Blackened x Willett Kentucky Straight Rye Madeira Finish Masters of Whiskey Series 54.8% 75cl
Originally launched in 2018 as a collaboration between Metallica and Master Distiller and blender Dave Pickerell, who was considered one of the founding fathers of modern Bourbon, having spent many years at Maker's Mark. Sadly Dave died shortly after the launch at the age of 62, to be replaced with Rob Dietrich.
The 'standard' Blackened whiskey is a blending of spirits sourced from various distilleries that are married in 'black brandy' barrels - a term coined by Pickerell which are actually Spanish brandy casks. To increase the motion of the whiskey inside the barrels, increasing the interaction between spirit and wood, the barrels are subject to a process dubbed 'Black Noise' - basically Metallica and other metal songs are played at a low frequency to the barrels with the sound waves generating motion.
However, this particular bottling is the first of a new series dubbed 'Masters of Whiskey' in which Blackened will pair with individual distilleries to produce a limited number of bottlings. Drew Kulsveen, Master Distiller at Willett, worked with Dietrich to select a number of high-rye and low-rye receipe casks with an average age of 6.5 years - the oldest being 8 years old. The whiskies were then married in Madeira casks for 14 weeks, while being subjected to the Black Noise process.
The Madeira finish is clear and apparent, particularly on the nose, with a distinct sweet fruitiness coming through, offering waves of orange oils and sultanas. On the palate a spicier edge arrives at the foreground, with hints of charred brown bread, tobacco leaves and baked figs. It's a truly stunning whiskey, and as a massive fan of Metallica I'm so pleased that the fact it's a 'celebrity' release doesn't get in the way of what really is a great liquid.
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