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”.
Earlier this year, Japan’s whisky makers agreed on a voluntary definition for “Japanese Whisky” after decades of quietly blending their own whiskies with imported whiskies from Scotland, Canada, and elsewhere. That new definition requires “Japanese Whisky” to actually be fermented, distilled, and matured in Japan, while whiskies blended with imports are now to be labeled as “world blends.” The change has put Japan’s whiskies under increasing scrutiny and demands for transparency, and one American-based upstart launched its whiskies last October with transparency in mind. While Shibui produces “world blends,” it also works with distillers on the island of Okinawa to create single grain Japanese whiskies made from rice. Shibui co-founder Nicholas Pollacchi explains the difference on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll also talk about Danish Whisky and a Whisky Danish, too…
Links: Shibui Whisky | Brown-Forman | Dad’s Hat Rye | Kentucky Bourbon Festival | Hard Truth Distilling | Stauning Whisky | Scarabus | Mackmyra | O&H Danish Bakery
Brendan McCarron had a safe, secure job as Dr. Bill Lumsden’s hand-picked “heir apparent” on the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg whisky creation team, but he was missing something. Earlier this year, he jumped at the chance to get back to distilling when Distell offered him the chance to become master distiller for its Bunnahabhain, Deanston, and Tobermory distilleries. Brendan did his first public appearances for Distell during Bunnahabhain’s virtual Feis Ile events this past week, and we’ll hear from him on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Islay’s distilleries have starting to gradually reopen to tourists as pandemic-related health restrictions are easing, while whisky tariffs may be back on the table as the European Union tries to push Great Britain to follow through on key Brexit agreements. We’ll also have the details on Uncle Nearest founder Fawn Weaver’s mission to help other minorities succeed in the spirits industry and much more!
Links: Bunnahabhain | Deanston | Tobermory | The Times of London | Uncle Nearest | Diageo | Bulleit | Ardbeg | Russell’s Reserve | Old Forester | Westland | Duncan Taylor & Co. | Mackmyra | High West | The Macallan | Writers’ Tears | “Left Bank” Kickstarter Campaign | Isle of Raasay Distillery | Still Austin Distillery | Brora
Before Prohibition, New York was known for its Rye whiskies distilled from locally-grown grain. Decades later, a new generation of New York State craft distillers came up with the Empire Rye concept as a way to promote both their individual rye whiskies and help encourage farmers to grow more rye in their fields. The first Empire Rye-labeled whiskies came out four years ago, and the six pioneering distilleries now number nearly 30 either bottling their own Empire Ryes or maturing them for future releases. Jason Barrett of Rochester’s Black Button Distilling was one of Empire Rye’s founders, and he’ll join us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, we’ll have details on some of the week’s new whiskies from around the world. We’ll also have an update on free trade talks between Great Britain and India that could ease the tariff burden on Scotch Whisky exports to India …and the story of a very good dog helping to sniff out faults in whiskies.
Links: Empire Rye | Black Button Distilling | Distell | Glenmorangie | The Whisky Exchange | Ardgowan | Glen Moray | Douglas Laing & Co. | Jura | Orphan Barrel | Penderyn | Girvan | Springbank | Ardbeg | Bruichladdich
Distillers depend on the environment for every ingredient that goes into making whisky and are under increasing pressure to reduce the environmental impact of making whisky, even at distilleries that have been around for more than two centuries. Glen Garioch Distillery in the Scottish Highlands is one example where sustainability means a return to some of Scotch Whisky’s traditional practices. As part of Beam Suntory’s “Proof Positive” initiative, Glen Garioch has installed a new direct-firing system for its stills and resurrected the old floor maltings to produce some of its malted barley on-site. We’ll get the details from Glen Garioch distillery manager Kwanele Mdluli and Alistair Longwell, who oversees Beam Suntory’s distilleries in Scotland, on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the British government is starting a consultation process that could mean the end of the import tariff on Bourbon and other American whiskies, while one of Scotland’s legendary distilleries has roared back to life after nearly four decades.
Links: Glen Garioch | Beam Suntory | UK Department of International Trade | Distilled Spirits Council | Brora | Lagavulin | Heaven’s Door | Catoctin Creek | GWAR | Milam & Greene | The GlenAllachie | Glenfarclas | The Ardmore | Jim Beam | Redbreast | Malt Mariners | Jack Daniel’s
Ed Belfour has won all kinds of awards during his Hall of Fame hockey career, from the Stanley Cup to an Olympic Gold Medal. Last month, one of the Belfour Spirits rye whiskies he made with his son Dayn and daughter Reaghan won their fledgling whiskey company its highest honor yet – a Double Gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. We’ll catch up with Ed and Dayn Belfour on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth, and try to pin them down for a prediction on this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs too. In the news, we’ll continue the countdown to the doubling of Europe’s tariffs on American-made whiskies at the end of this month. There’s labor news facing whisky makers in Scotland and the U.S., while Ireland’s Dingle Distillery is planning a major expansion. In our Behind the Label segment, we’ll look at a patent dispute between Australian distillers that’s threatening to become a worldwide problem.
Note: Several hours after this episode was released, the European Union announced that it would temporarily suspend the tariff increase on American whiskies that had been set to go into effect on June 1. We will have complete coverage on the next episode of WhiskyCast and elsewhere here at WhiskyCast.com.
Links: Belfour Spirits | Chivas Brothers | Unite | GMB Scotland | Hood River Distillers | Teamsters Local 670 | Dingle Distillery | Redbreast | Stauning Whisky | Douglas Laing & Co. | Old Forester | O’Shaughnessy Distilling | WhistlePig | Ben Nevis | Decadent Drinks | Dewar’s | Brora | Drinks Adventures | Archie Rose Distilling | Limeburners Distillery
Counterfeit whiskies are becoming more of a problem, but technology might just help provide a solution in the future. Whisky makers are starting to explore the use of blockchain technology to provide a traceable record of their whiskies right down to the bottle, with increased transparency and the potential to show if a bottle has been tampered with. Chris Ratcliff will break the code behind blockchain for us on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the deadline for a doubling of tariffs on American whiskies by the European Union and Great Britain is getting dangerously close at a time when federal pandemic economic aid for distilleries is still in its early days. We’ll have those stories and later, we’ll bust the myth of the so-called “neck pour.”
Links: Adelphi | Whisky Auctioneer | Catoctin Creek | St. Augustine Distillery | The Seattle Times | Clynelish | Heaven Hill | George Dickel | J.P. Wiser’s | Belfour Spirits | “A Last Chat with Jim McEwan” | Food & Wine | Black Button Distilling | Amrut | The Whisky Exchange | Glenfarclas
Skinner’s Joe Hyman is used to seeing bottles of pre-Prohibition whiskies, and even some going back to before the Civil War. That’s what he thought he was looking at when a South Carolina family decided to auction a bottle of Old Ingledew Bourbon that had been in its family for the last three generations. While the story was interesting, carbon dating testing came back with something even more unusual…the whisky had likely been distilled between 1760 and 1803! Joe Hyman joins us with more of the story on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, we’ll have the real numbers on what Conor McGregor and his partners made for selling their Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey brand, and it’s nowhere near the $600 million various media reports are claiming. We’ll also hear a tribute to Scotch Whisky from Prince Charles and much more!
Links: Skinner | Proper No. Twelve | The Scotsman | BenRiach | Gordon & MacPhail | Midleton Very Rare | “A Last Chat with Jim McEwan” | Kentucky Distillers Association | Tuthilltown Spirits | Gardiner Mercantile Distillery | Orphan Barrel | Old Fitzgerald | That Boutique-y Whisky Company | Fleurieu Distillery | Belgrove Distillery | Killara Distillery | Keepers of the Quaich
In our last episode, we looked at how different types of Rye produce different flavors in whisky. While that’s relatively new understanding for Rye, it’s been common practice for generations among distillers to search out the latest, greatest Barley strains available for making single malts. However, most of those strains are selected not by distillers, but by maltsters looking for yield per acre and not necessarily flavor per dram. Seattle’s Westland Distillery has been working with Barley mavericks in Washington’s Skagit Valley to explore strains that don’t exist in the “commodity system” for several years, and master distiller Matt Hofmann joins us with the story behind Colere, a new single malt series that focuses on those unique strains of Barley. We’ll also have the week’s whisky news, including a management shakeup on Islay that caught the island by surprise.
Links: Westland Distillery | Elixir Distillers | Company Distilling | Beam Suntory | Johnnie Walker | Talisker | Oxford Artisan Distillery | The Lakes Distillery | The Glasgow Distillery | Glen Scotia | The Whisky Exchange | Jameson | Nc’Nean Distillery | Jack Daniel’s | Larceny Bourbon | Torabhaig Distillery | Method & Madness | Glenfiddich
Whisky lovers can probably name at least a few varieties of barley commonly used to make single malts, but rye? Rye doesn’t get the same respect for its diversity, even though it’s been around for hundreds of years. Mike Swanson of Minnesota’s Far North Spirits has led a team of researchers looking into the flavors different strains of rye have when they’re distilled into whisky. That study has just been released, and he’ll discuss the findings with us on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll also compare some of the whiskies from that study, cover the week’s whisky news, and much more!
Links: Far North Spirits Rye Research | “Toasts Not Tariffs” Coalition | Castle & Key | Chivas Brothers | Unite | GMB Scotland | The Press & Journal | Ardbeg | Bladnoch | Master of Malt | Glenfiddich | Buffalo Trace | Virginia Distillery Company | Highland Park
Bourbons Bistro had everything ready to go for its 15th anniversary dinner in April…of 2020. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Louisville landmark to cancel its plans, and there were times when it looked like the bistro might suffer the same fate as many other bars and restaurants that went out of business over the past year. Jason Brauner and his team made it, though, and will celebrate with a 16th anniversary dinner on April 21. We’ll talk with Jason about the events of the past year – and the 15 years before it – on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, we now know more about Jeff Arnett’s future plans after leaving Jack Daniel’s ahead of a formal announcement next week, while Diageo plans a pricey release of rare Brora whiskies next month to celebrate the distillery’s reopening. We’ll also have details on two charity projects from the Bourbon world and much more on this week’s WhiskyCast!
Links: Bourbons Bistro | The Daily Times | Jack Daniel’s | Woodford Reserve | Wyoming Whiskey | Brora | Laphroaig | Compass Box | Ardnamurchan Distillery | Westland Distillery | Balblair | Dràm Mór | J.J. Corry | Fettercairn