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Remembering Dave Pickerell

He was nicknamed the “Johnny Appleseed of whiskey” from all his consulting work, direction in experimentation not only in the industry but also in his own work. He explored the concept of terroir in American whiskey and barrel finishing. Terroir is the set of all environmental factors that can affect a crop’s traits. Also creating the first solera-aged whiskey which is process of aging liquids by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over time. He has literally been all over the US from his 14 stint at Maker’s Mark where he was the vice president of operations and master distiller to be called upon to start a little whiskey company called Whistle Pig. In Ancram, New York directed operations and production plus master distiller of Hillrock Estate Distillery.

Not to mention being one of the master distillers to re-create George Washington’s recently found recipe for rye whiskey. Unfortunately Dave Pickerell passed last year on November 1st in San Francisco at 62 years young. It all started when he graduated from the University of Louisville as as a chemical engineer then on to working for a firm building distilleries, then working at one and becoming a master distiller.

His last major project was for a little know band called Metallica to produce their blended straight whiskey Blackened. To set this one apart, not only did he let it age in brandy barrels but also use sound waves to agitate and anger the spirit harnessed in those barrels. Each barrel was blasted with each members very own playlist giving each one it’s own signature. The best thing besides the label on the bottle is says “remastered by Dave Pickerell”. He has done so much and taught so many that is indelible mark will be missed.

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