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.
Whisky Lost and Found
37:301983 was a very bad year to be in the Scotch Whisky business. Sales had dried up in the face of changing consumer tastes and economic woes, and the industry was sitting on a "whisky loch" of millions of gallons of whisky no one wanted to buy. That led to the permanent or temporary closings of 14 distilleries, along with blending and bottling plants throughout Scotland. 40 years later, the industry has recovered - but have the lessons from 1983 been remembered? We'll talk with historians Charles Maclean and Dr. Nick Morgan about the circumstances that led to mass closings back then, and what's different today. In the news, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has slapped Scotch Whisky with a 10.1% increase in excise duty, and industry leaders are fighting back claiming broken promises. Kentucky state lawmakers are trying to get a bill passed in the next few days that would phase out the state's barrel tax on maturing whiskey, and David Beckham is reported to be stepping away from his bespoke whisky brand.
The State of Scotch
47:02Mark Kent left the UK's diplomatic service 14 months ago to become the new CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, and admits he didn't know much about Scotch when he started. With the industry in a state of flux over issues ranging from a potential marketing and advertising ban in Scotland to free trade and climate change, it's been a busy 14 months for Kent. He'll join us on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth to discuss the state of the Scotch Whisky industry and those key issues it faces. In the news, Islay distillers are scrambling to find new sources of peated malt after Diageo's Port Ellen Maltings stopped supplying outside customers. We'll also look at record U.S. spirits exports, even though some key markets are still recovering from the impact of trade tariffs, and on this week's Behind the Label, we'll look at the role enzymes play in mashing and why many distillers use a small amount of malted barley in their mashes.
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33:27Melissa Rift's career path is anything but traditional for a whisky maker. She started out as a family therapist before discovering her passion for Bourbon, and it's led her to become the new master taster for Old Forester. We'll explore her journey and her passion for whisky on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Jack Daniel's has been ordered to stop work on one of its new barrel houses after a neighbor sued over whisky fungus problems, while Kentucky distillers are hoping a bill pending in the state legislature could mean the end of the "barrel tax."
35:52There are literally hundreds of whisky clubs around the world, with more being formed all the time. This week on WhiskyCast, we'll hear from some club founders on how they started their clubs, along with advice for those thinking about forming a whisky club. In the news, Russia is planning "grey market" imports of some key whisky brands to evade trade sanctions, while Scotland's controversial bottle deposit program may be in trouble. We're also announcing the launch of the new WhiskyCast Community mobile app this week, too!
The Barrel Problem
28:29Bourbon and many other whiskies must be matured in new barrels by law, but distillers are finding a shortage of available barrels. Cooperages are keeping up with existing demand, but are facing their own supply chain issues with raw logs and can't keep up with distillery expansions across the industry. It all amounts to "the barrel problem," and we'll look at the issue on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Scottish government officials want public comments on whether the sale of peat should be banned, including the whisky industry's use of peat for malting barley. There's a scandal in Oregon, where state liquor board officials diverted bottles of rare Bourbon for their own use, and two veteran distillers join Whisky Magazine's Hall of Fame.
42:51Last month's raid on the Justins' House of Bourbon stores in Kentucky brought a multi-state and federal investigation into the spotlight. Now, authorities in the District of Columbia and at least two other states are investigating potential violations of interstate shipping laws, according to a report this week in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Herald-Leader's Janet Patton broke the story and joins us this week on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, distilled spirits sales outpaced beer for the first time during 2022, while Scotch Whisky exports set a new record.
A Milestone for The Dead Rabbit
49:15It's hard to believe, but the iconic New York City pub The Dead Rabbit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. In that time, it's built a reputation as one of the world's best cocktail bars. We'll talk with co-founder and managing partner Jack McGarry about the first ten years and what the future holds for The Dead Rabbit - including expansion to Austin, New Orleans, and other cities. On Your Voice, listeners like you tell us what makes a pub great, and in our Behind the Label segment, we'll answer a question about the difference between a peaty whisky and a smoky one.
49:11Distillers like to claim the "authentic" label for their whiskies, but how does one define "authenticity" in whisky? Is a "grain to glass" whisky more authentic than one that's mass-produced? Stanford business professor Glenn Carroll and Tulane business professor Cameron Verhaal teamed up to study just what whisky drinkers consider to be authentic, and they join us on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth to discuss their findings. In the news, Irish Whiskey tourism rebounded strongly during 2022 with a 425% gain over the pandemic-affected year of 2021. Diageo shares took a plunge on softness in U.S. Scotch Whisky sales, and a small North Carolina distillery hopes to send barrels of whiskey where no barrels have gone before.
A Big Victory for Small Distillers
35:44This week's episode comes from the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, British Columbia...where a small Vancouver distillery shocked the Canadian whisky world the other night. Sons of Vancouver won Canadian Whisky of the Year honors at the Canadian Whisky Awards with their "Palm Trees and a Tropical Breeze" rye whisky. It was the highest-scoring whisky in the competition, and it wasn't even close. We'll talk with the distillery's Jenna Diubaldo, James Lester, and Max Smith on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth, along with Canadian Whisky Awards founder and chairman Davin de Kergommeaux. In the news, an explosion rocked Alberta Distillers in Calgary this week, while a long-running legal saga has come to an end in Vancouver.
Sarah Burgess Joins The Lakes Distillery
35:08Sarah Burgess has held a lot of different positions during her 25-plus years in the whisky industry, from serving as a seasonal tour guide to running three different distilleries and being a whisky maker for The Macallan. Now, she's taking on a new challenge as the lead whisky maker for The Lakes Distillery in England. We'll talk with Sarah on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, a Scottish government consultation on alcohol sales and marketing has the Scotch Whisky industry crying foul, while Irish Whiskey exports set a new record during 2022.