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”.
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
Construction could begin later this year on Diageo’s planned revival of the legendary Port Ellen Distillery on Islay, which was closed in 1983. Only the seaside warehouses and the old kiln building are left, and they’ll play a key role in the distillery’s future when it opens in 2021 – assuming local officials sign off on planning approval for the project. That application was submitted in mid-May, with a decision expected later this summer. Islay native and former Lagavulin manager Georgie Crawford is the project manager for the Port Ellen revival, and she’ll join us on WhiskyCast In-Depth to explain the plans – and how the team tapped into the memories of former Port Ellen workers to help shape those plans.
In the news, climate change could be playing a major role in Scotch Whisky’s immediate future as distillers and barley farmers deal with the after-effects of last summer’s drought. Another dispute between the Trump Administration and Mexico could see tariffs slapped back on American whiskies just days after they were removed, and could North Korea actually be getting into the whisky business?
Links: Diageo | The Guardian | Glenfarclas | LCBO | Tax & Trade Bureau | The Macallan | Whyte & Mackay | Old Charter Oak | Wolves Whiskey | Islay Festival of Malt & Music | Bruichladdich | Balblair | Amrut | Glyph
This week’s episode is certain to arouse the ire of whisky purists. We’re looking at Glyph, a “molecular whiskey” that’s engineered in a lab instead of a distillery. Alec Lee and his colleagues at Endless West in San Francisco analyzed hundreds of whiskies down to the molecule to isolate specific chemical compounds – then sourced those compounds to blend with grain neutral spirits and a small amount of new make whisky to create Glyph. Technically, it falls under the legal category of a “spirit whisky,” but it’s already being sold in California and New York alongside traditionally distilled whiskies.
Is it a glimpse into the future of whisky or a pale imitation of the real thing? We’ll discuss it with Alec Lee on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, American whiskey exports to Canada and Mexico are tariff-free once again, and we’ll talk with The Balvenie’s David Stewart about the distillery’s new Stories range of single malts.
Links: Glyph | Scotch Whisky Association | The Balvenie | Hunter Laing & Co. | Highland Park | Mackmyra | J. Rieger & Co. | Armorik | Dad’s Hat | Fercullen | Spirited Science
Oliver Hughes and his partners in Ireland’s Porterhouse Group opened Dingle Distillery in late 2012, just as the Irish craft distilling boom was beginning. Dingle was Ireland’s first new distillery in 25 years since the opening of Cooley Distillery in 1987, but Hughes barely got to see the first early bottlings of Dingle Whiskey before his death in 2016. Today, his family and colleagues have taken Oliver Hughes’s dream and are building on it, with the first exports of Dingle’s single malt whisky to the United States coming later this year. We’ll visit the distillery and talk with some of the people carrying on that mission on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, there’s a truce in the trade war between the U.S. and two key trading partners that should mean the end of punitive tariffs on American Whiskey exports. We’ll have the details, along with the rest of the week’s whisky news and much more.
Links: Dingle Whiskey | Castle & Key | MarianneEaves.com | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Redbreast | George Dickel | Jack Daniel’s | Woodford Reserve | Booker’s | Laphroaig | InchDairnie | British Airways | Dublin Liberties Distillery | The Glenlivet | The Daily Beast
Of all the craft distilleries Dave Pickerell worked with before his sudden death last November, none was more identified with him than Vermont’s WhistlePig Rye. He was there at WhistlePig’s founding when the first casks of whiskey were acquired from Alberta Distillers more than a decade ago, and trained the team of young distillers and blenders who now carry on his work. Jeff Kozak was around back then, too…but he was the Alberta Distillers executive who sold those casks for the first WhistlePig bottling. Today, he’s WhistlePig’s CEO, and joins us on WhiskyCast In-Depth to discuss how his team is moving forward while honoring the legacy Dave Pickerell left behind.
In the news, construction is about to begin on Diageo’s new Johnnie Walker Experience in downtown Edinburgh now that local officials have signed off on the development plans. We’ll also have an update on the #FreeOurWhisky campaign in British Columbia after the owners of Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver had a hearing on charges stemming from a January 2017 raid for selling Scotch Malt Whisky Society whiskies. We’ll also remember Amrut Distillery managing director Neel Jagdale, who died this week after a battle with cancer.
Links: WhistlePig Rye | Johnnie Walker | Fets Whisky Kitchen | Amrut | Orphan Barrel | GlenDronach | Jura | Writers’ Tears | Forty Creek | Heaven’s Door | Spirit of Speyside Festival | The Whisky Exchange | Gouden Carolus | Holy Dram | Guinness World Records | The Whiskey House
Let’s face it. When you think of American Whiskey, Bourbon is probably top of mind. After all, Congress declared it “America’s Native Spirit” 55 years ago. It wasn’t always that way, and people heading to Churchill Downs in Louisville for this year’s Kentucky Derby got a reminder of that. Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit Rye has been trying to build a more complete record of America’s distilling history with its “Whiskey Wiki”project, and bought a billboard near Churchill Downs to remind the folks in Bourbon Country that that history began with Rye Whiskey. We’ll talk with Sagamore Spirit’s Brian Treacy about the billboard and the history project on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Constellation Brands has acquired majority ownership in another craft distillery, while Scotch Whisky’s impact on the British economy continues to grow. The Spirit of Speyside Festival honored four Scotch Whisky veterans this week, and there are all sorts of new whiskies to talk about, too!
Links: Sagamore Spirit | Whiskey Wiki | Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery | Scotch Whisky Association | Spirit of Speyside Festival | Tamdhu | Glenmorangie | Compass Box | J.P. Wiser’s | Kilchoman | Chapel Gate Whiskey Co. | Bulleit | New Riff | Whiskybase/Archives | Jameson | Whisky Belles
Pam Heilmann has been making Bourbon for her entire career, but it was only in the last three years that she had the title of Master Distiller after she succeeded Willie Pratt at Michter’s Distillery in the Louisville suburb of Shively. Now, she’s heading into retirement this week, but will have the title of “Master Distiller Emerita” at Michter’s while her hand-picked successor, Dan McKee, takes over the day to day responsibility. We’ll talk with both of them on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the Bardstown Bourbon Company has put its first whiskey into a bottle with Fusion Series #1. We’ll talk with Steve Nally and have tasting notes for it, too. Arran’s new Lagg Distillery has started laying down casks of whisky for the future, and we’ll have details on new whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail, The Glenlivet, Tamdhu, and more.
Links: Michter’s | Bardstown Bourbon Company | Lagg Distillery | Johnnie Walker | Gordon & MacPhail | Benromach | The Glenlivet | Aultmore | Writers’ Tears | Tamdhu | The Last Drop Distillers | Wilderness Trail | Jeptha Creed | Drams 4 Fams | WhistlePig Rye | Kentucky Owl | Quebec Whisky
The farming village of Knockdhu has 29 residents, 17 dogs, a bunch of sheep and cattle…and one distillery. Gordon Bruce has called Knockdhu home since 2006 as the manager of Knockdhu Distillery, the home of Inver House’s anCnoc single malt Scotch Whisky. We first met Gordon in 2011 during a tour of the distillery, and caught up with him again at the recent Wonderful World of Whisky Show in Cornwall, Ontario – one of his rare trips away from that tiny farming village in Aberdeenshire. You’ll hear our conversation on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the University of Kentucky’s distilling studies program has a Bourbon benefactor after Beam Suntory donated $5 million to establish the James B. Beam Institute for Distilling Studies. Bushmills has received local approval for a $39 million expansion project that will add a second stillhouse and double the distillery’s capacity. We’ll also look at the week’s new whiskies and much more, along with announcing the winner of our latest WhiskyCast competition!
Links: anCnoc | Beam Suntory | University of Kentucky | Bushmills | William Grant & Sons | Jack Daniel’s | Woodford Reserve | Kentucky Owl | FredMinnick.com | Still Waters Distillery | Port Askaig | Knappogue Castle | Glenfarclas | Kensington Wine Market | Tater-Talk.com | Old Fourth Distillery | Macardo