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”.
Edinburgh’s newest malt whisky distillery opened with a bang – or perhaps, a cough. That’s because the Bonnington Distillery had barely filled its first few casks with new make spirit before the Covid-19 pandemic forced Halewood Wines & Spirits to close the place down for a deep cleaning to comply with public health restrictions. Bonnington is the home for Halewood’s revival of the venerable John Crabbie & Co. Scotch Whisky brand, and we’ll talk with Marc Watson on WhiskyCast In-Depth. He oversees distilling and maturation at Bonnington, and started his career making gin before a certain podcast episode prompted him to focus on whisky several years ago – he’ll explain that story, too.
In the news, South Africa is reviving its nationwide ban on alcohol sales as Covid-19 caseloads start to rise, and one of India’s largest whisky distilleries could be affected by a lockdown that takes effect Tuesday while more U.S. states are closing bars again. We’ll hear how one Kentucky distillery is trying to keep a Bourbon legend safe while still allowing visitors, and catch up with the results of a special raffle to support an Irish children’s charity.
Links: Crabbie Whisky | Amrut | Ardbeg | Glenmorangie | Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Wild Turkey | Michter’s | Booker’s Bourbon | Kentucky Distillers Association | Balcones Distilling | Chattanooga Whiskey | Kilchoman | Nikka | Kavalan | Walsh Whiskey Company | Jack & Jill Foundation | Association of Halifax Regional Scotch Enthusiasts | Pinhook
Bars and pubs have reopened in some areas after lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19, only to be closed again when the number of cases spikes as people try to resume a normal life that includes having a drink at the local pub. Public health officials see bars as a prime vector for the spread of the virus, and that will have a long-term impact on bar owners as well as their customers. H. Joseph Ehrmann has owned Elixir, the popular San Francisco whisky bar, for 17 years and is waiting for local and state officials to work out their differences before he reopens – though he already has plans in place to try and give his regulars something close to their pre-pandemic experience. We’ll talk with him on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, pubs have now reopened in Ireland, England, and Northern Ireland as police say it’s virtually impossible to ensure social distancing. We’ll also have details on a new distillery project in Scotland that’s moving ahead with construction after months of Covid-19 delays, the week’s new whiskies, and something special – a song from the Whisky Bard himself, Robin Laing!
Links: Elixir | Gordon & MacPhail | Diageo | Prima & Ultima Collection | The Macallan | The Lakes Distillery | Bimber Distillery | Loch Lomond | Wyoming Whiskey | Sagamore Spirit | RobinLaing.com | The Last Drop | International Whisky Competition | International Wine & Spirit Competition | Canadian Whisky Awards
Fred Noe became Jim Beam’s seventh master distiller in 2007 when his father, the legendary Booker Noe, retired. 13 years later, he’s getting closer to the day when he’ll hand things over to his son Freddie – but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed his plans for a “farewell tour” with Freddie this year. Instead, Fred’s been cooped up at home in Bardstown, Kentucky, wearing a mask when he leaves the house at the insistence of his family and hoping to be able to go on that tour of Australia and Europe next year. In the meantime, he and his team have revived the Beam family’s Old Tub Bourbon brand for a limited-edition release celebrating the 225th anniversary of Jacob Boehm’s first whiskey, along with a limited-edition 15-year-old Knob Creek Bourbon. We’ll catch up with Fred Noe on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, the trade war between the U.S. and Europe is heating up again while England prepares to reopen pubs this coming week as parts of the U.S. close bars as the pandemic flares up. We’ll have the latest on new whiskies, say goodbye and thanks to a couple of retiring friends, and look at the way whisky barrels are stored on Behind the Label.
Links: Jim Beam | Knob Creek | Distilled Spirits Council | Diageo | Old Forester | Glenfarclas | Isle of Arran | Irish Distillers | Chivas Brothers | Wild Turkey | Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey
It would have been easy for Chris and Shanelle Montana to close Du Nord Craft Spirits after arsonists set fire to the distillery’s warehouse during riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police four weeks ago. It would have been even easier after more arsonists set fire to their apartment building the next night. They underestimated the Montanas, who not only plan to rebuild their distillery, but their neighborhood as well – and have already raised more than $560,000 with a GoFundMe campaign to help other minority-owned businesses repair their damage and rebuild. We’ll talk with Chris and Shanelle on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, Sazerac is expanding its portfolio with the acquisition of Canadian Mist and Collingwood Canadian whiskies, the Canadian Mist Distillery in Ontario, and Early Times from Brown-Forman. As coronavirus fever begins to fade, tariff talk is back in Brussels and Washington, while Beam Suntory is reviving part of the Beam family’s legacy as the company celebrates 225 years of making whiskey.
Links: Du Nord Craft Spirits | Du Nord Riot Recovery Fund | ACSA GoFundMe Campaign | Sazerac | Canadian Mist | Early Times | CanadianWhisky.org | Corby Spirit & Wine | Diageo | Westland Distillery | Jim Beam | Glen Moray | George Dickel | Glenmorangie | New Riff | Crown Royal | Bruichladdich
Recent protests over racism and police brutality against African-Americans have led to greater calls for diversity throughout American society, and the whisky industry is no exception. American whiskey’s history with diversity has not been a good one, going all the way back to the pre-Civil War era when many distilleries were run with enslaved labor – including the one owned by George Washington after his presidency. We’ll have details on several initiatives announced this week that focus on improving diversity and inclusion within the whisky industry, including plans for the Nearest Green School of Distilling at Tennessee’s Motlow State Community College that had been in the works for the past year. We’ll also talk with Black Bourbon Society founder Samara Rivers, who has just launched Diversity Distilled – with a goal of helping whisky companies recruit and develop African-American talent. We’ll also have the latest on Covid-19’s impact, including the postponement of this fall’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival and plans to gradually reopen pubs in the UK.
Links: Black Bourbon Society | Diversity Distilled | Uncle Nearest | Jack Daniel’s | Motlow State Community College | Diageo | Campari America | Kentucky Distillers Association | KDA Breonna Taylor Scholarship Fund Auction | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | USBG Foundation | Teeling Whiskey Company | Irish Distillers | A Fistful of Bourbon | Forty Creek | Still Waters Distillery | Douglas Laing & Co. | Westward Whiskey | “The Amber Light” | Woodinville Whiskey | High Wire Distilling | Stauning Whisky | GlenDronach | BenRiach
This week, we’ll wrap up our two-part tour of Gladfield Malt in New Zealand, where Gabi and Doug Mitchell have turned the family’s barley farm into one of the country’s leading malt suppliers. The Mitchells think a lot about the future, one in which they hope to see their three kids take on key roles in the family business. Gabi Mitchell will share that part of their story with us on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, fundraising campaigns for the Minneapolis distillery and its neighbors devastated by fires during the recent protests over police brutality have raised more than half a million dollars so far, while African-American Bourbon lovers are blasting one whiskey brand for posting racist comments online and other brands for staying silent on the issue. We’ll also have the latest pandemic-related event news, including a possible change of plans for this September’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
Links: Gladfield Malt | Du Nord Craft Spirits | Du Nord Riot Recovery Fund | ACSA GoFundMe Campaign | Black Bourbon Society | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | American Craft Spirits Association | Port Ellen | Douglas Laing & Co. | Glasgow Distillery Co. | Glen Moray | Fettercairn | English Whisky Company | Bimber Distillery | The Lakes Distillery | Kentucky Bourbon Affair Charity Auction | Buffalo Chase 5K | Writers’ Tears Jack & Jill Foundation Raffle | Blackadder | Amrut | Egan’s | Triple Distilled Blog
Malted barley is critical to the making of many whiskies around the world, and this week, we’ll take you inside the malting process with a visit to New Zealand’s Gladfield Malt. Gabi and Doug Mitchell founded the maltings 16 years ago as an outgrowth of the family’s Gladfield Farm, and has become a key supplier of malted barley for the country’s growing craft distilling industry. There’s so much to learn that we’ll be splitting the tour between this episode and next week’s WhiskyCast.
In the news, a Minneapolis distillery is in ruins after it was torched by rioters during protests against the death of George Floyd while in police custody, and the distillery’s founder is vowing not only to rebuild, but will help his neighbors rebuild their businesses. Some distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail are making plans to reopen to the public for tours and tastings next week following coronavirus-related closings, while we’ll also have the latest on new whiskies and much more.
Links: Gladfield Malt | Du Nord Craft Spirits | ACSA GoFundMe Campaign | Du Nord Riot Recovery Fund | Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Buffalo Trace | Scotch Whisky Association | Wild Turkey | Laphroaig | Compass Box | Waterford Whisky | Barrell Craft Spirits | Alchemist Events | The Glenlivet | Blackwater Distillery | Balcones Distilling
As governments start to relax lockdown restrictions in the fight against the Covid-19 virus, some distilleries are slowly starting to welcome the public back. While tours and tastings are still widely banned, Ireland’s Teeling Whiskey Company opened the doors to its distillery shop and cafe this week, and we’ll talk with Stephen Teeling about the decision and what it means to be able to get out of the house again.
Meanwhile, at least four Kentucky distilleries have also opened their gift shops along with others in states with looser public health restrictions. However, Scotland’s Glenfarclas Distillery will keep its visitors center in Speyside shuttered for the rest of 2020 to protect the health of distillery workers after one of its bottling hall workers died from the virus. We’ll also have details on two whisky auctions to support those affected by the virus, along with the week’s tasting notes, your comments, and much more!
Links: Teeling Whiskey Company | Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Glenfarclas | Glenfiddich | Whisky Auctioneer | Arran | Blackened American Whiskey | Sweetens Cove Whiskey | Buffalo Trace | Dartmoor Distillery | The Glasgow Distillery | Redbreast | Virginia Distillery Company | Hirsch Whiskey | Knob Creek | Moonshine University
As parts of the world begin to reopen following lockdowns to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, bars are likely to be among the last businesses allowed to reopen. The social nature of bars doesn’t quite work in an era of social distancing, and that will mean major changes for bar owners – and patrons. Jon Taffer is the host of the reality show “Bar Rescue” and a longtime bar industry consultant. He’s been thinking about what the post-pandemic future holds for bars, and it’s not a pretty picture – as he tells us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, some distilleries are starting to distill again in Scotland, while Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries could start to see a few gift shops reopen this week. We’ll also have some of your comments to our Twitter poll question on plastic bottles for whisky and a look at research that could make wheat more attractive for distillers in the future.
Links: JonTaffer.com | Bruichladdich | Laphroaig | Bowmore | Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Maltstock | Whisky Live Paris | Whisky Fringe | Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board | Distilled Spirits Council of the United States | American Distilled Spirits Alliance | Redbreast | Teeling Whiskey Company | Tamdhu | US Bartenders Guild Foundation | Catoctin Creek | Sagamore Spirit | Booker’s Bourbon | Larceny Bourbon | Glendalough | The Whisky Exchange | Rothamsted Research
While world leaders have rightly been focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of climate change has its own long-term impact on the whisky community worldwide. This week, we’ll look at two projects trying to create a sustainable climate for the whisky industry in the future. The “2100 Plan” is a project between the Kentucky Distillers Association and the state’s universities to come up with solutions that solve sustainability issues, while Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery has launched a program to make the entire distillery “carbon-neutral” by 2025. That project could use the waves that pound the Islay coast every day to generate power not only for Bruichladdich, but potentially meet most of the island’s electrical demand.
In the news, the U.S and Great Britain have started negotiations on a new free trade agreement, and whisky industry leaders want to make sure import tariffs on whiskies are removed as part of any deal. Covid-19 lockdowns don’t appear to be ending for bar owners any time soon in Ireland, and this year’s Irish Whiskey Awards have been cancelled because of the need for social distancing. We’ll also look at a partnership in Texas between Balcones and one of the Lone Star State’s legendary breweries and the debut later this month of the “Self Isolation Whisky Festival.”
Links: Kentucky Distillers Association | Beam Suntory | Bruichladdich | Scotch Whisky Association | Irish Whiskey Awards | Tamdhu | Kavalan | Balcones | Buffalo Trace | Templeton Rye | Self Isolation Whisky Festival | Hammer Head | Elijah Craig | Spirit Works Distillery | Frey Ranch | Ko’Olau Distillery