Tribute – Dave Pickerell

Dave Pickerell was to whiskey what Michelangelo was to ceilings… an absolute master of distilling spirits.

Dave Pickerell passed away? The man I’d just interviewed days before, gone?

Can’t be, I hope… but it’s true.

Condolences flood the newswires, top brand distillery moguls, humble whiskey artisans, fans of Dave’s famous brand associations – rock stars too – share heartfelt grief while I’m struggling to find appropriate words; Dave’s life and times feature for Whisky Magazine suddenly becomes an obituary.

The just-released Metallica Blackened whiskey, every bottle featuring Dave’s signature, sits on my desk.

“The Metallica family is stunned and in disbelief at the loss of our friend and partner, Dave Pickerell. He was not only a mentor and friend, we considered him a member of Metallica. We learned so much from Dave in the all too brief time we had together. But more than anything, Dave was our good friend and we will miss him tremendously.”

Proclaimed the Johnny Appleseed of American whiskey by one magazine, his name alone made him an international celebrity, sought out to autograph bottles, barrels, even restaurant napkins… Dave’s  likes will never been seen again.

“There’s a difference between a distillery and a whiskey factory, and I work in a distillery.” – Dave Pickerell.

Woodford Reserve – Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve
Double Oaked 

Proof: 90.4
ABV: 45.2%
Style: Bourbon
State: KY 
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 9.1

Nose: Sweet up front. Candied almonds, coated in hard sugar, caramel toffee chews, Dutch honey syrup wafer and milky coffee.Oak takes hold with tannins and spices.

Palate: More fruit, overpowering the oak. Apples, poached pears and runny honey. Tarte tatin – that caramalized sugar edge. Nutmeg and cinnamon.

Finish: Rich with vanilla cream and spice. Morish.

Comments: A liquid apple pie, just ask for more.

Sam Coyne – 8.4

Nose: Swing back a few months, untangle the lights and put that Christmas tree back up. Sweet, spices; nutmeg, cinnamon and oak. Vanilla, caramel and a touch of honey.

Palate: Stewed raisins and sultanas with honey up-front. Oak spice grabs you by the shoulders and shakes. 

Finish: Rich, the festive spices return.

Comments: Good, straight forward Bourbon, that surprises more than a little. Is there anything not to like about this one?

William Larue Weller – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof

William Larue Weller 
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof 

Proof: 128.2
ABV: 64.1%
Style: Bourbon
State: KY
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 8.5

Nose: A huge yet gentle nose centering on caramel chews, fresh baked cookies and spiced honey cashew nuts. Butterscotch fondant and wood.

Palate: Gentle and smooth. Plenty of  sweet caramel notes. Dried orange and vanilla ice cream. Hints of fresh figs and cherries too.

Finish: A little short but full of sweetness and a little saline minerality in there too.

Comments: A great, enjoyable Bourbon. To be sipped and savored with friends.

Sam Coyne – 8.0

Nose: Really sweet. Toffee, fudge and milk chocolate cookies. Earthy cereal notes and finally a little oak spice at the end.

Palate: More of the caramel, but this time it covers plum fruits and figs. There’s a biscuity edge too and hints of peppered rye-like spice. 

Finish: Middling, but sweet before ending up with earthy cereals. 

Comments: Very nice, but quite reserved and nothing too punchy. A rounded number that has its place on everyone’s shelf. 

Stonecutter Spirits – Heritage Cake Whiskey

Stonecutter Spirits
Heritage Cask Whiskey 
Stonecutter Spirits

Proof: 90
ABV: 45.0%
Style: Single Malt
State: VT
Price: $50-$99.99

Rob Allanson – 8.4

Nose: Gentle but all these tropical fruits emerge, papaya, mango and dried pineapple. Grain comes through, malt and raisin bread.

Palate: Huge sweetness and then those fruits come through. Gentle and delicate. A wood grip, coconut ice cream and caramel sauce.

Finish: All that fruit – nice and long, Coconut ice cream and gentle spicy notes at the end.

Comments: A delicate and gentle whiskey, one to savour. Takes its time to reveal its delights, but well worth it.

Sam Coyne – 7.8

Nose: Vanilla up-front, before lashings of flambé fruit. A little acetone and those fruit-salad chews. Apricots and cherries. Yum.

Palate: Big ol’ spices welcome you in, we’re talking cinnamon and nutmeg especially. More of those sweeties in the background and a slightly tannic hint. A slightly oily mouthfeel.

Finish: More and more of the chews, but becomes cleansing with a herbal, menthol finish.

Comments: A little surprising, but might not appeal to the purists. 

Sons of Liberty – Bourbon Whiskey

Sons of Liberty 
Bourbon Whiskey 
Sons of Liberty Spirit Company

Proof: 92
ABV: 46.0%
Style: Bourbon
State: RI
Price: $25-$49.99

Rob Allanson – 8.5

Nose: A hot minerality at first, then shelves of old books, dusty and sweet mold. Fruit, damsons and plums. A little mac and cheese.

Palate: A sweet and sour effect, mandarin slices and a lemon citrus edge. Grilled chop with cinnamon and apple sauce. Gentle oak grip.

Finish: Sweet and juicy and then at the end the oak makes itself known.

Comments: Has a complex nose, a little dialled back on the palate, and then what a finish. A rollercoaster of a whiskey.

Sam Coyne – 8.5

Nose: Lots of cereal to begin. Oats, malt and spice. Ripe plums and a banana hint. 

Palate: Banana skins, before the warmth of oak grips. You get a lashing of vanilla before something faintly smoky. Cereals make their presence felt.

Finish: Sweeter, but its more caramel than fruit.Intriguingly smoky. 

Comments: Pretty good fun as it dives around in different directions. Satisfying enough to be your staple, while quirky enough to bring out on special occasions.