Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Sweet Amber Distilling Co. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Blackened Whiskey, the band Metallica’s collaboration with late master distiller Dave Pickerell, late last year released a limited edition cask strength version of their flagship whiskey. Originally launched in 2018, Blackened is a blend of American bourbons and ryes. Blackened 106 Cask Strength is bottled at 110.7 proof rather than the typical 90 proof of previous releases. The blend is aged eight years in black brandy casks. During this time it is given the special treatment of the distillery’s proprietary BlackNoise sonic infusion.
BlackNoise is the step in a finishing process that makes Blackened whiskey more than a random venture of the Metallica empire. It involves blasting each barrel with its very own Metallica playlist, each chosen and arranged by the band members themselves. According to the producer, “The low frequency sound waves force the whiskey to penetrate deeper into the barrel, extracting more caramel and honey flavors from the wood”. This process may seem a little out there at first listen, but there is some scientific support for it.
Before the first release Dave Pickerell made two initial batches of Blackened, one that had been subjected to the BlackNoise frequencies and one that had not. Samples were sent to a lab for comparison and the results were promising. “When he got the lab reports back, it was incredible the difference that the black noise had actually made to the whiskey. Every one of the nine tested markers, or flavor profiles, were enhanced in that barrel,” says Rob Dietrich, the brand’s current Master Distiller.
Though BlackNoise music is played at too low a frequency for the human ear to detect, each bottle of Blackened 106 cask strength comes with a scannable code to listen to the batches “S&M2” playlist. The limited edition collectible box features artwork by Squindo, an illustrator familiar to Metallica fans worldwide for having created the majority of their graphics over the years. Blackened 106 Cask Strength is available for $55 per 750ml bottle in limited retail establishments.
Tasting Notes: Blackened Whiskey Batch 106 Cask Strength
Vital Stats: 110.7 proof (55.35 ABV), Blend of various bourbons and ryes, matured eight years in black brandy casks to the musical accompaniment of low frequency Metallica S&M2.
Appearance: The color is on the lighter side of yellow gold.
Nose: There are mild earthy notes on the front end of dried grass, fennel and amber oil. Sweet molasses, brown sugar and bubblegum are present as well. All around a clean nose and balanced delivery of sweet and spicy.
Palate: The sweetness of the nose is moved directly to the front of the palate. This has the distinct flavor profiles of a soda fountain. Cotton candy and cream soda are forward with sarsaparilla. The finish is warm, peppery and pleasantly long.
For those who enjoy both bourbons and ryes Blackened 106 is the best of both worlds. It is closer to a bourbon with a rich chewy mouthfeel. There is a peppery rye finish and a lingering heat which is the only indication that this is of a higher than normal proof. This drinks like a much lower proof spirit and though the flavor profiles are a little chaotic but that’s somehow fitting for a whiskey aged with the cacophony of heavy metal.
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Faith Raspante is a freelance writer and bartender based in Portland, Oregon. A love of craft cocktails and creative mixology led Faith to discover the nuanced pleasure of tasting whiskey and other spirits. When she isn’t behind the bar or in front of a laptop she enjoys boating, home improvement...