Distiller’s Friday Roundup – June 7th, 2019By Mikael Mossberg
This week brought news of some interesting new releases. Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye is hitting shelves. Clear Creek debuted its first new spirit in close to a decade. Balcones unveiled a truly Texan whiskey. The Macallan has a new single malt, and Tyrconnell introduced a new 16 year whiskey to the US. Reporting from The Guardian put a spotlight on the effect that climate change is having on the Scotch industry, and Metallica announced the new master distiller for Blackened Whiskey.
2018 Summer Drought Forced Halt in Scotch Whisky Production
As communities across the globe are increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change, a new victim has emerged: Scotch whisky. Last summer, a blistering heatwave descended on Scotland. Along with very little rainfall, water levels in springs and rivers fell so low that in the Highlands many whisky makers were forced to shut down production for up to a month. According to reporting by The Guardian, the river Spey dropped to 97% lower than its normal minimum level last year.
“We lost the whole of September,” says Callum Fraser of Glenfarclas. Unlike many distilleries who take their water from the river Spey, Glenfarclas has its own private supply. “It’s a natural spring, and it was dry,” says Fraser. Hinting that many other distilleries faced similar problems, he added, “We weren’t the only one, just the most vocal.”
The River Spey
Production at Glenfarclas fell by up to 300,000 liters, and production at Edradour distillery farther to the south was also halted. Edradour owner Andrew Symington says that the neighboring river runs visibly lower each year. The brand now plans to install cooling towers to mitigate the effect of lack of water that is sure to come in the future.
Climate scientists fear that these conditions may not be unusual in the coming years. Estimates show that if human emissions continue to increase, similar heatwaves may happen every other year by 2050.
“The water table hasn’t recovered yet, so it’ll be this year we see the full effect,” says Fraser. “We’ve still not had real rain yet.”
Metallica Announces Rob Dietrich As New Distiller for Blackened Whiskey
Last November, famed distiller Dave Pickerell passed away suddenly, creating a huge void in the spirits industry. An industry veteran, he worked as the master distiller at Maker’s Mark before moving on to consult for numerous brands such as WhistlePig, Hillrock Estate, and Corsair. Most recently, he worked with Metallica to develop Blackened Whiskey.
Now, eight months after Dave’s passing, Metallica has announced who will take the reins as Blackened’s new master distiller: Stranahan’s own Rob Dietrich. Rob learned the craft of distilling from Stranahan’s co-founder Jess Graber. With a background in the music industry as well as the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, Rob can now add “Metallica’s Master Distiller” to his already diverse resume.
Introducing Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye
On the heels of Basil Hayden’s Rye, Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye and Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye comes a new limited edition rye. Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye is a blend of two rye whiskeys finished with Black Strap Rum. The two whiskeys in the blend are an eight-year-old Kentucky Straight Rye and a four-year-old Canadian Rye.
“With the release of Caribbean Reserve Rye, we wanted to give our fans a fun whiskey expression that you can bring out and share during warmer weather occasions,” says Rob Mason, the vice president of whiskey marketing at Beam Suntory.
Bottled at 40% ABV, Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye is available across the United States for a limited time. The SRP is $44.99 per 750ml bottle.
Balcones Debuts High Plains TX Single Malt
Balcones High Plains Texas Single Malt is a truly Texan product. The whisky is a result of a partnership between Waco, TX based Balcones and Blacklands Malt, the first Texas malthouse. Back in 2012, Blacklands and Texas A&M began researching, brewing and distilling grains that could grow in Texas. Four years after research began, Blacklands Malt provided the first Texas-grown harvest considered suitable for malting barley. Balcones was one of the first brands to purchase the harvest and to create a mash with it. The result is Balcones High Plains Texas Single Malt.
The whisky aged for two years and becomes officially available on June 15th, 2019. It will be exclusively available at the Balcones distillery in Waco, TX for $80.
Macallan Unveils The Macallan Estate Single Malt
A new addition to The Macallan range, The Macallan Estate Single Malt is made using barley grown at the brand’s Easter Elchies estate. That particular crop of barley is distilled only once a year and normally limited to the brand’s most exclusive malts.
“Our Easter Elchies estate lies within the legendary Speyside region of Scotland, a place of timeless natural beauty, and a place that we are proud to call home,” says Sarah Burgess, whisky maker for The Macallan.
Bottled at 43% ABV, it will be available at select retailers in July with a suggested price of £195 (~$247 USD) per bottle.
Clear Creek Adds New Product In Nearly A Decade
Based in Hood River, Oregon, Clear Creek Distillery is a veteran of the American craft distilling industry. Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, the brand is releasing a completely new product. Clear Creek Vodka, which is also the brand’s first vodka, is 100% fruit-based. It is fermented and distilled from apples grown in the Pacific Northwest and cut to 40% ABV using glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood in Oregon.
“The addition of Clear Creek Vodka to our portfolio falls in line with our philosophy of supporting local agriculture and approaching the distilling landscape as evolution and not revolution,” said Jeanine Racht, Development & Marketing Manager, Clear Creek Distillery.
Clear Creek Vodka will initially only be available in Oregon, but will become available in other markets during summer 2019. It carries a suggested price of $29.95 per 750ml bottle.
Tyrconnell Introduces 16 Year Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish
Tyrconnell 16 Year Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish is a new limited edition single malt from the Irish whiskey brand. It spent 16 years in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels then finished in wine casks from the Andalucia region of Spain. The wine casks were initially seasoned with oloroso sherry, followed by moscatel wine.
Tyrconnell 16 Year Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish is bottled at 46% ABV and has a suggested price of $100 per 750ml bottle. It is currently available in six countries, with a planned United States debut in June 2019.
On the hunt for Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye, Tyrconnell 16 Year Oloroso & Moscatel Cask Finish, or The Macallan Estate? Look no further.