Whiskey Review: Blackened Cask Strength Volume 01

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

In general, I turn my nose up at celebrity spirits. I’ll just admit my bias here. And I’ll admit that this is the attitude of pretty much everyone I know who works in or with spirits in any capacity. And, unfortunately, there’s a certain judgement on anyone who orders these spirits just because they’re a celebrity brand.

But Metallica is a great band.

Like, a great band. 

And then this is more than just a celebrity putting their name to something – the band’s own music is used for the “black noise process” of Blackened whiskey, using low hertz sound waves to create unique interactions between the whiskey and the wood barrel it’s housed in. The idea is that the vibrations of the sped-up whiskey pull more compounds from the wood. 

This idea is not wholly unique within the whiskey industry. Barrel aging is attributed to a transportation need being met – spirits crossing land and oceans needed to be held in the most convenient and efficient vessel as possible. It was a pleasant occurrence that the whiskey coming out of these barrels just tasted so much better, and thus became tradition, then law.

Some people have theorized further, however, that the actual ocean voyages themselves played a part in how a whiskey tasted. The atmospheric changes, in addition to the wilder movement of the barrels, may have pulled even more out of the barrels on ships than the ones sitting in rick houses. In this vein, Jefferson’s Ocean, made today, is “aged at sea” while other spirits, such as aquavit, use the technique sometimes as well. 

So a group of musicians being a co-founder of this spirit has more than just name appeal.

And the late master distiller Dave Pickerell, of Maker’s Mark fame, was part of making this whiskey, so you know it’s going to be good.

And so getting into this product is interesting. In addition to the collaboration with Pickerell, Rob Dietrich, the current master distiller and blender of Sweet Amber Distilling Company (the distiller for this label) come from Stranahan’s – another personal favorite of mine. Thus, we’ve got some serious whiskey muscle behind this bottling.

What we have here is Blackened Cask Strength Volume 1, the first release of their limited edition cask strength series. The whiskey itself is a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys, which are married together and re-aged in brandy staves. It’s within the brandy staves that the black noise process is applied. 

I’m generally cautious of whiskey finished with brandy staves – I’ve had several that have a too-sticky-sweet flavor that I personally don’t care for. I really thought this worked, however. It could be any number of factors – the blend that went into the barrel, the heat of the cask strength, or the expert attention that went into this whiskey.

Then again, it could be that the black noise process brings a major impact. In any case, I’m very interested in future volumes of this expression.

Blackened Cask Strength Volume 01 review

We review Blackened Cask Strength Volume 01, a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys, which are married together and re-aged in brandy staves influenced by Metallica’s music. (image via Sweet Amber)

Tasting Notes: Blackened Cask Strength Volume 01

Vital Stats: a blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys, which are married together and re-aged in brandy staves; 122.85 proof, 61.43% ABV, 750mL, SRP $69.99

Appearance: Light tan, with just a touch of opacity. Only a handful of legs. 

Nose: Very candied, particularly creamy caramel and brown sugar ice cream cone at first. Juicy red fruit finishes up, even with a bit of tart cranberry. 

Palate: Soft texture, a little viscous. Peanut-y rich on the mid palate. A very pleasant bitterness on the end, with some floral notes coming through. A touch of chile spice accompanies. 

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