Metallica Whiskey, Four Roses 130th Anniversary Bourbon & More New Releases

Crank up the subwoofers and get ready to rock and roll: Metallica has its own whiskey, and it was created in part by the band’s music. A blend of straight American whiskeys selected and blended by master distiller Dave Pickerell, Blackened was put through a proprietary “sonic enhancement” process that used Metallica songs to create sound waves that impact chemical reactions taking place in the aging whiskey.

Coming out in late September, the whiskey will be available in a handful of states and online for $43.

Less glitzy but equally exciting: Four Roses has announced its 2018 Limited-Edition Small Batch. This year’s release celebrates the distillery’s 130th anniversary. With just over 13,000 bottles available and priced at $140, expect it to be in high demand among both Four Roses fans and collectors.

Speaking of collecting, Highland Park has unveiled its second-ever 50 year old whisky. A mere 274 bottles, packaged with a custom crystal decanter, will be available at $15,000 apiece.

Back to more affordable things: Clyde May’s is launching a straight rye, sourced from MGP Distillery. The $45 whiskey will be widely available.

Meanwhile, FEW Spirits in Chicago has created a new American whiskey, a marriage of straight bourbon, straight rye, and a cherrywood-smoked straight malt whiskey. Initially available in New York and Illinois, the whiskey will eventually be more widely distributed at a price of $50.

If you’re local to Texas or Tennessee (or traveling there), there are some distillery exclusives to look for. Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas is releasing a high-rye bourbon. Available only at the distillery, it will cost $80. Up in Nashville, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery has a new limited release in its Belle Meade Craftsman Cask Collection, a bourbon finished in 100% Tannat wine barrels. The whiskey costs $125 and is for sale at the distillery only.

Finally, the Grant’s blended scotch brand has renamed and repackaged its core whisky. Now known as Grant’s Triple Wood, reflecting the three cask types used for maturation, the liquid inside remains the same as before, and is widely available at $17 a bottle.

Read on for full details.

Blackened Whiskey

Style: Blend of straight whiskeys
Origin: Multiple
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $43
Release: September 2018
Availability: California, Florida, New York, and Wisconsin, as well as online at thinkliquor.com and spiritedgifts.com

Need to know:

Legendary rock group Metallica has partnered with master distiller Dave Pickerell to create a whiskey that has been “finished” with the band’s own music. Blended from multiple straight whiskeys, sourced from undisclosed distilleries, Blackened spends several weeks finishing in so-called black brandy barrels. During that time, the barrels are subjected to low-hertz sound waves that interact with the wood and liquid to enhance molecular reactions taking place. The sound waves, of course, are created by playing Metallica’s music, using technology developed for them by Meyer Sound. Each batch of the whiskey will have its own custom playlist, available for streaming at blackenedwhiskey.com.

The partnership between Pickerell and Metallica is called Sweet Amber Distilling Co., and there are plans to open a distillery and brand experience in the Bay Area next year.

Whisky Advocate says:

Whiskeys that have been “finished” or “enhanced” with sound waves aren’t new; several producers, including O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Kentucky, use sonic waves to catalyze esterification or other chemical reactions in aging whiskey. (For an in-depth look at how this works, check out the Spring 2018 issue of Whisky Advocate.)

But Pickerell and Metallica are adamant that their process—trademarked as BLACK NOISE—does not circumvent or replace traditional barrel aging. The whiskeys are already aged when blended and put through the finishing process. In the press release for this whiskey, Pickerell says, “This just kicks the finishing process up a notch. The sonic enhancements shake the whiskey molecules to their core. At a low-enough frequency, flavor elements start to work their way out of the barrels and into the blend.”

According to the release, the whiskey has much less intensity than its name would suggest. Stay tuned for Whisky Advocate’s review in an upcoming issue.

Four Roses 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 54.15% ABV
Price: $140
Release: September 2018
Availability: 13,140 bottles

Need to know:

This year’s limited-edition release of Four Roses Small Batch celebrates the distillery’s 130th anniversary. It was blended from four distinct bourbons: 10 year old OBSV, 13 year old OBSF, 14 year old OESV, and 16 year old OESK.

Whisky Advocate says:

Scratching your head at those strings of letters? Four Roses has ten different recipes for its bourbon, and the combinations of letters are a shorthand code for each one. The distillery’s website has a great explanation, as does longtime Four Roses manager and brand ambassador Al Young, who came in last year to explain the flavor differences among the various recipes using his own special-edition bourbon as a guide.

Highland Park 50 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islands)
Age: 50 years old
Proof: 42.5% ABV
Price: $15,000
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 274 bottles, including 77 for the U.S.

Need to know:

Created by Highland Park’s longest-serving whisky maker, Max McFarlane, this single malt comes from two sherry-seasoned Spanish oak hogsheads laid down in 1964. The two casks were transported from the Orkney distillery to Glasgow in 2009, where they were married for another eight years of maturation. A small amount of whisky distilled in 1960—some of which was released in 2010 as Highland Park’s first 50 year old—was also included in the final blend. The whisky is packaged in a custom box with a crystal decanter.

Whisky Advocate says:

Although Highland Park didn’t make the cut for our top ten most collectible distilleries, its whiskies certainly qualify as highly desirable for both collectors and drinkers. And at this price, the whisky is bound mainly for cellars and cabinets, rarely to be tasted. But if you do get a chance to try it, let us know what you think!

Clyde May's Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: 3 years old
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $45
Release: September 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

The first rye from Clyde May’s, this is a 3 year old straight rye distilled in Indiana.

Whisky Advocate says:

Like many young brands, Clyde May’s sources whiskey from other distilleries, although the company has plans to build a distillery of its own in Troy, Alabama. While there’s no information about which distillery or distilleries provide the whiskey for Clyde May’s bourbon and Alabama whiskey—bourbon with a bit of added flavoring to give the impression of dried apples in the barrel—this rye comes from Indiana, a sure signal that it was made at MGP Distillery.

FEW American Whiskey

Style: Blend of straight whiskeys
Origin: Illinois
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46.5% ABV
Price: $50
Release: September 2018
Availability: New York and Illinois, with expansion planned

Need to know:

“Whiskey” covers a whole range of possibilities in terms of mashbill, aging regimen, and other production details. In this case, FEW has blended its bourbon and rye with an experimental cherrywood-smoked malt whiskey. Currently available in limited amounts, FEW Spirits founder Paul Hletko is already making more of this whiskey, with plans to expand its distribution in the spring of 2019 and the coming years.

Whisky Advocate says:

Blends of different styles of straight whiskey are a growing trend—in recent months, we’ve seen releases from Basil Hayden’s and Coppersea, not to mention High West’s ongoing limited-edition Bourye. And who can forget Little Book The Easy, Whisky Advocate’s number-11 whiskey in the 2017 Top 20?

Look for my review of FEW American whiskey in the Fall 2018 issue of Whisky Advocate, hitting newsstands in late September.

Balcones High Rye Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Texas
Age: Not stated
Proof: 62% ABV
Price: $80
Release: September 2018
Availability: Distillery only

Need to know:

This new bourbon from Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas features a high-rye mashbill: 55% blue corn, 32% Texas-grown rye, 7% specialty ryes, and 6% Golden Promise malted barley. It is available in limited amounts at the distillery only.

Whisky Advocate says:

Along with this new bourbon, Balcones is also releasing the 2018 edition of its Blue Corn bourbon, made from 100% blue corn. Both whiskeys will be released first at the distillery on September 8, and the High Rye bourbon will only be for sale there, while the Blue Corn will be distributed throughout Texas.

Belle Meade Tannat Cask Finish Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated
Proof: 48.9% ABV
Price: $125
Release: September 2018
Availability: Distillery only

Need to know:

The third release in Nelson Green Brier Distillery’s Craftsman Cask Collection, this is 10 year old bourbon finished in barrels that previously held Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery 100% Tannat.

Whisky Advocate says:

While its own whiskey is aging, Nelson’s Green Brier has used its Belle Meade line of sourced whiskeys to generate revenue and, it seems, have some fun. The Belle Meade core lineup includes cognac, madeira, and sherry cask finishes, while this limited-edition Craftsman Cask Collection has gotten even more creative: the first two releases were Mourvèdre and honey barrels.

Grant's Triple Wood

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $17
Release: August 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Grant’s has repackaged its flagship blended scotch with a new name: Grant’s Triple Wood. The name reflects the three types of cask used in maturing the whiskies: first-fill bourbon, second-fill bourbon, and virgin oak.

Whisky Advocate says:

Formerly known as Grant’s Family Reserve, this is the same whisky as before—just with a new name. Grant’s is also releasing several new expressions in conjunction with the rebranding, but those will not be available in the U.S. right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More From Whisky Weekend