WhiskyCast is where it all begins. Now completing our 10th 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”.

Boom Days for Bourbon (Episode 644: June 4, 2017)

Bourbon barrels maturing in a warehouse at Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. File photo ©2014, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media. Bourbon’s growing global profile is at its highest in decades, and that’s good news in Kentucky. Even though Bourbon can be made anywhere in the US, Kentucky’s distillers still supply more than 90% of the world’s Bourbon. At a time when many of the Commonwealth’s industries are still recovering from the recession, the Bourbon industry has been one of Kentucky’s brightest stars. Carla Carlton’s new book “Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America’s Whiskey” looks not only at the impact in Kentucky, but serves as a guide for those yet to explore the mysteries of Bourbon. In the news, Kentucky’s governor has signed new Bourbon legislation into law as the Commonwealth celebrates its 225th anniversary of statehood. We’ll look at the week’s new whiskies and listen as Elton John and Jack White sing a new song about whiskey, too!


Links: Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America’s Whiskey | The Bourbon Babe | 1792 Bourbon | Wilderness Trail Distillery | Westland Distillery | Douglas Laing & Co. | Tullibardine | The Sun | PBS American Epic Sessions | Reserve 101 | Islay Festival of Malt & Music | Kentucky Bourbon Affair | Four Roses | Number One Drinks Company | Ardbeg

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Does The Nose Know For Sure? (Episode 643: May 28, 2017)

A lab flask full of whisky. Photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.You may be able to tell different styles of whiskies apart by nosing them – when you know what you’re nosing to begin with. When it comes to telling Bourbons and Rye whiskies apart in a blind nosing session, Dr. Jacob Lahne says your nose is more likely to focus on factors other than the mashbill, though. We’ll discuss sensory science and whisky with the Drexel University food scientist on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Brown-Forman has given Constellation Brands the brush-off, while distillers and farmers in Scotland are watching the skies and hoping for more rain soon. There’s plenty of rain in the forecast for Islay during this week’s Islay Festival of Malt & Music. We’ll have details on most of this year’s Feis Ile whiskies and an update on construction at Ardnahoe, the island’s newest distillery.

Links: Drexel University | Journal of Food Science | Brown-Forman | Constellation Brands | The Courier | Ardahoe Distillery | Bruichladdich | Laphroaig | Lagavulin | Caol Ila | Kilchoman | Bunnahabhain | Bowmore | Ardbeg | Glen Scotia | J.P. Wiser’s | Milk & Honey Distillery | Woodford Reserve | A. Smith Bowman | Jim Beam | Rabbit Hole Distilling | Orphan Barrel | Elijah Craig 


A Trip Down the Rabbit Hole (Episode 642: May 21, 2017)

Bourbon Barrel heads stacked at Speyside Cooperage in Scotland. File photo ©2015, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.What would you think of someone who gives up a successful career to make Bourbon for a living? If you said they should seek professional help, Dr. Kaveh Zamanian might not disagree with you. Then again, that’s just what this highly trained psychoanalyst did, setting aside his practice to form Rabbit Hole Distilling in Louisville. We’ll talk with him on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth and get an update from Sweden with Mackmyra’s Angela Forsgren D’Orazio. In the news, the saga of Australia’s Nant Distillery is headed for court again, Tullibardine gets a new master blender, and John Glaser revives Compass Box’s Double Single blend with a new edition.

Links: Rabbit Hole Distilling | Mackmyra | The Herald Sun | Tullibardine | Compass BoxHigh West | Ranger Creek | Slane Irish Whiskey | The Whisky Exchange | The Great Whisky Distillery Challenge | Julio’s Liquors | “It’s The Liquor Talking”

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Malting Barley the Old School Way (Episode 641: May 14, 2017)

A malting floor at Scotland's Highland Park Distillery. Photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Most Scotch Whisky distilleries source their malted barley from large commercial maltsters today, but a handful of distilleries still maintain their own floor maltings to supply at least some of their malt. This week, we’ll visit one of the malting floors at Highland Park and hear how they still do things the old-fashioned way. In the news, Heaven Hill master distiller Denny Potter  gets a promotion, Scotch Whisky industry leaders are keeping an eye on the candidates in next month’s UK parliamentary elections, and we’ll update the story of Glen Fargo American Malt Whisky’s trademark battle.

Links: Highland Park | Heaven Hill | Scotch Whisky Association | Unite | The Spirits Business | Glen Fargo American Malt Whisky | Crown Royal | Elijah Craig | Buffalo Trace | Southern Comfort | Douglas Laing & Co. | Jura | Dekantā | Bonhams | Julio’s Liquors | Johnnie Walker | Brothership Irish-American Whiskey | Prizefight Irish Whiskey 

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Making Whisky with Passion in Denmark (Episode 640: May 7, 2017)

Destillerie Nyborg's Kim Møller-Elshøj. Photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.Denmark is known for its beers and aquavit, but is starting to develop a reputation for whiskies as well with distilleries like Braunstein and Stauning winning awards for their rye and single malt whiskies. Nyborg Destilleri hopes to make its own mark when it releases its first single malts next month and opens its new distillery to the public after laying down casks since 2009. Kim Møller-Elshøj is Nyborg’s chief blender, and sat down with Mark Gillespie in Copenhagen the other day to talk about making whisky with a unique Danish character and passion, and you’ll hear our conversation on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Edrington has acquired The Glenrothes and reunited the Speyside distillery with its single malt brand. We’ll also find out how making Scotch Whisky has made one Scottish family very wealthy, and Hollywood is coming to Bourbon Country as an upcoming new movie depicts a band of secret agents as…Bourbon distillers. The latest movie in the Kingsman saga may not get four stars from the critics, but we have a rare 98-point whisky in this week’s tasting notes!

Links: Nyborg Destilleri | The Glenrothes | The Sunday Times | Scotch Whisky Association | Kingsman: The Golden Circle | Old Forester | Wild Turkey | Rebel Yell | Whyte & Mackay | Jura | Douglas Laing & Co. | Teeling Whiskey Company | Johnnie Walker | McLaren Honda | Andretti Autosport | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Spirit of Speyside FestivalHighland Park | Single Cask Nation | Gordon & MacPhail


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Viking Soul & Whisky in Denmark (Episode 639: April 30, 2017)

Highland Park Valkyrie photographed at Denmark's Ravnsborg Castle. Photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.This week, we’re in Copenhagen, Denmark for the launch of Highland Park’s new Valkyrie single malt and new packaging for its core range that doubles down on the Orkney distillery’s Viking heritage. The Vikings ruled Scotland’s Orkney Islands for around 800 years, and one out of three Orcadians today can still trace some of their lineage back to the Vikings. It’s been ten years since Highland Park started embracing that lineage, and we’ll discuss the thought processes behind a brand makeover with Highland Park’s Jason Craig and Danish designer Jim Lyngvild, who created Valkyrie’s unique look – and traces his own Viking heritage back to one of Orkney’s early rulers. We’ll also discuss the process of creating a new whisky from scratch with Highland Park’s lead whisky maker, Gordon Motion.

In the news, Scotch Whisky exports rose in 2015 on stronger sales overseas following the Brexit-induced freefall of the British pound. Environmental activists and the whisky industry are both criticizing a Scottish Government plan that could open up Scotland to fracking for shale gas with possible environmental impacts. Louisville now has its own official “Bourbon District” along Main Street’s Whiskey Row, and a Speyside cooper set a new world record this weekend during the Spirit of Speyside Festival.

Links: Highland Park | Scotch Whisky Association | The Scotsman | Louisville Business First | Orphan Barrel | Classic Malts | Johnnie Walker | Tipperary Distillery | Speyside Cooperage | Spirit of Speyside Festival |

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Whisky: It Starts with the Grain (Episode 638: April 23, 2017)

A farmer tilling his grain fields in Wyoming. File photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.The end of April has grain farmers in North America and Europe poised to get into the fields and start planting this year’s crops – and some of that grain will eventually wind up as whisky. Historically, many farmers distilled some of their grain into whiskey – both to prevent it from spoiling and to create something that could be sold or bartered. While those days are many decades in the past, a number of farmers have jumped back into distilling as a way to cultivate more profits than they get from selling grain to commodities brokers. We’ll meet the farmers behind the Whiskey Acres Distilling Company in Illinois and Far North Spirits in Minnesota on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, one of the pioneers in craft distilling has been sold, as William Grant & Sons acquired New York’s Tuthilltown Spirits this week. Tuthilltown co-founder Ralph Erenzo and Grant’s Jonathan Yusen join us to explain a deal seven years in the making. We’ll also try to answer a listener’s question about whether it’s safe to drink Bourbon from vintage ceramic decanters because of the possibility of lead contamination.

Links: Whiskey Acres Distilling | Far North Spirits | Tuthilltown Spirits | Sagamore Spirit | United Spirits | Jameson | Kilkerran | Woodford Reserve | Kentucky Derby Museum | J.P. Wiser’s | Sheep Dip | Pig’s Nose | EPA Lead Safety | FDA Lead Information | Shelter Point Distillery

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A Passion for Whisky Becomes a Career (Episode 637: April 16, 2017)

Glenfiddich's Tracie Franklin at The Logan in Philadelphia April 12, 2017. Photo ©2017, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.This week, we’ll talk with two people who have turned their passion for whisky into careers. Tracie Franklin is one of the newest brand ambassadors for Glenfiddich, but worked her way up through the ranks for many years before joining William Grant & Sons several months ago. Blair Bowman started a whisky club at his Scottish university, then founded World Whisky Day before becoming a writer and whisky consultant. Next month, he’ll try to set a world record by visiting 60 Scotch Whisky distilleries in a single day…just a few days before his first whisky book is published. We’ll meet them both on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary charity bottling raised more than $730,000 for Islay charities, while 200 bottles of Buffalo Trace’s O.F.C Vintage Bourbons raised almost $1.2 million dollars for non-profit groups in the U.S. We’ll also have details on the week’s new whiskies and an update on construction work at The Macallan’s new $245 million distillery in Scotland.

Links: Glenfiddich | The Great Whisky Distillery Challenge | The Pocket Whisky Guide | Lagavulin | O.F.C. Vintages | Woodford Reserve | Waterford Distillery | The Macallan | Highland Park | The Glenlivet | Chivas Regal | Slane Whiskey | Single Cask Nation | Basil Hayden’s | J&A Mitchell | J. Rieger & Co. | Limestone Branch

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Bladnoch’s Back in Business (Episode 636: April 9, 2017)

Bladnoch's new series of single malt Scotch Whiskies. Images courtesy Bladnoch Distillery.Scotland’s Bladnoch Distillery celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, but the Lowlands distillery almost never made it to that milestone. When Bladnoch owner David Prior bought the distillery out of administration two years ago and hired veteran distiller and blender Ian MacMillan to revive it, the stills had been silent for years and almost everything inside had to be scrapped. Now, almost all that remains of the old Bladnoch is the building, and the stills will be fired up for the first time later this month. We’ll talk with Ian MacMillan about the revival and Bladnoch’s first series of new releases in many years on WhiskyCast In-Depth, and we’ll also look at the upcoming Brexit negotiations between Great Britain and the European Union with former Scotland Secretary Michael Moore of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Edinburgh. In the news, a rare set of The Macallan’s Six Pillars series brought a high bid of nearly $1 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, and we’ll have the latest details on new distilleries in England and the USA.

Links: Bladnoch | PriceWaterhouse Coopers | The Macallan | Sotheby’s | Devon Live | Spirit of Yorkshire | Templeton Rye | American Distilling Institute Awards | Benromach | Box Distillery | Spirit of Hven | Whisky Advocate | Podblasts | Ben & Jerry’s | Spirit of Speyside Festival | Speyside Cooperage | March of Dimes Bourbon Benefit | March of Dimes | High West | Brora


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Celebrating the Spirit of Speyside (Episode 635: April 2, 2017)

A guitarist performs during a Spirit of Speyside Festival concert in Aberlour, Scotland in 2015. Photo ©2015, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.There will be music, food, and of course, plenty of whisky on hand during the Spirit of Speyside Festival coming up at the end of this month in Scotland. Ticket sales have already set a new record for this year’s festival, and we’ll get a preview from festival chairman James Campbell on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. We’ll also look at the revival of Kansas City’s historic J. Rieger & Co. Monogram whiskey brand with Andy Rieger, the great-great-great grandson of Jacob Rieger. In the news, Scotch Whisky industry leaders will be watching the UK’s upcoming Brexit negotiations with both benefits and risks in mind, Ireland’s craft distillers are hoping for help from a bill pending in that country’s Parliament, and we’ll have the story of a British man’s personal cask of Kilchoman single malt that disappeared after it was accidentally delivered to the wrong address.

Links: Spirit of Speyside Festival | J. Rieger & Co. | Scotch Whisky Association | Irish Whiskey Association | CBC News | Canadian Club | Nant Distillery | Australian Whisky Holdings | Lark Distillery | Kilchoman | BenRiach | Benromach | Compass Box | Julio’s Liquors | The Glenrothes | Arran | English Whisky Company | Knob Creek | Whisky Magazine | Wine Two Five | Balblair | Bladnoch | Ben & Jerry’s

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