Re-Visited: Blackened American Whiskey

DSR – VT – 002: 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 & Viscosity: Blackened Whiskey is medium gold in color. The whiskey produces a moderate viscous line in the tasting vessel and is thin bodied in appearance. A heavy lip of residue develops, then legs progress rapidly down the sides of the whiskey glass.

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.”

Distillery Background


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, earned 9 Grammys, and garnered 23 Grammy nominations. Whether you’re a heavy metal fan or not, there’s no denying that Metallica has become one of the most influential rock bands of all time.

Discography: Kill ‘Em All (1983); Ride the Lightning (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)

What Metallica is to the hard rock world, Dave Pickerell is to the world of modern American whiskey. He is easily one of the most influential individuals in the world of whiskey today. Mr. 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 of 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, Mr. 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 over 100 distilleries including Hillrock Farms, the George Washington Distillery, Whistlepig, St. Augestine’s Distillery, Blackened American Whiskey, and one of our personal favorites, Ragged Branch Distillery.

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” in order 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 Mr. 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, personally picked by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo:

  1. Through the Never (Metallica)
  2. Breadfan (Garage, Inc.)
  3. My Friend Misery (Metallica)
  4. Atlas, Rise! (Hardwired…To Self-Destruct)
  5. Dream No More (Hardwired….To Self-Destruct)
  6. Leper Messiah (Master of Puppets)
  7. Moth Into Flame (Hardwired….To Self-Destruct)
  8. Hit The Lights (Kill ‘Em All)

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: Re-Tasted September 26, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.


Christian: In my Glencairn glass, Blackened Whiskey quickly introduces itself with an abundance of sweetness with just a shred of bitterness from the oak charred barrel. The sweetness seems to come from a very light touch of brown sugar that is accompanied by a plentiful dose of fruit, similar to a crisp apple. A gentle swirl in my glass allows cereal grains and sweet honey to permeate the air. In addition, I begin to pick up a nice, soft vanilla bean aroma in the glass. Adding a splash of distilled water really ramps up a touch of spiciness in this pour, along with the dark brown sugar notes. This pour comes off a bit more rich than simply sweet.

Mike: Nosing this whiskey from the glass, I immediately detect soft floral honey aromas. Light brown sugar notes are observed as I nose in the glass deeper, but it becomes overwhelmed by ethanol. A swirl of the glass releases subtle hints of oatmeal very lightly sweetened with cinnamon and brown sugar. 


Christian: Blackened Whiskey is softly delicate on the mouth with a tinge of weight to it. You get just a thin coating that remains on the top of your tongue and roof of mouth. This whiskey is not as sweet on the palate as I had originally anticipated, given the nose. The flavor profile here is rather muted. The very first thing that jumps out to me is the influence of the brandy barrels on this pour. A very light touch of apple brandy, with its light apple sweetness, and copious amounts of barrel char really dominate early. This quickly transitions to a modest amount of brown sugar, oatmeal, and peppery rye spice jumping into play. There is no doubt that the brandy barrel influences the flavor profile of this whiskey. The distilled water removes any body this whiskey had previously. There is not much flavor left behind once the water is added but, I do notice a touch more corn, honey, and a smidge sweetness. It really reminds me of Corn Flakes, just not as sweet.

Mike: Blackened Whiskey has a mouthfeel that is sweet and honeyed, hitting directly on the center of my palate. Flavors of dry pastry crust mature and move front to back with a gentle peppery-ness closing. There is a noticeable bitterness of oak tannins and charred oak that sets on the back of the tongue for this pour.


Christian: The finish on this whiskey is short to medium and rather dry. There is little to no hug on the backend, with just a little tingle on the tongue. Again, there is a modicum of fresh red apple slice that hangs around long after the whiskey is consumed. This a nice touch but, the rear end of the pour is dominated by the bitterness of the oak barrel tannins and a touch of burnt brown sugar. Once the water is added, this whiskey has no lasting finish to speak of. There is literally no burn or evidence that you are drinking an alcoholic beverage. Again, the bitterness stands out the most with just a touch of apple essence servicing the water.

Mike: This whiskey offers a soft finish that is rather delicate and sweet. Essentially this pour offers no burn or heat and there is a lingering bitterness. The bitterness is comparable to burnt pastry crust or biscuits. 

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: As I believe I stated in our initial review, as a huge Metallica fan, I wanted nothing more than for this whiskey to be stellar. Instead, it fell short and left me wanting more. There is not a lot of energy, pizzazz, or typical Metallica attitude instilled in this whiskey. I can definitely see the influence of the brandy barrels this second time around, however, everything else is just so muted and unassuming. As we have grown in our whiskey journey, there is no doubt that I have developed a “type”. I really enjoy deep, rich flavors that are robust and flavorful – unfortunately, Blackened doesn’t meet that bill. If you are looking for a soft, gentle, approachable offering, then you may really enjoy this whiskey. However, if you find yourself having a palate more in line with mine, then I believe you are going to come away disappointed and yearning for more. As much as it pains me to say, Blackened Whiskey isn’t for me. And perhaps the worst part is the price point – a $50 price range doesn’t help me imagine myself buying newer batches to see if anything has changed as they continue with their process.

Rating: 2.25 Rickhouses

Mike: Blackened Whiskey has some traditional bourbon characteristics, but does not offer much in overall complexity. The flavors are muted and tend to get overpowered by its youth and lack of time in the barrel. This whiskey has a promising nose, but rapidly declines from there.

Rating: 2.125 Rickhouses


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