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”.
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
Lew Bryson and Martin Duffy take their whisky seriously…but not much else! When they joined us at the recent American Whiskey Convention in Philadelphia, the laughter was a perfect complement to serious whisky discussion about the sources of whisky flavor, the growth of craft distilling, and why our discussion was taking place just feet away from valuable Egyptian artifacts in the University of Pennsylvania Museum. OK, that last part wasn’t so serious, but it did help Lew explain how he came to meet legendary whisky writer Michael Jackson for the first time at the Penn Museum. We’ll also talk with Dick Stoll, the veteran Pennsylvania distiller who made one of the Holy Grails for whiskey lovers…the 16-year-old A.H. Hirsch Reserve Bourbon.
In the news, this was a week that won’t go down in history at The Macallan, while Craigellachie is bringing a 51-year-old single malt to New York City – and pour it for free! Four Roses has completed its $55 million expansion project in Kentucky, and Woodford Reserve’s Chris Morris has to figure out how to get a special barrel down from one of the historic spires at Churchill Downs in time for the Kentucky Derby.
Links: The Macallan | Bladnoch | Glenturret | Four Roses | Heaven’s Door | Blade & Bow | Woodford Reserve’s $1K Mint Julep | Craigellachie’s Bar 51 | Highland Park | Douglas Laing & Co. | Glengoyne | Sazerac | Littlemill | The Glenlivet | Compass Box | American Whiskey Convention | Stoll & Wolfe
Lindores Abbey has a unique place in whisky history, thanks to Friar John Cor and the aqua vitae he distilled for the King in 1494. Gary Haggart has a direct link to the Friar as the first distillery manager at the Lindores Abbey Distillery, built right next to the ruins of the original abbey. He’s even distilling modern-day aqua vitae instead of gin or vodka while the Lindores Abbey single malt matures. During the recent Wonderful World of Whisky show in Cornwall, Ontario, Haggart presented Lindores Abbey’s young spirit to consumers for the first time, and we’ll talk with him on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We also took our studio setup to Friday night’s American Whiskey Convention in Philadelphia to talk with whisky lovers just like you as well as some of the distillers on hand that night. There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so make sure your battery’s charged!
Links: Lindores Abbey Distillery | Ardnahoe | Bruichladdich | WhistlePig | Dad’s Hat | Barrel 21 | Whiskey Rebellion Festival | Compass Box | English Whisky Company | Knappogue Castle | Mars Shinsu | Blood Oath | Berry Bros. & Rudd | Beam Suntory | Talisker | Balcones | Old Fitzgerald | American Whiskey Convention | George Washington’s Distillery
Blending whiskies is both an art and a science, and Dewar’s could fairly be accused of focusing more on the science side in recent years with solid, if not innovative whiskies. Master Blender Stephanie Macleod was given the green light to bring back the creativity that helped build the Dewar’s legacy, starting with the new “Double Double” range. We’ll talk with her about that project and her career on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Bruichladdich is planning an expansion on Islay that will include a new on-site maltings and investments in renewable energy. Balblair is the latest single malt to jettison vintages and return to age statements, and we’ll honor two whisky industry veterans who passed away this week.
Links: Dewar’s | Bruichladdich | Barton 1792 | Icons of Whisky Awards | World Whiskies Awards | Balblair | BenRiach | Whyte & Mackay | Bulleit | Michter’s | Weller Full Proof | Tamworth Distilling | Westland | Ardbeg | The Macallan | Strathisla
This week, we’re on location at the Wonderful World of Whisky Show in Cornwall, Ontario with everything from great whiskies and good friends to a guy dressed from head to toe in clothes made from recycled purple Crown Royal bags! On WhiskyCast In-Depth, we’ll talk with John McCheyne, who’s been traveling the wonderful world of whisky as the global ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and was in Cornwall for this weekend’s fun and games. We’ll also answer a listener’s question about a unique style of barrels on Behind the Label.
In the news, there’s a short-term delay on Great Britain’s exit from the European Union and a likely impact on whisky sales, while more evidence is coming in on the impact of tariffs imposed last year on American whiskies by Canada, the European Union, and other key trading partners. We’ll also mourn the death this week of Balcones distillery manager Zack Pilgrim after a sudden stroke at the age of 38.
Production support for this episode was provided by the NAV Centre.
Links: Wonderful World of Whisky Show | Scotch Malt Whisky Society | Distilled Spirits Council | Balcones Distilling | Tax & Trade Bureau | Roe & Co. Whiskey | Mortlach | Adelphi Selection | The Glenlivet | Glenfiddich | Jack Daniel’s | Glenmorangie | anCnoc | Blackadder | Quora.com | Kavalan Whisky
Irish Whiskey’s resurgence is only now beginning to make up for decades of obscurity over the last century, but with 23 active distilleries in Ireland now, things are looking brighter than ever. In fact, there are projections that Irish Whiskey sales in the U.S. could surpass Scotch Whisky sales in the coming years…if Brexit and other political issues don’t get in the way. We’ll discuss the business side of the comeback with Irish Whiskey Association chairman David Stapleton of Connacht Whiskey Company, and Tim Herlihy will join us to look at the boom in Irish Whiskey culture. The longtime Tullamore D.E.W brand ambassador is one of the authors of the new book “From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland.” He, Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, and Conor Kelly traveled throughout Ireland to search out great pubs, visit distilleries, and create a new resource for whiskey lovers visiting Ireland.
In the news, Brexit is less than two weeks away, and there’s still no solution to the question of the Irish border. We’ll also have details on the U.S. arrival of Red Spot, a whiskey writer’s switch to making whiskies, and look at how the college admissions bribery scandal could affect the future of one Kentucky distillery.
Links: Irish Whiskey Association | “From Barley to Blarney” | Red Spot | Ben Milam | Old Fitzgerald | Booker’s | Nikka Whisky | Springbank | Scotch Whisky Association | The Drinks Business | Connacht Whiskey Company | The Irishman | Bushmills | Barrell Craft Spirits | Bellevoye | Preservation Distillery
Women are making whiskies, running whisky companies, and teaching people how to enjoy whiskies all over the world. So…why do many men still treat women as second-class citizens at whisky tastings, bars, and whenever the topic of whisky knowledge comes up? Los Angeles-based freelance brand ambassador Kat Aagesen called out those men for their bad behavior in a column this week for The Whiskey Wash, and her complaints were echoed on social media by women throughout the whisky industry. She’ll join us on WhiskyCast In-Depth to explain why “mansplaining” just makes men look foolish – and more importantly – why those men are missing out on a chance to learn something.
In the news, investigators are looking for the cause of Barton 1792 Distillery’s second accident in a year after a storage tank collapsed and spilled an estimated 120,000 gallons of fermented mash. The Brexit deadline is less than three weeks away, and Scotch Whisky distillers are getting more antsy as the days tick off until March 29. We’ll also hear from Suntory Holdings CEO Takeshi Niinami on how much longer the shortages of Japanese whiskies could last, along with a unique collaboration between his whisky makers in Japan and Kentucky.
Links: The Whiskey Wash | Barton 1792 | Ian Macleod Distillers | Brown-Forman | Suntory | Legent Bourbon | The Tyrconnell | Paddy’s Irish Whiskey | Proper No. Twelve | Dublin Liberties Distillery | Tamdhu | Benromach | Bruichladdich | Bushmills | Irish Distillers
Nicole Austin made her mark on the American craft distilling movement at Brooklyn’s Kings County Distillery, then spent some time in Ireland working on Tullamore D.E.W’s grain distillery project as its commissioning engineer. Last year, she returned to the U.S. – not to another “craft” distillery, but as head distiller and general manager at Diageo’s Cascade Hollow distillery in Tennessee. That makes her one of the first craft distillers to join a major whisky company as a distillery manager, though she’s pledging to keep “craft” in her job description. We’ll talk with Nicole Austin about making the switch, and the one unique thing she asked Diageo for when she was negotiating to take the job. Here’s a hint: it didn’t involve whiskey.
In the news, Nikka is joining Suntory in shaking up its whisky lineup because of supply issues, while also planning a major investment in new warehousing capacity. Bunnahabhain’s $14 million refurbishment is underway, and some news reports are claiming an $18 supermarket blended Scotch is the “world’s best Scotch whisky.” That’s not the case, and we’ll explain why.
Links: Cascade Hollow/George Dickel | Nikka Whisky | Bunnahabhain | Ardbeg | Bladnoch | Clonakilty Distillery | The Glenrothes | Noble Oak Bourbon | Barrell Craft Spirits | That Boutique-y Whisky Company | Tennessee Distillers Guild | Liberty Pole Spirits | Queen Margot Whisky | Rogue Ales & Spirits | Two Brewers | Den Herberg