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WhiskyCast

Each week's episode features the latest whisky news, a calendar of upcoming events, and interviews with whisky experts. For more information, links, and a complete archive of past episodes, visit www.whiskycast.com.

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WhiskyCast Episode 538: June 6, 2015

This week, we're looking at the end of an experiment nearly 14 years in the making...Buffalo Trace's Single Oak Project. The attempt to create "Bourbon's Holy Grail" used 96 trees to make 192 special casks filled with whiskey for 8 years, with nearly 1,400 different possible variables that could have an impact on the final whiskey. More than 5,000 people posted their tasting notes on the 192 different bottlings, but it took a team of whisky writers to make the final selection from five finalists. We'll discuss the results with Buffalo Trace CEO Mark Brown, along with the fallout from the "PappyGate" series of whiskey thefts, the distillery's expansion plans, and projections for future Bourbon supplies. In the news, Diageo's Bulleit Bourbon is the latest brand to face a class-action lawsuit over the language on its labels, Brown-Forman is jumping into the growing Irish Whiskey market with a $50 million deal for Slane Castle's fledgling distillery, and we'll have the latest on the week's new whiskies.

39mins

7 Jun 2015

Rank #1

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WhiskyCast Episode 632: March 12, 2017

Whisky was historically thought of as a "man's drink" - but today, not only are more women drinking whisky, but women make up around 40% of the Scotch Whisky industry's work force. Diageo's Maureen Robinson is one of the industry's pioneering women, and is celebrating her 40th anniversary in the whisky business this month. She's the first woman to hold the title of Master Blender in Scotland, and joins us for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. We'll talk not only about the changes she's seen over the last four decades, but the subtle art and science that goes into blending whiskies, too. In the news, the fight for control of Australia's Nant Distillery is getting uglier as Nant's founders and its would-be buyer fire charges of mismanagement and more at each other. The UK's government is raising taxes on domestic whisky and spirits sales this week in a move that caught the Scotch Whisky Association and other drinks industry groups by surprise, and the global boom in Irish Whiskey sales is leading to more expansion plans at Bushmills. We'll also have details on the week's new whiskies and tasting notes for whiskies from Balblair, Woodford Reserve, and Ardbeg.

52mins

12 Mar 2017

Rank #2

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WhiskyCast Episode 494: August 30, 2014

Steve Gertman of California's Ascendant Spirits produces Breaker Bourbon, and his brand is one of those targeted by a Chicago-based law firm that specializes in class-action lawsuits, and is "investigating" claims by small-batch whisky brands about the source of their whiskies. Like many small producers, Gertman has been sourcing whiskey from other distillers while the Bourbon he's making is aging, and he responds to the claims on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth along with criticism he's received since appearing on WhiskyCast last January. In the news, Templeton Rye is also a target of the law firm's probe, and has announced that it will change its label to reflect that the whiskey is distilled in Indiana and not Iowa. We'll also have reaction from other targets of the probe as well, along with the reaction of Charbay's Marko Karakasevic to last weekend's Napa Valley earthquake and much more!

30mins

30 Aug 2014

Rank #3

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WhiskyCast Episode 636: April 9, 2017

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 PriceWaterhouse Coopers 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.

1hr 6mins

9 Apr 2017

Rank #4

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WhiskyCast Episode 628: February 12, 2017

This week, we'll be talking about money and politics along with whisky, and of course, there are connections between all three. With the world's attention focused on the transition to the Trump Administration in the U.S., the spirits industry is hoping to benefit from what it sees as a pro-business atmosphere in Washington. We'll discuss the political climate with Distilled Spirits Council CEO Kraig Naasz, and we'll get Wall Street's perspective with David Bolton of Spirited Funds and Alex Gordon of ETF Managers Group. They're behind a new exchange-traded fund that gives investors the ability to buy into the global whisky industry on the stock market. In the news, Beam Suntory plans to close its Canadian Club brand home in Windsor, Ontario next month, and the city's mayor will meet with company executives in Chicago this week to make the case for keeping it open. Bourbon has become Kentucky's fastest-growing industry, with an $8.5 billion economic impact on the state's economy each year...while the wider U.S. spirits industry also showed significant growth in 2016. We'll have details on the week's new whiskies, and this week's tasting notes include single malts from Scotland, India, and Ireland!

59mins

12 Feb 2017

Rank #5

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WhiskyCast Episode 623: January 8, 2017

The controversy over Beam Suntory's sudden decision to change its plans for a Booker's Bourbon price hike during the New Year's holiday weekend left both retailers and consumers confused. We'll look at whisky pricing from the retailer's perspective with Ryan Maloney of Julio's Liquors in the Boston suburb of Westborough, Massachusetts, and he'll explain how retailers set their prices and work with whisky makers and distributors. We'll also catch up with Ben Bowers as he winds up his "A Dram a Day" campaign to raise money for a British children's hospital on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Constellation Brands is still expanding its craft distilling portfolio with a deal announced this week for a stake in Virginia's Catoctin Creek Distillery, frequent fliers will find a new Bourbon bar in Louisville's airport, and with the inauguration of Donald Trump closing in, a signed bottle of the Scotch Whisky bottled for his first Scottish golf course is going on the auction block.

1hr 7mins

8 Jan 2017

Rank #6

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WhiskyCast Episode 458: December 29, 2013

The classic Irish pub is becoming an endangered species, thanks to a combination of progress and the economy. There are some pubs that still cling to tradition, and the Tap Tavern in Kinsale, County Cork, is a classic example. The Tap's been owned by four generations of the same family since 1886, and Mary O'Neill has been in charge since she inherited the pub from her aunt in 1974. We'll meet Mary and her son Brian on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the whisky industry loses two legends, another potential bidder may enter the contest for Whyte & Mackay, and Whisky Advocate announces its annual year-end awards.

19mins

29 Dec 2013

Rank #7

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WhiskyCast Episode 622: January 1, 2017

Blending is part art and part science, and unless you're drinking a single cask whisky, every dram you try has been tweaked by the nose of an experienced blender. Nancy Fraley describes herself as a "ghost blender," but it's fair to call her and other blending consultants "noses for hire" - working in the background to create whiskies for distillers large and small. Nancy's client list is shrouded in the secrecy of non-disclosure agreements, but she can talk about some of her work and shares some of her secrets with us on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, we'll look at a couple of whiskies raising serious money for charities, along with a new chapter of the Red Tape Follies. We'll also have some of your final drams of 2016 and the first drams of 2017 as we kick off a new year.

50mins

1 Jan 2017

Rank #8

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WhiskyCast Episode 617: November 27, 2016

What we think of today as the boom in craft distilling started 20 years ago this year, when San Francisco brewer Fritz Maytag bottled the first batch of Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey at Anchor Brewing in the city's Potrero Hill neighborhood. In 1993, Maytag and his staff cobbled together parts to build a distillery inside the brewery, long known for its Anchor Steam beer, and Bruce Joseph was put in charge of running the still. Today, Bruce Joseph is still Anchor's head distiller, and he'll join us for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the results of this year's International Wine & Spirits Competition are in, with William Grant & Sons taking top honors. Two more estate distilleries are being proposed in Scotland, and while North Dakota is known for its barley...it's never been known for its whiskey...until now. Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey was unveiled this week in Fargo, and we'll find out how its creator avoided a costly legal battle over the name. We'll also have details on this week's new whiskies, along with a way to count down the days - or drams - until Christmas. 

43mins

28 Nov 2016

Rank #9

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WhiskyCast Episode 467: February 23, 2014

Alwynne Gwilt couldn't stand whisky...hated it, in fact. That is, until a former boss in London dragged the Canadian expat to a media tasting. It's not quite the same transformation Peter Parker had following his encounter with a radioactive spider, but that evening turned Alwynne into "Miss Whisky". Now, she's on her own blogging, freelance writing, and leading whisky tastings...and joins us for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Diageo plans to open Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville to the public, but there are still no official plans to restart production...yet. Beam loses a preliminary battle in its legal fight over Irish whiskey supplies, Teeling Whiskey gets more distribution in Latin America, and The Glenrothes uncovers a single cask from 1969.

36mins

23 Feb 2014

Rank #10

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

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 Destillerie 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!

42mins

7 May 2017

Rank #11

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Making Sense(s) of Whisky (WhiskyCast Episode 658: September 10, 2017)

Flavor, aroma, and taste. We all know what they mean...or do we? Gerry Nichols isn't so sure. He's a veteran judge in beer and coffee competitions, and has been studying the research of neuroscientists into the way our brains process flavor, aroma and taste. His conclusion: science knows how we process sensory information, but scientists do a lousy job of explaining it - and what's worse...they don't always take one key factor into account. He'll tell us what that is on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, tourism is booming at whisky distilleries worldwide, Jack Daniel's expands its foray into Rye, we'll resolve the question of how Quebec's liquor regulators label Kavalan's Taiwanese single malts, and we'll take another trip to the ice cream store!

53mins

11 Sep 2017

Rank #12

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Glencairn's Whisky Glasses Shatter Expectations (WhiskyCast Episode 648: July 2, 2017)

When Raymond Davidson and his sons started marketing the Glencairn Whisky Glass in 2001, they thought the target audience was whisky blenders and industry professionals, and never imagined much consumer demand. Last year, Glencairn Crystal sold more than three million of its iconic and often-copied whisky glasses worldwide - up 22 percent from the previous year. Scott Davidson is Glencairn Crystal's managing director now, and joins us on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Bacardi is entering the Irish Whiskey market with a deal to acquire a minority stake and U.S. distribution rights for Teeling Whiskey. Sweden's Box Distillery is planning a major expansion, and a few bottles of the final cask of Black Bowmore 1964 are now available in the U.S. We'll also welcome another new Brand Partner to WhiskyCast and announce the winner of our latest giveaway, too!

46mins

2 Jul 2017

Rank #13

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Straight Shooting with Bulleit Bourbon Founder Tom Bulleit (WhiskyCast Episode 645: June 11, 2017)

Tom Bulleit wasn't born into the Bourbon business, but even as a successful Kentucky lawyer, he knew there was something calling him to whiskey. He eventually tracked down his great-great-grandfather's Civil War-era whiskey recipe, and in 1987, he launched Bulleit Bourbon. Thirty years later, Bulleit is viewed by many as an "overnight success," and is the flagship of Diageo's Bourbon portfolio. In March, Diageo opened the Bulleit Distilling Company distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and this past week introduced Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon in New York City. That's where we sat down with Tom Bulleit for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, this week's election surprise in Great Britain sent whisky stocks rising and the British pound falling, Irish officials want the European Union to consider a ban on alcohol advertising, and German scientists have come up with a new way to tell counterfeit whiskies from the real thing. 

39mins

11 Jun 2017

Rank #14

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There’s No Whisky Without the Barrels (WhiskyCast Episode 660: September 24, 2017)

It's often said that wood is responsible for most of a whisky's flavor, and if that's the case, then the people who make the barrels for maturing whisky have a major impact on the whiskies we drink. Independent Stave Company's cooperages dominate the market for new Bourbon barrels, and those barrels then get used for decades to mature other whiskies around the world. Brad Boswell's great-grandfather founded the company in 1912, and he took over for his father as Independent Stave's CEO earlier this year. We'll talk with him about the cooperage side of the whisky business, along with the potential impacts from climate change and government regulation, on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the ringleader of the "Pappygate" Bourbon thieves in Kentucky has pleaded guilty and faces 15 years in prison, while there's still no word on whether the stolen whiskey now sitting in a secured evidence locker will face the death penalty. We'll also have details on this year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection series and the new Northern Border Collection series of Canadian whiskies from Corby's Hiram Walker Distillery. In this week's tasting notes, we'll have details on a whisky fit for ringing in the New Year...Israeli style.

45mins

25 Sep 2017

Rank #15

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The Tale of "Uncle Nearest" and a Whiskey Legacy (WhiskyCast Episode 666: November 5, 2017)

In 2015, Brown-Forman acknowledged what had been an open secret around Lynchburg, Tennessee for generations - that Jack Daniel's distilling mentor was Nathan "Nearest" Green, a slave on the farm owned by Dan Coll until the end of the Civil War. After the war ended, Jack Daniel hired the newly-freed Nathan Green to be the head distiller at his new distillery in Lynchburg. Green's sons and grandsons worked for Jack Daniel later on, and even after 150 years, the distillery has always had at least one of Green's descendants working there. Fawn Weaver was fascinated by the 2015 New York Times story on the relationship between the Greens and Jack Daniel's, and is now devoting her life to researching that history and cementing Nearest Green's role in American history with, among many other things, a Tennessee whiskey that bears his name. We'll discuss the story of America's first African-American master distiller on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Scotch Whisky exports rose during the first half of 2017, but the statistics show some areas for concern. U.S. craft distilling is now a $3 billion annual business and growing, and a Swiss hotel has given a Chinese tourist a full refund after the $10,000 dram of whisky he bought there in August turned out to be a fake.

1hr 11mins

6 Nov 2017

Rank #16

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

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!

43mins

4 Jun 2017

Rank #17

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WhiskyCast Episode 493: August 22, 2014

This week, we'll wrap up our conversation with Bourbon Hall of Fame member Chuck Cowdery, author of the new book "Bourbon: Strange" and get his views on more of the controversies facing the whisky industry. Diageo broke ground this week for the new Bulleit Bourbon distillery in Kentucky, and Chuck has some harsh words for the way Diageo and its predecessors have handled American whiskey in the past. He's also upset with what he and other critics see as lax oversight by federal regulators on whisky labeling, and doesn't hesitate to name names in Part 2 of our WhiskyCast In-Depth interview. In the news, we'll hear more from Tom Bulleit on the groundbreaking for the new Bulleit distillery and Cara Laing updates us on upcoming new whiskies from Douglas Laing & Co. Finally, we'll talk about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the new Whiskey Ice Challenge in honor of Heaven Hill's Parker Beam, and Parker's wife Linda passed along a message to everyone supporting the fight against ALS.

35mins

23 Aug 2014

Rank #18

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WhiskyCast Episode 446: October 5, 2013

Baker Beam comes from one of Kentucky's legendary Bourbon families. However, the grand-nephew of Jim Beam and cousin to Booker Noe, Fred Noe, and Parker Beam doesn't often get the spotlight. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he's the namesake for Baker's Bourbon from Beam's Small Batch Collection, and that makes him one of the few living distillers with a Bourbon that bears his name. He'll share his history in distilling and memories of working with Booker Noe on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, the U.S. government shutdown is affecting whisky makers, but plenty of new whiskies beat Washington's budget clock in time to hit the market this week.

35mins

6 Oct 2013

Rank #19

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I Spy a Bourbon (WhiskyCast Episode 650: July 16, 2017)

We've seen whisky and movie tie-ins before, but Old Forester's new Statesman Bourbon is a bit different. It's featured in the upcoming movie "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" with Jeff Bridges as the leader of Statesman, a secretive private espionage unit that just happens to make Bourbon in Kentucky and teams up with the London-based Kingsman to save the world. Old Forester President Campbell Brown and his team worked with director Matthew Vaughn during production, and Master Taster Jackie Zykan helped create Old Forester Statesman, which is featured in the film. Campbell Brown and Jackie Zykan join us for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth with Statesman's origin story and updates on this year's Birthday Bourbon and the new Old Forester Distillery under construction on Louisville's Whiskey Row. We'll also discuss whisky and Cognac with fifth-generation Cognac maker Cyril Camus, along with the challenges of selling Scotch Whisky and Bourbon in China. In the news, Billy Walker is back in the distillery business after a deal to buy Scotland's Glenallachie Distillery from Chivas Brothers, and that deal also means changes at the top of Inver House as managing director Graham Stevenson departs to join Billy Walker and former BenRiach veteran Trisha Savage as partners in the Glenallachie Consortium. Möet Hennessy is entering the American whiskey market for the first time with a deal to buy the Woodinville Whiskey Company in Washington, and we'll have an exclusive interview with Woodinville co-founder Orlin Sorenson. We'll also update the saga of Australia's Nant Distillery, look at new whiskies from around the world, and debunk a myth that it's illegal to take Scotch Whisky out of Scotland!

1hr 3mins

16 Jul 2017

Rank #20