WhiskyCast is where it all begins. Now in our 13th 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”.
“Private Selection” bottlings are the rage today, and it almost seems like an arms race as bars and retailers try to outdo each other with their exclusive bottlings. In fact, some whisky collectors now see the “Private Selection” market as the next big thing for so-called “investment grade” bottlings. During the latest Bourbon Salon at Louisville’s Oxmoor Farm, host Michael Veach brought together the owners and managers of several highly regarded Bourbon bars to discuss picking private barrels and other topics, and we’ll hear some of the stories behind barrel selections from Joe Head of The Century in Dayton, Ohio, Margo McMillen of Bourbons Bistro, and Larry Rice of The Silver Dollar in Louisville.
In the news, Pernod Ricard is expanding its U.S. whiskey portfolio with its second distillery acquisition of the year, while Diageo’s plans to upgrade visitors centers at many of its distilleries in Scotland got another boost this week. There’s a lot of new whiskies to talk about, and a new Gallup Poll shows whisky and other distilled spirits are more popular than ever.
Links: The Bourbon Salon | The Century | Bourbons Bistro | The Silver Dollar | Oxmoor Farm | Firestone & Robertson | Pernod Ricard | Suntory | Diageo | Kyrö Distillery | Wild Turkey | WhistlePig | Bruichladdich | Bowmore | Cù Bòcan | Michter’s | Buffalo Trace | The Gallup Poll | Old Forester | | Maker’s Mark | Uncle Nearest
If the story of Nathan “Nearest” Green and Jack Daniel was made into a movie, critics might describe it as “a feel-good story for the ages” or “a story from the past that’s still relevant today.” History shows “Nearest” Green was the enslaved distiller who not only perfected the “Lincoln County Process” for filtering Tennessee Whiskey, but also taught the young Jack Daniel how to make whiskey – then went to work with him after the Civil War ended and Green became a free man. Next month, Uncle Nearest Whiskey founder Fawn Weaver will open Phase 1 of the Uncle Nearest Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee to tell that story, and she’ll tell us about it on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, the growing potential for a “no-deal” Brexit has Irish Whiskey makers on both sides of the border even more nervous than before. Investors were scared off this week by sluggish earnings for MGP Ingredients, and that raises a question about whether we’ve reached “Peak Bourbon.” We’ll also find out the back story behind the “Missouri Bourbon” law, and on Behind the Label, you’ll hear how one young distiller started his career with a bang.
Links: Uncle Nearest | Drinks Industry Group of Ireland | MGP Ingredients | Little Book | Gordon & MacPhail | Oban | Clonakilty Distillery | Teeling Whiskey Company | Jos. A. Magnus & Co. | Copper Mule Distillery | Jack Daniel’s | The Glenlivet | Kentucky Peerless Distilling
It takes a lot to drag distillers away from their stills, but when the stakes are as high as the current debate over extending a federal excise tax cut for craft distillers – that’s enough to put them on a plane for Washington. More than 150 distillers from around the country converged on Capitol Hill this week for the annual public policy conference sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council and the American Craft Spirits Association. It also gave them a chance to put some pressure on their representatives in Congress to extend that tax break currently scheduled to expire at the end of this year. We’ll talk with ACSA President Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis and several of his colleagues about the politics of making whiskey on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, Diageo now faces strike votes by both unions representing workers at its distilleries and bottling plants in Scotland following a breakdown in contract talks. Beam Suntory is reviving an old name for its flagship Jim Beam Distillery in Kentucky as part of a $60 million dollar expansion plan that will include a new craft distillery named for master distiller Fred Noe. We also have a bunch of new whiskies to talk about, and we’ll also look at whether it’s possible to distill whisky in space on Behind the Label.
Links: Distilled Spirits Council | American Craft Spirits Association | Diageo | Unite | GMB | Beam Suntory | Woodford Reserve | Heaven Hill | Classic Malts | Johnnie Walker | Writers’ Tears | Uncle Nearest | Laws Whiskey House | Talnua Distillery | Wood’s High Mountain Distillery | Huber’s Starlight Distillery | Du Nord Craft Spirits | Laphroaig | Oregon Spirit Distillers
Raj Sabharwal doesn’t make whiskies, but his role is critical in making sure you get to drink them. He’s one of the band of independent importers – the middlemen (and women) who secure the rights from a whisky brand to import their whiskies into the U.S. market. Importers put up their own money to pay for those whiskies and the shipping costs, deal with the government red tape, and then find regional distributors willing to take a chance on getting them into retailers, bars, and restaurants. Sabharwal’s Glass Revolution Imports is the single largest customer for Amrut’s single malts from India, and he also works with Blackadder, Hammer Head, and other brands to get not only their regular offerings, but exclusive single casks for the U.S. market. We’ll talk with him on WhiskyCast In-Depth and find out how proposed changes in federal regulations and the trade war could affect the import business. In the news, Diageo is facing a possible strike in Scotland after two unions rejected the company’s latest contract offer. Edinburgh is about to get its first malt whisky distillery in nearly a century, while Bladnoch Distillery will open its new visitors center this week and Glenfiddich unveils a rare bottling to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its visitors center.
Links: Glass Revolution Imports | Diageo | Holyrood Distillery | Bladnoch | J. Rieger & Co. | Spirited Awards | Speed Rack | Woodford Reserve | Royal Salute | Glenmorangie | The Lakes Distillery | Laphroaig | Glenfiddich | Bonhams | Amrut | Norfolk Wine & Spirits | Kavalan | Julio’s Liquors | The Glenlivet | Sagamore Spirit | La Maison du Whisky
60 years ago, Bill and Marge Samuels dipped the first bottles of Maker’s Mark Bourbon in Loretto, Kentucky. They left the “e” out of “whisky” and shipped the first cases to Keeneland in Lexington. When Maker’s Mark finally decided to start a private barrel program several years ago, Bill Sr. and Marge’s grandson Rob decided to put a different spin on the concept and let their customers actually create a unique Bourbon instead of picking from a bunch of cask samples. Keeneland was first in line for a Private Select bottling, too, and we’ll get the story behind the program from Jane Bowie of Maker’s Mark on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, we have the cause – and the effect – of the Jim Beam rickhouse fire in Kentucky earlier this month, and we’ll also explain just how whiskey spills near rivers can lead to thousands of dead fish. The Scotch Whisky Association is taking a Virginia distillery to court over its use of the word “Highland” on its labels, and we’ll have the details along with tasting notes for two of the offending whiskies.
Links: Maker’s Mark | Jim Beam | Scotch Whisky Association | Virginia Distillery Co. | LCBO | Loch Lomond | Johnnie Walker | Laws Whiskey House | Jack Daniel’s | Buffalo Trace | George Remus Bourbon | Jameson | Don Julio | Speyburn | 1792 Bourbon
The husband and wife team of Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall opened High Wire Distilling six years ago in Charleston, South Carolina to make whiskey, gin, vodka, and an Amaro liqueur. Now, they’re turning a corner…literally. They’re investing $3 million to move the distillery into a much larger building a few blocks – and around a corner – from their original site, along with adding a second still just for whiskey, an expanded tasting room, and what they’re happiest about…a real loading dock! We’ll talk with them on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
There’s enough news to fill a second episode this week! After four days, the fire that destroyed a Jim Beam warehouse with 45,000 barrels of bourbon has finally burned itself out, though the environmental damage to the Kentucky River is still being felt. The trade war between the U.S. and Europe could expand to include punitive tariffs on Scotch and Irish whiskies in a dispute over aviation subsidies, while U.S. regulators are moving forward with a proposal to deregulate most bottle sizes for whiskies and other distilled spirits. There’s also a truckload of new whiskies to mention, and we’ll have an unusual head-to-head comparison: a whiskey and the beer it was distilled from.
Links: High Wire Distilling | Jim Beam | Distilled Spirits Council | The Glenlivet | Glenmorangie | GlenAllachie | Talisker | Johnnie Walker | Bunnahabhain | Deanston | Tobermory | 1792 Bourbon | WhistlePig Rye | Laws Whiskey House | West Overton Village | Charbay | Bear Republic Brewing | Sagamore Spirit | Basil Hayden’s | Elixir Distillers | Wyoming Whiskey
Wyoming Whiskey is celebrating an anniversary this week. Ten years ago on July 4, 2009, they ran the still for the first time at the Mead family’s ranch in Kirby, Wyoming, and Wyoming Whiskey is one of many craft distillers marking their 10th anniversaries this year. We’ll talk with co-founder David DeFazio about the lessons of the past and how they’re shaping the distillery’s future, along with what happens when a Hall of Fame distiller leaves behind a surprise for you to deal with years later.
In the news, the U.S. Supreme Court has given retailers who want to sell across state lines a lifeline after decades of states largely banning interstate shipments. We also have plenty of new Bourbons hitting the market just in time for Independence Day, while Chivas Brothers is digging into its warehouses for whiskies from some often-overlooked Scottish distilleries.
Links: Wyoming Whiskey | O.Z. Tyler Distillery | Chivas Brothers | Heaven Hill | Brown-Forman | Maker’s Mark | Michter’s | Distillery 291 | Speyburn | The Whisky Exchange | Wemyss Malts | Sullivan’s Cove | Crown Royal | High West | Tax & Trade Bureau
If you’re starting a new distillery from scratch, it helps to find some veteran whisky makers to join you on the journey. That’s just what Ardgowan Distillery CEO Martin McAdam did when he convinced former Macallan managing director Willie Phillips and Edrington whisky maker Max McFarlane to come out of retirement and join the team behind his fledgling distillery. While final financing is still in the works for the distillery to be built on the Ardgowan Estate on the banks of the River Clyde, McFarlane is already blending Ardgowan’s first release for its fall debut – a blended malt to be sold under the Clydebuilt label. We’ll talk with Max McFarlane and Martin McAdam on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, the owners of Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver will appeal a British Columbia adjudicator’s ruling against them in the #FreeOurWhisky case, 18 months after Fets was raided by provincial liquor inspectors for illegally selling Scotch Malt Whisky Society whiskies. Cleanup work is underway at the O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky following the state’s second rickhouse collapse in a year, and we’ll look at how rickhouse safety is regulated on Behind the Label.
Links: Ardgowan Distillery | Fets Whisky Kitchen | Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada | O.Z. Tyler Distillery | Clynelish | Scotch Whisky Association | The Macallan | Bulleit | Eden Mill Distillery | Glenfiddich | Glen Scotia | Elixir Distillers | Barrel and Bottle | Slipknot Whiskey | New Riff Distilling | Orphan Barrel | The Balvenie | Kentucky Distillers Association
Ten years after Pernod Ricard left Kentucky with the sale of Wild Turkey to Gruppo Campari, the world’s #2 spirits company is back in the Bluegrass State. Louisville’s Rabbit Hole Distillery has agreed to become part of Pernod Ricard, while founder Kaveh Zamanian and his family will retain a significant stake in the distillery and manage it on a day-to-day basis. It’s a deal similar to one Pernod Ricard did in 2016 with Smooth Ambler, and we’ll talk with Kaveh Zamanian and Pernod Ricard USA’s Jeff Agdern on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, Kentucky Peerless Distillery is also re-entering the Bourbon business this week – 102 years after selling its last bottle of Bourbon. We’ll also have the first details on Ardgowan Distillery’s debut release of Clydebuilt Blended Malt planned for this fall in Scotland and much more!
Links: Rabbit Hole Distillery | Pernod Ricard | Scotch Whisky Association | Lagg Distillery | Woodford Reserve | Bulleit | Roe & Co. | Buffalo Trace | Knob Creek | Baker’s Bourbon | Kentucky Peerless | Old Forester | Ardgowan Distillery | Douglas Laing & Co. | Smooth Ambler | Dry Fly Distilling | Irish Whiskey Society | Distillery 291 | TMZ | Charbay | 1205 Distillery
Rock bands often sound differently after they replace a member, and the members of Metallica considered Master Distiller Dave Pickerell to be part of their family. They collaborated on Blackened American Whiskey until Dave’s untimely death last November, and now, Metallica has completed the search for his successor. Rob Dietrich is leaving Stranahan’s to join the band’s Sweet Amber Distilling Company as the master blender and distiller. We’ll talk with Rob on WhiskyCast In-Depth and find out why it’s not his first time working with Metallica, too.
In the news, U.S. regulators are floating a proposal to remove most of the restrictions on bottle sizes for whiskies and other distilled spirits, and that could open up the market to whiskies not previously available in the U.S. Distilling industry leaders aren’t embracing the idea with open arms, while independent bottlers and importers are practically giddy at the possibility. What may be the first Chinese acquisition of a Scotch Whisky company has taken place, with the sale of Loch Lomond Distillers for more than $500 million, and construction has started on another cooperage in Kentucky to help supply the booming demand for Bourbon barrels.
Links: Blackened American Whiskey | Tax & Trade Bureau | Cadenhead’s | Distilled Spirits Council | Loch Lomond Distillers | Starward | Whisky.Auction | Independent Stave | Balcones Distilling | Rock Town Distillery | Catoctin Creek Distillery | The Dubliner | Compass Box | Basil Hayden’s | Templeton Rye | Crown Royal | Johnnie Walker | Blood Oath Bourbon | Booker’s | George Dickel | Eimverk Distillery