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”.

Japanese Whisky’s Legal Loophole (Episode 815: April 19, 2020)

The demand for Japanese whiskies has far outpaced the supply over the last five years, and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of a loophole in Japanese law big enough to sail a tanker ship through – as in a tanker ship full of whisky. There’s nothing to stop a clever whisky maker from buying bulk whisky from distillers in other countries and shipping it to Japan, then bottling it as “Japanese Whisky.” It’s been a common – but not widely discussed – practice among Japan’s whisky makers for many years, but with their reputations now on the line, industry and government are discussing how to implement a legal definition for Japanese whiskies. Liam McNulty, who blogs as “Whisky Richard” about Japanese whiskies, broke this story recently and will join us on WhiskyCast In-Depth with an explanation. In the news, we’ll have the latest on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on whisky makers, including one who lost out on help from the U.S. government when its bank dropped the ball.


Links: Nomunication | Kentucky Distillers Association | Eastside Distilling | Wigle Whiskey | Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board | The USBG Foundation | OurWhisky.com | The Glenlivet | New Riff | Arran | Teeling Whiskey Company | Pearse Lyons Distillery Charity Auction | The National | The Last Drop | Blackadder | Balcones Distilling | Gotland Whisky | Buffalo Trace

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Tasting Bourbons With the “Off Track” Team of Hinchcliffe, Rossi, & Durham

This is another in our series of special episodes during the coronavirus pandemic to help bring whisky lovers together while staying home, and comes from our live webcast on April 15, 2020. We revived the WhiskyCast Tasting Panel format for this webcast, and our panelists come from the world of IndyCar racing – where there are a number of Bourbon connoisseurs in the paddock. “Off Track with Hinch & Rossi” podcast hosts James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi have had great success on the race track, where Rossi made his mark in history by winning the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. Together with their “Off Track” podcast producer Tim Durham, they joined Mark for a tasting of the vintage Ancient Ancient Age 10-year-old, Jim Rutledge’s Cream of Kentucky 11.5-year-old, the Elijah Craig 21-year-old single barrel, and a Wyoming Whiskey single barrel bottled especially for the British Columbia provincial liquor stores.


Links: AlexanderRossi.com | Hinchtown.com | Ancient Age | Cream of Kentucky | Elijah Craig | Wyoming Whiskey

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95 Proof Whiskey…N95 Masks…Uncle Nearest Has Them Both! (Episode 814: April 12, 2020)

While we’re all raising our glasses to honor the health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers risking their lives during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey founder Fawn Weaver is doing something else to help them. For the last couple of months, she’s been spending thousands of dollars to buy much-needed N95 respirator masks on the open market at highly inflated prices – and giving them away to those essential workers around the United States. Shipping those masks has kept all of her workers employed, and she’s also hiring new employees that have been laid off by other companies. She’ll explain her reasoning on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, major whisky companies are projecting sharp sales declines worldwide because of the pandemic, while more events are being pushed back until later this year or cancelled outright. We’ll have the details, and we’ll also pay tribute to a longtime friend we lost this week.


Links: Uncle Nearest | Roma Whisky Festival | Diageo | Pernod Ricard | Rémy Cointreau | Virginia ABC | American Distilling Institute | Laws Whiskey House | Far North Spirits | Virginia Distillery Co. | Amrut | Hammer Head | Single Malts of Scotland | Craft Works Distillery | High West | Blood Oath | Woodford Reserve | Kings County Distillery | Duncan Taylor

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A Spanish Cooper Answers the Demand for Sherry Casks (Episode 813: April 5, 2020)

Spain’s tonelerias supply the Sherry-seasoned casks that help give some whiskies their unique character, but those casks are increasingly in demand by whisky makers worldwide. Rafa Cabello is a second-generation master cooper and the CEO of his family’s Toneleria del Sur cooperage in Montilla, Spain – and he’s become the go-to supplier in Spain for many American craft distillers. One of his clients is Seattle’s Westland Distillery, and we spent some time with Rafa Cabello there during the recent World Whisky Forum. You’ll hear our conversation on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the unions representing many Scotch Whisky workers are fighting attempts to restart production while the UK remains in a COVID-19 lockdown, while the one state that shut down liquor sales during the pandemic is having problems bringing online sales…well, on line. We’ll also have the winners of two recent whisky competitions and name this month’s Whisky Club of the Month.


Links: Toneleria del Sur | Edrington | Inver House Distillers | GMB Scotland | Food & Drug Administration | Tax & Trade Bureau | Dad’s Hat Rye | Federal Register | Scotch Whisky Association | Tomatin | Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board | Lew Bryson/Seen Through a Glass | San Francisco World Spirits Competition | American Craft Spirits Association Awards | Buffalo Trace | Aurora Spirit Distillery | Datz Tampa | World Whisky Forum | The Firkin Whisky Co. | Inchmoan | Cotswolds Distillery | Alistair Walker Whisky Co. | Whisky Belles | Glenfarclas

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Exploring Whisky Through Science (Episode 812: March 29, 2020)

There’s still a lot left to discover about whisky, even though the “water of life” has been around for centuries. Scientists are still unlocking the mysteries of whisky, and we’ll meet a couple of them on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. Seth DeBolt is the director of the Beam Institute at the University of Kentucky, and is leading a project to decode the DNA sequences that make up the genome of Quercus Alba, the American White Oak tree that many of the world’s whisky makers depend on. We’ll also talk with Stuart Williams of the University of Louisville’s engineering school about his development of a new technique for “fingerprinting” Bourbons – and it’s one you can replicate at home (though it may not be appropriate for your kid’s science fair project)! We’ll also have the latest details on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s affecting the whisky industry, along with a look at why pot stills may make great whisky, but lousy hand sanitizer.


Links: University of Kentucky Beam Institute | WhiskeyWebs.org | Distilled Spirits Council | Scotch Whisky Association | The Spirits Business | Kentucky Distillers Association | Tomatin | Whisky: The Virtual Show | Whisky Magazine Awards | Lux Row Distillers | Douglas Laing & Co. | Scotch Whisky Industry Review | Ars Technica  | Ardbeg | Elijah Craig | Bunnahabhain | High Coast | Catoctin Creek

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Coronavirus Hits the Whisky Industry (Episode 811: March 22, 2020)

The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic took full hold on the whisky industry this week, as governments not only shut down bars and limited restaurants to take-out and delivery service, but imposed more bans on large public gatherings such as whisky festivals and even closed liquor stores in at least one U.S. state. That’s led to tens of thousands of layoffs throughout the hospitality industry globally and economic stimulus programs aimed at mitigating some of the impact. We’ll take a look at the big picture and a close-up view as well, including one Minneapolis distillery where the entire tasting room staff was laid off this week. Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits is still trying to keep production going while also fielding calls from his colleagues around the U.S. as president of the American Craft Spirits Association. Spirits producers have already donated nearly $2 million to help laid-off bartenders and bar workers, and we’ll find out where that money is going and how you can help as well.


Links: Distilled Spirits Council | Ko’Olau Distillery | Dry Diggings Distillery Sanitizer Support | U.S. Bartenders Guild Foundation | Spirit of Speyside Festival | Secret Spirits | Jack Rose Dining Saloon | Sotheby’s | Irish Whiskey Auctions | American Distilling Institute | Tennessee Distillers Guild | Old Forge Distillery | Du Nord Craft Spirits | Glenmorangie | Alistair Walker Whisky Company | Springbank | Jameson | Redbreast | Brewing & Distilling Analytical Services | Society of Distilling Scientists & Technologists

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The Past & Future of Whisky

Since so many people are working from home, “self-isolating” or more because of the coronavirus crisis, we’ve decided to produce some extra content to help you pass the time.

Earlier this month during DramFest 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand, WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie took part in a panel discussion on “the past and future of whisky” with veteran whisky writer Charles Maclean, Michael Fraser Milne of the Whisky Galore shop in Christchurch, and moderator Dave Broom.

The DramFest 2020 panel (L-R): Dave Broom, Michael Fraser Milne, Charles Maclean, and Mark Gillespie. Photo courtesy Whisky Galore/DramFest.Their hour-long discussion is a bit too long for one of our regular episodes, but we thought you might enjoy listening to it on its own. The panel covered everything from the collapse of the Scotch Whisky industry in the early 80’s to what the future holds given the combination of a growing craft distilling movement, global politics, and climate change.

Thanks to Michael and Stella Fraser Milne of Whisky Galore and DramFest 2020 for helping to make this special episode possible, along with the sound crew at Christchurch Town Hall and the staff at Whisky Galore.


Photos courtesy of Whisky Galore/DramFest.

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Irish Whiskey’s Modern-Day Maverick (Episode 810: March 15, 2020)

Louise McGuane wants to revive a key part of Irish Whiskey’s past, but she keeps wrestling with its present-day form in a bid to change the future of Ireland’s whiskey industry. The Chapel Gate Whiskey Co. founder has become one of Irish Whiskey’s most outspoken voices in recent years, and recently spoke at the World Whisky Forum in Seattle. WhiskyCast is the only place where you’ll be able to hear her comments on this St. Patrick’s week…a week in which the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic has forced Ireland’s legendary pubs to close, along with bars and distillery visitor centers around the world. We’ll have the details in this week’s news, along with updates on whisky festivals and other events cancelled or postponed by the pandemic. We’ll also honor longtime Bruichladdich legend Duncan McGillivray, who passed away this past week.


Links: Chapel Gate Whiskey Co. | Irish Whiskey 360 | Bruichladdich | Ardbeg | Mackmyra | Kilchoman | Hinch Distillery | Lambay Whiskey | Kilbeggan | Glendalough | Redbreast | Hotel Tango Spirits | Old Fourth Distillery | Shine Distillery & Grill

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On the Road at DramFest 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand (Episode 809: March 8, 2020)

This week, we’re on location at Whisky Galore’s DramFest 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand! They’ve been making whisky in New Zealand since the first Scottish settlers arrived, but after the country’s one remaining distillery closed in the early 90’s, New Zealanders had to import almost all of their whisky. That changed a few years ago with the growth of a farm-based distilling industry that’s a return to the days when farmers turned their crops into whisky.  We’ll take a look at this resurgence on WhiskyCast In-Depth, taste a few local whiskies, and get some perspective from whisky lovers in Your Voice. In our Behind the Label segment, we’ll meet a Christchurch businessman with a unique hobby – he’s amassed one of the world’s largest collections of Jim Beam memorabilia!


Links: DramFest | Whisky Galore | The Spirits Workshop | Keepers of The Quaich | Redbreast | Ardnamurchan | Kilchoman | GlenDronach | Chapel Gate Whiskey Company | Dewar’s | Paul John Whisky | Ardbeg | Secret Spirits | Thomson Whisky | Auld Distillery | Lammermoor Distillery | The New Zealand Whisky Collection | TashMcGill.com | Cardrona Distillery | Beam Gallery

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Ice(land) and Whisky Go Together: Episode 808: March 1, 2020

If you just needed a whisky-related reason to visit Iceland, we have one for you on this week’s episode. Eimverk Distillery grew out of the dreams of two brothers who just wanted to be farmers, but found it was cheaper to import grain for cattle feed than grow it themselves. There was also some whisky involved, as Eimverk production manager Eva Mariá Sigursbjörnsdóttir explains on WhiskyCast In-Depth. There were also some sheep involved in at least part of the process, since one of Eimverk’s whiskies is smoked not with peat – but with sheep dung! We’ll have tasting notes for it, too.

In the news, the coronavirus outbreak could cost Diageo as much as £200 million in profits this year and other whisky makers are preparing for losses of their own. The University of Kentucky is not only building an on-campus distillery in Lexington, but a million-dollar donation this week will fund construction of a new barrel “dormitory” as well. We’ll have that story and look at how the mavericks at Brewdog are already ruffling feathers in the Scotch Whisky industry. Finally, if you’ve ever wondered why the hoops on whisky barrels are covered with rust, we’ll explain on Behind the Label. 


Links: Eimverk Distillery | Diageo | Pernod Ricard | Dekantā | Kavalan | Chivas Brothers | James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits | Independent Stave Company | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Blanton’s | Angel’s Envy | Amrut | Wemyss Malts | Brewdog | DramFest 2020 | DramFest American Whiskey Tasting | Redbreast Ireland Competition | Yamazakura 963 | High Coast

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