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Blackened X Willett Straight Rye Whiskey: The First Installment

Blackened, the brand associated with legendary music band Metallica is collaborating with Kentucky distillery Willett for the ‘Master of Whiskey Series’. The first edition in the series is the Blackened X Willett Straight Rye Whiskey. The product series is the core collaboration of Blackened American Whiskey and Metallica. The expression is masterpieces of Blackened’s Master Distiller, Rob Dietrich, and Willett Distillery’s Master Distiller, Drew Kulsveen.

 The first edition Blackened x Willett Straight Rye Whiskey uses a base of low rye and high rye whiskey recipes that were hand-picked by Rob Dietrich and Willett Distillery’s Master Distiller, Drew Kulsveen, from the Willett Family Estate Reserve Selection. The two tasted and experimented with several whiskeys before landing on the recipes that would create the perfect flavor profile.

The high rye whiskey offers spicier, more robust notes like fresh-cut hay and walnut, while the low rye features a slightly sweeter, earthier taste, such as cinnamon, mint, and honey. After the rye whiskeys are combined, they are finished in Madeira casks for up to 14 weeks. During that time, the whiskey undergoes the proprietary “BLACK NOISE” sonic enhancement process. The process uses the low hertz frequencies from Metallica’s music to vibrate the barrels, causing a greater interaction between the whiskey and the wood, forcing the liquid further into the barrel and extracting more flavor and color. The whiskey is aged for an average of 6.5 years in white American oak casks to achieve the complex perfection of the Blackened whiskey. 

 “We couldn’t think of a more impactful first release for the series than a collaboration with Willett Distillery. I wanted the first expression in the series to be rye, and as a huge fan of Willett and everything they produce, I felt it was the obvious first choice. I couldn’t be more honored to work with Drew and the great team at Willett Distillery. Our connections to Dave brought everything full circle, and when I was working with Drew and the Kulsveens, it was almost like being welcomed back. I’m extremely excited by what we’ve accomplished, and I hope our fans and the whiskey enthusiasts of the world will enjoy this whiskey as much as Drew and I have!,”

said Master Distiller & Blender Rob Dietrich – BLACKENED

 “Frankly, I have had a good time collaborating with Rob on this project. We realized early on that we both shared a vision for the flavor we hoped to achieve in the blend and we are eager to share what we have come up with,”

MasterDistiller Drew Kulsveen – Willett Distillery

The original idea with Blackened was to create something new, exciting, and unique that connected with both our fans and whiskey enthusiasts — something that stood on its own and was hopefully respected. The next step was to expand on Blackened’s foundation, to push the possibilities of the marriage of music and whiskey even further. When we visited Willett Distillery in 2019 and saw the passion and craftsmanship that goes into every drop they produce, we knew we had found kindred spirits,”

said Metallica Co-founder and Drummer, Lars Ulrich said.

Tasting Notes

  • AROMA: Sweet-simmered rhubarb and brown sugar butter, corn husk, vanilla bean, cigar box, and ripe fig.
  • PALATE: Symmetry of buttery caramel & earthy mint on the palate, with a degree of raspberry sweetness from the Madeira cask-finish, balancing with the rustic notes of fresh-cut hay from the high rye.
  • FINISH: White pepper, cinnamon butter & walnut finish.
  • BOTTLED AT: 54.8% ABV/ 109.6 Proof

Blackened x Willett Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Madeira Casks is available in limited quantities for RRP US$139.99.

The Collaboration Story: Blackened X Metallic X Kulsveen

The Blackened X Kulsveens collaboration story begins as a friendship between legendary master distiller, Dave Pickerell, and the Kulsveen family. The late Dave Pickerell not only helped to build the Blackened brand –  known for helping dozen of craft whiskey entrepreneurs during his time, but he also consulted well with Willett and the Kulsveen family. When Blackened was looking for a location to shoot its brand video, the Kulsveen graciously lent their distillery. It was then that Dave introduced the Blackened team to the Kulsveen, setting the foundation for this collaboration. The distillery and master recipes are now overseen by former Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey whiskey-making master Rob Dietrich.

Metallica is one of the most influential rock bands of all time. With massive success spanning over decades, they continue to break the mold — their way. As Co-Founders of BLACKENED, the band has led the brand’s charge into the spirits industry.

According to the Blackened website

Metallica met the Kulsveen family and the distillery team when the band was in Louisville for its WorldWired tour. The band received a first-hand look at Willett’s production, christened the distillery’s new restaurant with a delectable meal, and bonded with the Kulsveen over fine cigars. The rest is friendship turned into a partnership for the Master of Whiskey series.

The Metallica playlist to commemorate the BLACKENED x Willett Kentucky Straight Rye was selected by both Rob Dietrich and Drew Kulsveen and sequenced by Metallica co-founder and drummer, Lars Ulrich.

  1. For Whom The Bell Tolls
  2. Master of Puppets
  3. King Nothing
  4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  5. Dyers Eve 
  6. Broken, Beat & Scarred
  7. The Thing That Should Not Be(Remastered)
  8. Atlas, Rise!
  9. Of Wolf and Man
  10. One 
  11. Enter Sandman

The crafted, fiery, and complex whiskey collaboration along with the metallic playlist has arrived. Enjoy the unconventional and promising first edition Blackened X Willett Straight Rye Whiskey in the Master of Whiskey series with the music.

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