Metallica and David Pickerell Releasing Blackened American Whiskey This Month

Blackened American Whiskey.

Legendary rock band Metallica has teamed up with WhistlePig Whiskey Master Distiller Dave Pickerell to create Blackened American Whiskey: a blend finished in black brandy casks.

Metallica gave Pickerell full authority over which barrels went into their final bottling. He hand-selected a variety of straight bourbons, ryes, and whiskeys from across the country, then finished the blend in black brandy casks.

The process didn’t stop there. The partnership, under the moniker Sweet Amber Distilling Co., worked in collaboration with Meyer Sound to enhance the aging process with a playlist. 

As a student and then a Professor of Chemistry at West Point, Pickerell had plenty of experience with sound waves. The historic academy is home to the world’s largest church organ, and when the lowest note would reverberate through the halls, “the whole building would tremble, it would really shake your guts,” Pickerell says. He proposed running a similar low-frequency sound through this new whiskey—and Metallica loved it. 

They fittingly call this final step in the finishing process “Black Noise.” Using Black Noise—a patent pending process created with Meyer Sound specifically for this project—the band blasted a playlist of their own songs over the barrels containing Pickerell’s blended whiskey. According to Pickerell, the sonic enhancement process shapes the flavor of the whiskey using the low, vibrating frequency of the sound waves. 

The team is clear about the fact that Black Noise does not replace the normal aging process of the whiskey. “We’re not trying to cheat time,” says Pickerell, “This just kicks the finishing process up a notch. The sonic enhancements shake the whiskey molecules to their core. At a low-enough frequency, flavor elements start to work their way out of the barrels and into the blend.”

“This is a whiskey that has our musical stamp. It’s something the world has not experienced before, and gives one the opportunity to truly ‘taste the music,’” adds Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett.

Sweet Amber Distilling Co. sourced the whiskey for this first release, but plans to open a distillery and brand experience in the Bay Area in 2019.

Drinkers wanting to jam out just like the whiskey did are in for a treat: every batch of Blackened will come with an accompanying playlist at, and on major streaming platforms. 

Blackened is scheduled to launch this September, in time for Metallica’s Fall North American tour. It will be rolled out in California, Wisconsin, New York, and Florida by September 29 for a suggested retail price of $43.

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.