Sweet Amber Distilling Co.
ABV: 45 percent
About the whiskey:
This is without a doubt the most uniquely made whiskey I’ve ever had, so to begin, here’s an explanation of how it’s made.
First, Blackened Whiskey is a marriage between the finest bourbons and ryes, hand selected by the late master distiller Dave Pickerell (who unfortunately passed away this summer). The whiskey is then rested in a black brandy cask, which allows it to pick up some of the unique flavors left in the barrel.
Now, here is where it gets crazy. After the whiskey has rested in the brandy casks, it’s jolted back to life by Metallica. That’s right, the whiskey is played some music. A proprietary sonic enhancement system called Black Noise is used, which pummels the whiskey with sound, causing it to seep deeper into the barrel where it picks up additional wood notes.
Pickerell, who was also a chemical engineer and a professor of chemistry at West Point, would hear this organ being played on campus, which was incidentally the world’s largest organ. When the lowest note was played, “the whole building would tremble. It would really shake your guts,” Pickerell said.
When he was hired by Metallica and Sweet Amber Distilling Co. to make a whiskey, he remembered the idea of this low frequency sound and proposed it to them. The partnership and idea immediately clicked and Blackened Whiskey was born.
The members of Metallica put together playlists that would be unique to each batch of whiskey while Meyer Sound and Sweet Amber Distilling Co. devised a process to envelop the barrels in music. Inside the barrels, the liquid is bathed in low hertz sound waves so intense that they strengthen the molecular interaction and ultimately the finish of the whiskey.
“We’re not trying to cheat time,” said Pickerell. “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.”
“Blackened [Whiskey] resonated with every facet of the brand—the collaboration, rock and roll, the charred barrels, Black Noise, and black brandy casks,” says the Sweet Amber Distilling Co. creative director, Jimmy North. “It just worked on all levels.”
One of the coolest aspects is the accompanying playlist from Metallica that comes with every batch. Just find your batch number, visit blackenedwhiskey.com, and listen to the same songs that pummeled the whiskey you’re currently enjoying. How unique is that?
“This is a whiskey that has our musical stamp,” said Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. “It’s something the world has not experienced before and gives one the opportunity to truly ‘taste the music.’”
The setup to try this whiskey is almost as important as the tasting itself. I get my noise canceling headphones, set my Spotify to play batch 081 as loud as my ears can take, wait until it’s dark and quiet on my patio, and light up a Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum Medio-Tiempo.
Alright. I’m ready. Let’s rock ’n’ roll.
I’ve never really given much thought to pairing music with cigars or alcohol, but after this experience, I certainly will. It was such a strangely cool experience to listen to the very same music that was blasting this whiskey while drinking the whiskey.
It’s smooth and oaky and not at all intense like you might expect (after all, this whiskey was listening to Metallica nonstop). Flavor notes include honey, cloves, cinnamon, and even a bit of mint. The finish is long and smooth and features a little bit of lingering creaminess.
Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum Medio-Tiempo. This cigar, made with a rare medio-tiempo Habano wrapper, is a perfect complement to the music and whiskey. It’s a medium-bodied cigar and features spice and subtle sweet flavors of chocolate and caramel. It doesn’t overpower the whiskey, rather the spices in both marry to create some truly wonderful flavors and aromas. Full review here.
Honestly, after my initial notes, I forgot to write anything more—I got so lost in the experience. So, all I have left to say is try it. Try it now.
For more info and where to find the whiskey, visit blackenedwhiskey.com.