chance to get back to distilling when Distell offered him the chance to become master distiller for its Bunnahabhain, Deanston, and Tobermory distilleries. Brendan did his first public appearances for Distell during Bunnahabhain’s virtual Feis Ile events this past week, and we’ll hear from him on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Islay’s distilleries have starting to gradually reopen to tourists as pandemic-related health restrictions are easing, while whisky tariffs may be back on the table as the European Union tries to push Great Britain to follow through on key Brexit agreements. We’ll also have the details on Uncle Nearest founder Fawn Weaver’s mission to help other minorities succeed in the spirits industry and much more!
Links: Bunnahabhain | Deanston | Tobermory | The Times of London | Uncle Nearest | Diageo | Bulleit | Ardbeg | Russell’s Reserve | Old Forester | Westland | Duncan Taylor & Co. | Mackmyra | High West | The Macallan | Writers’ Tears | “Left Bank” Kickstarter Campaign | Isle of Raasay Distillery | Still Austin Distillery | Brora