Bourbon Is Booming

The whiskey industry in Kentucky’s is booming. Production is way up, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association, it is over 1.7 million barrels for only the second time since 1968. There are currently almost two barrels of aging bourbon per person in the state an inventory level higher than it has been in 46 years. According to the KDA, distillers are benefitting from new laws that allow visitors to ship souvenir bottles across state lines, and increases in U.S. whiskeys popularity abroad, with places such as China, India, and Europe consuming more than ever before.

But there’s a problem, the trade war brewing between the US and various other countries may make selling all that hooch tricky.

“If you take the concern about the trade war off the table, and barring any other unforeseen obstacles, we’re on an incredible trajectory to break historical records in the next few years,” according to KDA president Eric Gregory.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) said in its annual report that the state’s distillers are increasingly concerned about the impact of targeted retaliatory tariffs against the U.S, raising the cost of U.S. bourbon 25% in the EU, and Mexico, as well as 10% in Canada.

Metallica Takes Their Whiskey Out Of The Jar

The new Metallica branded whiskey Blackened, is a blend of Bourbon, rye, and straight whiskey created by master distiller and blender Dave Pickerell, well known for his work at Maker’s Mark.

Though probably delicious even before Metallica gets its sound into it, the most interesting part of the whiskey is exactly that. According to Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett “This is a whiskey that has our musical stamp, it’s something the world has not experienced before and gives one the opportunity to truly ‘taste the music.’”

The whiskey gains “the music” by exposing it to “Black Noise”, a “sonic-enhancement” process that uses Metallica’s music to help “shape the flavor” of the whiskey. The whiskey is aged by traditional means before being exposed to the power of metal, and the blackening process serves to enhance the flavors by vibrating the barrels and their contents on a molecular level releasing the deeper flavors from the wood and infusing the whiskey more deeply.

The idea behind Black Noise came from time Pickerell spent at West Point, home to the world’s largest church organ. When it hit its lowest note, “the whole building would tremble, it would really shake your guts,” according to Pickerell. He suggested that using these super low-wave frequencies could affect and improve the whiskey aging process. Enter Metallica, a band so appreciative of low bass filled tones they had Meyer Sound build custom subwoofer arrays that allowed them to pump up the low register for their concerts. The subwoofer hit the notes and frequencies Pickerell was looking for, and Blackened was ready to rock!

The brand claims that the result of all that rock is the honey-amber hued spirit has notes of “burnt caramel, oak and honey” on the nose and “moderate hints of spice upon first sip.” The taste includes “notes of honey, cinnamon, allspice, clove and mint”, finishing smoothly with flavors of “butterscotch, maple, and honey” We hope to update this article with verification of that claim once we get a chance to try it for ourselves.

Blackened is planning to be rolled out in limited markets by September 29, matching up with dates for Metallica’s fall North American tour.

California Bars To Close At 4AM?

California Senate Bill 905 was passed on Thursday, August 30th by the state Senate 28 to 8, and is now heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval. If signed, the legislation will launch a five-year test program that will allow nine cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs) to push last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. At least 15 other states across the U.S. currently allow alcohol sales past 2 a.m.

The author of the bill, State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, believes that by extending hours, businesses could benefit from extra revenue, and that mean more taxes would be paid into the coffers of the cities and the state on the whole. He said:

“It is a really overdue bill, California right now has a one-size-fits-all approach to last call where every bar, and nightclub, and restaurant in the state has to stop serving at 2 a.m., whether you’re in downtown LA or in a rural area. It makes sense to give our local communities some flexibility.” 

The bill provides a great level of flexibility, each city has the final say on which factors will affect the closing times.

Also, the program ends after five years if lawmakers choose not to extend it.  The Governor has until September 30 to sign the bill which won’t go into effect until January 2021. Only then will bars in the trial cities be allowed to begin applying for extended licenses.

Several members of the Senate are strongly opposed to the bill, including San Diego Senator Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher. She said in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune:

“People are there drinking longer and that’s cause for concern,” she said “I understand San Francisco wants it, Los Angeles wants it. But we gotta monitor it closely. I’m looking for a net positive.”

What do you think? Do the benefits of the extension outweigh the risks? 

Basil Hayden Dark Rye

A strong foundation of Kentucky Rye, blended with hints of smooth Canadian Rye, and finished with a bit of sweet California Port create a very interesting flavor profile in this complex offering from Basil Hayden’s.

The nose on this whiskey is subtle and sweet, with oak undertones. Once tasted the profile is very different, most of the oakiness falls away leaving fruity sweetness, and a mellow spice that carries though to a very mellow, and lasting decidedly rye finish. I love the Basil Hayden brand but this offering seems to fall a bit short. My closing opinion is that all in all this whiskey is good, and has huge potential for mixing and cocktailing, but isn’t really strong enough to stand on it’s own.

Available almost everywhere, and priced around $45, this whiskey is worth looking at if you want to change up your manhattans and old fashion game, but not worth adding to your selection of sippers.

Jameson Caskmates

Sometimes the best creations come through cooperation. Apparently Irish whiskey is no exception. The result of cooperation with craft breweries in Ireland, Jameson has created these Caskmates editions. In both the IPA and Stout editions the process starts by aging Jameson in the traditional barrels, which are then sent to the brewery where they are used to create an aged beers. After some time the flavor exchange creates better beer, and leaves the barrel with hints of the flavors therein. These barrels are shipped back to Jameson, who then refills them with Jameson and leaves them to rest for a finishing period. The results are more flavorful and complex, both are delicious and very worth trying.

IPA Edition –

A softer, more gentle version of Jameson. The notes in the nose, are very floral and crisp, a very fall friendly flavor, almost you could expect like walking though an apple orchard. The taste is more citrus forward with a little bite and spice on the finish that doesn’t linger nearly long enough.

Stout Edition –

This is a bigger more full flavored Jameson, The nose is rich and full of sugary, chocolate and caramel aroma. This leads into an equal rich taste. The first sips wrap the tongue in smooth sweet notes of oak and cocoa. This was my favorite of the 2 caskmates editions, mostly due to its complexity, sweetness, and finish.

Both are fairly readily available, and are priced in the $32-$37 price range. Highly recommended for any liquor shelf, it allows for a bit more adventure, experimentation, and conversation than the Jameson you usually buy.