DSR – VT – 001: Blackened American Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Bottled by Sweet Amber Distilling Company
Location: Shoreham, Vermont
Mash Bill: Undisclosed; A blend of predominantly bourbons & some rye
Age Statement: No Age Statement
Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV
Color: Bottled Apple Juice
Purchase Price: $49.99 from VA ABC Store, late 2019
Bottle Label Information:
Neck Label: Batch 093. “Blacken The World”
Front Label: “A blend of straight whiskeys finished in black brandy casks”
“Re-Mastered by Dave Pickerell”
Back Label: “Blackened. A bold collaboration of the finest, hand selected whiskeys. An unrivaled composition of craft & creativity. Born in cask, forged by sound.”
Metallica is a heavy metal band founded in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and lead vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett joined the band in 1983 while current bassist, Robert Trujillo, started in 2003. Over the past 38 years Metallica has sold an astonishing 125 million albums worldwide, 9 Grammys, and 23 Grammy nominations. Metallica has become one of the most influential rock bands of all time.
Discography: Kill ‘Em All (1983); Ride the Lightening (1984); Master of Puppets (1986); …And Justice for All (1988); Metallica (1991); Load (1996); Reload (1997); St. Anger (2003); Death Magnet (2008); Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016). Multiple live albums have also been released over the years.
See more at Metallica’s official website!
Dave Pickerell (August 14, 1956 – November 1, 2018)
Dave Pickerell is known for being one of the most influential individuals in modern American whiskey. Pickerell was a collegiate football player and cadet at the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point from 1974 through 1978, where he majored in Chemistry. After his time at the Academy, Pickerell would spend 11 years in the Army and obtain his Master of Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville.
After a short stint using his engineering background to build distilleries, Pickerell became the Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Kentucky. During his 14 year tenure at Maker’s Mark, Pickerell would see their product sales soar from approximately 175,000 cases to over 1 million cases per year. This, however, was just the beginning.
After leaving Maker’s Mark in 2008, Pickerell would go on to advise well over 100 distilleries including Hillrock Farms, the George Washington Distillery, Whistlepig, and Blackened American Whiskey.
For more on Mr. Pickerell’s legacy see here.
Blackened Whiskey is a true collaboration between two icons from different worlds. Metallica, a powerhouse from heavy metal and Pickerell, a true pioneer in American Whiskey.
Together, the two use a sonic-enhancement technique called “BLACK NOISE” to assist in aging Blackened Whiskey. Essentially, Blackened is made while beating the whiskey in the barrel through a Meyer’s Sound Sub-woofer pumping a selection of Metallica’s tunes. This process disrupts the whiskey in the barrels, causing greater interaction with the wood of the barrels thus enhancing the flavors.
After Pickerell’s death in 2018, Metallica turned to Rob Dietrich, formally of Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey, to lead the charge as distiller and blender of Blackened American Whiskey.
Our bottle from Batch 093 enjoyed the following playlist picked by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo:
- Through the Never (Metallica)
- Breadfan (Garage, Inc.)
- My Friend Misery (Metallica)
- Atlas, Rise! (Hardwired…To Self-Destruct)
- Dream No More (Hardwired….To Self-Destruct)
- Leper Messiah (Master of Puppets)
- Moth Into Flame (Hardwired….To Self-Destruct)
- Hit The Lights (Kill ‘Em All)
Tasting Date/Vessel: March 15, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: Immediate strong notes of Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Mike: Sweet and floral. Very pleasant. Reminiscent of pear juice.
Christian: Silky smooth and buttery, not thin. Refreshing hints of floral, citrus, and plum on the palate. Some cinnamon and oatmeal flavors present. Addition of water made the flavor bland.
Mike: Smooth and velvety, no burn whatsoever. Very fruity with notes of golden raisins, grapefruit, and pears. Slight hints of butterscotch.
Christian: Relatively short. Rye comes through with a hit of black pepper. As the rye pop dissipates, a slight sweetness with hint of apricot come through on the finish.
Mike: Short, smooth finish with a slight bite of black pepper at the end.
Christian: Let me preface this with the fact that I have been a life long Metallica fan. This fact alone is what drove me to purchasing this bottle. I wanted nothing more than for this whiskey to be a loud, brash, punch in the face, much like their music. Perhaps I built up an image of what I thought this whiskey should be and set an unattainable goal that was unfair to the product – maybe not.
Blackened whiskey was a different experience than anything I can remember trying. It is hard to put a finger on what makes it different. In the end it just came off like an instrument that is slightly out of tune – just flat! This whiskey could be a good introduction for a newbie. It is approachable and smooth with little heat. Having a pour neat was pleasant but left something to be desired. It just doesn’t have the complexities that an experienced whiskey drinker is likely to be looking for in a pour.
Mike: Blackened was a pleasing whiskey to sip but nothing stood out and grabbed my attention. The story is gimmicky and the price reflects that, in my opinion. This was a very well blended product by Dave Pickerell, but for a product being associated with Metallica, I was expecting something with a little more punch. Perhaps a higher proof would have accomplished that.
I enjoyed this neat and for the price, using this as a mixer or adding ice/water wouldn’t be recommended. It is a good whiskey but as mentioned before, nothing stood out. I wanted something more from it. I personally would pass by this on the shelf.
Conclusion: As a die-hard Metallica fan, I can understand the desire to own a Blackened Whiskey. I hunted this bottle for months and was finally able to get a VA ABC store to special order it for me. In fact, I bought two – one to try and one to keep as a collectible. No regrets.
The reality is that there are so many other amazing whiskey offerings on the shelf for $50. This one just didn’t tip the scale as one that stood out to us. It was good but not great, or at least it did not live up to what we envisioned a whiskey collaboration between these two giants would bring.
2 thoughts on “Review: Blackened American Whiskey”
I was hoping you guys would have liked it more because it sounded like an interesting bottle. Thanks for the review and I think I’ll just stick to the Metallica music and forget the whiskey.
It will be interesting to see if anything changes under the leadership of the new Master Distiller. We will have to keep an eye on it.