Blackened Blending

Blackened American Whiskey started as a collaboration between the late Dave Pickerell and Metallica that is a batch of North American whiskeys including Indiana Bourbon, Canadian Rye, Kentucky Bourbon, and Tennessee Whiskey. It is finished in Black Brandy barrels. It is enhanced using a “sonic enhancement process” they call “black noise.” That is to say, they play Metallica music at the whiskey to produce “acoustic cavitation.”

For each batch number, a Metallica band member selects a playlist, and fans can go online, look up the playlist, and listen to the playlist as they sip that particular batch of Blackened whiskey.

For batch 105, I got a strong sensation of dried blueberries in addition to the elements of earthy cedar forests. On the palate there was a strong sensation of buttered popcorn with a hint of black pepper. There was a lovely oily mouthfeel, as well.

For the blending seminar, Rob Dietrich, formerly of Stranahan’s, led us through his process and philosophy of blending. He typically starts by nosing each whiskey expression and then determining how they might complement each other before beginning to experiment with blends. For our blend, we started with 9 ml Tennessee Bourbon, 3 ml Indiana Rye, and 3 ml of Kentucky Bourbon. We let the batch sit for a little bit while we blended our next batch. The second batch included 13 ml of Indiana Rye, 1 ml of Kentucky Bourbon, and 1 ml of Tennessee Bourbon.

In many blending seminars I’ve been to previously, you are blending or “batching” barrels of the same whiskey to create a small batch. At Blackened, they are combining whiskeys from a variety of different locations and even different styles. Other distilleries like Widow Jane and brands like Barrell are doing this to create a unique “snapshot” of American whiskey at a moment in time. It’s truly an art form.

Blackened’s philosophy, formed by Pickerell and Metallica, creates a unique expression of American Whiskey you truly won’t find anywhere else. The playlist is just the icing on the barrel.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

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