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”.
Is making whisky an art or a science? In “The Amber Light,” filmmaker Adam Park makes the argument that Scotch Whisky is an art as important to Scottish culture as writing, music, and other creative endeavours. Park worked in collaboration with veteran whisky writer Dave Broom, who stars in the film and wrote the screenplay. He joined us for this week’s WhiskyCast from Santa Barbara, California, where “The Amber Light” had its North American premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
In the news, no new tariffs this week – but the aftermath of Brexit later this week could create even more concerns for whisky lovers. For Australian whisky makers, fires and drought remain very real concerns that make politics look minor – and Aussie distillers are teaming up to help rural communities affected by that country’s devastating bush fires. We’ll have details on the upcoming Aussie Spirit Auction and how you can take part.
Links: “The Amber Light” | Scotch Whisky Association | Speyside Distillery | Aussie Spirit Auction | 5Nines Distillery | Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach | Tomatin | Wemyss Malts | Elijah Craig | Tincup Whiskey | Scotch Malt Whisky Society | Jack Daniel’s | Tobermory | anCnoc | Nagahama Distillery | Westland Distillery
This week, we’re in Victoria, British Columbia for one of the world’s best whisky festivals, the 15th annual Victoria Whisky Festival! This year’s event also included the 10th anniversary of the Canadian Whisky Awards, and we’ll hear from some of the top winners along with other highlights from Victoria on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, whisky industry leaders from Scotland and the U.S. spent much of the week in Washington trying to persuade Trump Administration officials to ease off on a trade tariff targeting whisky imports from Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’re already starting to see some of the initial impact from the tariff on Scotch Whisky producers, with word that some smaller companies may be pulling out of one of the world’s largest export markets because of the trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union. That’s just one of the stories we’ll bring you on this special episode of WhiskyCast from the Victoria Whisky Festival.
Links: Victoria Whisky Festival | Scotch Whisky Association | Distilled Spirits Council | The Drinks Business | Nikka Whisky | Buffalo Trace | Old Forester | Spirit of Yorkshire | Black Bottle | Westland Distillery | Fets Whisky Kitchen | SMWS Canadian Chapter | The East Oregonian | Canadian Whisky Awards | Pike Creek | Alberta Distillers | Crown Royal | de Vine Wines & Spirits | Drams 4 Fams | Wheel Horse Rye | Bruichladdich | Bowmore | Bushmills | The Sexton
Over the course of this year, we’ll be looking at the many ways climate change could affect whisky makers – and whisky lovers. Since whisky always starts with the grain, that’s where we’ll start – and grain farmers are clearly seeing the impact of climate change. So-called “100-year floods” are now an annual occurrence for farmers in the U.S. Midwest’s grain belt along the rivers that flow into the Mississippi River, which is already approaching flood stage from Missouri to Louisiana this week. We’ll talk with Dr. Chad Lee of the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, who’s tracking crop and climate change issues affecting whisky makers and the world at large. In the news, this could be a pivotal week for whisky makers hoping to avoid an escalation in the trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union. We’ll have that story, along with details on the first new whiskies of 2020 and much more.
Links: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture | James B. Beam Institute | Distilled Spirits Council | Scotch Whisky Association | MGP Ingredients | Beam Suntory | Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet | Woodford Reserve | Bardstown Bourbon Company | High West | Wheel House Rye | Johnnie Walker | The Amber Light | Santa Barbara International Film Festival | Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. | J.P. Wiser’s | GlenDronach | Maker’s Mark | Liquor.com | Gordon & MacPhail
The last decade was one of progress for women in the whisky industry, with more women than ever working as distillers and blenders. The real change is that women distillers are rarely viewed as a novelty now compared to the past, and we’ll hear from three of them this week. Recently retired Michter’s master distiller Pam Heilmann, Jeptha Creed’s Joyce Nethery, and Widow Jane’s Lisa Wicker were panelists at a recent Bourbon Salon discussion with Bourbon Hall of Fame historian Michael Veach at Louisville’s Oxmoor Farm, and we’ll have part of their conversation on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, local officials have given the green light to Diageo’s plans for reviving the Port Ellen Distillery, while the backers of another proposed Islay distillery went back to the drawing board to overcome local objections to their project.
Links: Bourbon Salon | Jeptha Creed | Michter’s | Widow Jane | Diageo | Elixir Distillers | Kelvin Cooperage | Tullibardine | Chambers Bay Distillery | Larceny Bourbon | Bruichladdich | Scotch Whisky Association
There was no Australian Whisky industry to speak of in 1992 when Bill Lark persuaded the government to give him a license to distill whisky in Hobart, Tasmania. Today, Australian whiskies are found around the world, and Bill Lark has become revered as the “Godfather of Australian Whisky.” While he’s retired from making whisky himself, he still works with distillers in Tasmania and on the Australian mainland, and he’ll join us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Kentucky Bourbon has lost one of its leaders with the death Christmas night of Four Roses veteran Al Young, and we’ll remember his legacy on this week’s episode. We’ll also have details on the fine levied against Beam Suntory by Kentucky regulators for environmental damage from last July’s warehouse fire and a look at the top whisky stories of the year on this final episode for 2019. (Editor’s note: This episode contains explicit language.)
Links: Lark Distillery | Four Roses | Beam Suntory | Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet | Office of the U.S. Trade Representative | Federal Register | Distilled Spirits Council | Craigellachie | Writers’ Tears
Dhavall Gandhi could have been a highly sought after mergers and acquisitions expert, but he set that potentially lucrative career aside to pursue his passion for making whisky. After a stint at The Macallan, he’s now in charge of production and blending at The Lakes Distillery in northwestern England. The distillery celebrated its fifth anniversary this month, and both of Gandhi’s two new “Whiskymaker’s Reserve” single malts released this autumn are nearly sold out. We’ll find out how his career path took him from India to the United States, Scotland, and England on WhiskyCast In-Depth – and have tasting notes for one of his new whiskies.
In the news, U.S. distillers are breathing easier after Congress and the Trump Administration approved a one-year extension of a federal excise tax break that has kept many small-scale distillers in business, while industry leaders are gearing up to fight a potential expansion of U.S. tariffs on imported whiskies. We’ll also have some of your holiday whisky wishes, too!
Links: The Lakes Distillery | American Craft Spirits Association | Distilled Spirits Council | Beam Suntory | The Last Drop | Big Peat | High West Distillery | Cutty Sark | Glen Scotia | The Drinks Business | Gotland Whisky (Swedish) | Isle of Lime (English) | Johnnie Walker | Baker’s Bourbon | Quora
Holyrood Distillery became Edinburgh’s first malt whisky distillery in nearly a century when it fired up the stills for the first time last September, but to trace its origins, you’d have to travel more than 4,000 miles across seven time zones to Calgary, Alberta. That’s where Holyrood co-founder Rob Carpenter makes his home, and where he and his wife Kelly run the Canadian chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Rob Carpenter’s spending most of his time in Scotland these days, and that’s where we caught up with him for this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, a tentative budget agreement in Washington means no government shutdown for federal liquor regulators, while another agreement could lead to the end of China’s tariffs on American whiskies. That’s 2 out of 3 for the industry, but in this case, 2 out of 3 could lead to a worst-case scenario for many small-scale distillers unless Congress can agree this week to extend their federal excise tax cut.
Links: Holyrood Distillery | Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canadian Chapter | American Craft Spirits Association | Glendalough Distillery | Whiskies of the World | Royal Salute | Nikka | M&H Distillery | Whisky Auctioneer | Just Whisky | Paul John | The Whisky Exchange | WhistlePig Rye | Balcones Distilling | Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery | Clearspring | BostonApothecary.com
Nicole Austin can be excused for walking on Cloud 9 the other night at Whisky Advocate’s WhiskyFest in New York City. The George Dickel master distiller had just received the magazine’s Whiskey of the Year award for her George Dickel Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whiskey the day before. We’ll have her reaction and other highlights from the evening on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the threat of U.S. tariffs on more European whiskies is back. Trump Administration officials are looking at raising the tariffs already in effect on single malts from Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Congress has less than a month to extend the tax break small-scale distillers have been pushing for over the last two years.
Links: WhiskyFest | Old Elk | Stranahan’s | Blackened American Whiskey | Heaven Hill | Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canadian Chapter | George Dickel | Sazerac | Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery | Bearface Canadian Whisky | J.P. Wiser’s | Compass Box | Buffalo Trace | Aberlour | Bourbon Salon | Jack Daniel’s
There’s an old saying that “form follows function.” It’s the idea that a building’s design should fit its intended purpose, and over the years, that’s been the way whisky distilleries were designed by architects like Charles Doig – who developed the pagoda-like chimney vents that are a sure clue you’re looking at a distillery in the distance. There’s a boom in distillery construction around Scotland, and architects are taking cues from the past while designing contemporary distilleries that could be around for the next 100 years or longer. Gareth Roberts is one of those architects, with credits that include Ardnamurchan, Lindores Abbey, and Dartmoor distilleries. We’ll talk with him on WhiskyCast In-Depth.
In the news, we’ll have the details on this year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition-winning whiskies, along with the rest of the week’s whisky news. We’ll also share some of the things you’re most thankful for during the holidays and answer some of your whisky questions on Behind the Label.
Links: Organic Architects | International Wine & Spirit Competition | Spirit of Speyside Festival | The Balvenie | Bowmore | BBC News | Starward | Jura | Teeling Whiskey Company | Eden Mill | Glengoyne | Glenmorangie | The Whisky Exchange | Daftmill | Royal Mile Whiskies | The Three Drinkers | Single Malt Society of Madison | Widow Jane | George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon | Cotswolds Distillery
This week, we’re in Fredericton, New Brunswick for the 24th annual New Brunswick Spirits Festival! We’ll talk with one of the leading lights in Canadian Whisky, Canadian Club’s Tish Harcus, on WhiskyCast In-Depth. She’s in her 32nd year at Canadian Club, and plays multiple roles for the brand from serving as its global ambassador to maintaining 161 years of CC archives and helping lead new product development. For instance, the new Chronicles 42-year-old whisky and the entire Chronicles series came from her insistence on finding a special home for some vintage barrels instead of just blending them away. She’s also been a role model and mentor for many of her colleagues industry-wide.
In the news, a short-term spending agreement in Washington this week headed off a government shutdown that could have caused problems for whisky makers, while there’s still no progress on extending a federal excise tax break for small-scale distillers that expires at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We’ll have details on the week’s new whisky releases, and on Behind the Label, we’ll find out how a small-town whisky bar went high-tech to help its customers pick their whiskies.
Links: New Brunswick Spirits Festival | Canadian Club | Rosebank Distillery | Tomatin | Alberta Premium | Booker’s Bourbon | Michter’s | Bardstown Bourbon Company | Barrell Craft Spirits | Gordon & MacPhail | Douglas Laing & Co. | Royal Salute | Ronald McDonald House Charities Raffle | Jura | Highland Park | Benromach | Baker’s Bourbon | The Lunar Rogue