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Rob Dietrich is a busy man. As Grasp Distiller & Blender of Blackened — the whiskey model co-founded by rock supergroup Metallica — he’s concerned in nearly each facet of the corporate’s sourcing, mixing, advertising, and even distribution. And whereas Blackened sources their distillate from different sources, its “Black Noise” growing older course of provides a further step that retains Dietrich and Metallica in fixed communication.
Dietrich stepped into his function after co-founder and famous distiller/blender Dave Pickerell’s loss of life in 2018. Since then, he’s helmed quite a few new tasks geared toward extra premium releases, together with the Masters of Whiskey collection. The primary launch beneath that banner was a collaboration with Willett, a straight rye completed in madeira casks. The second, soon-to-be-launched expression is a team-up with Angel’s Envy co-founder Wes Henderson: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey completed in white Port wine casks.
Drinkhacker sat down with Dietrich to debate his working relationship with Metallica, mixing triumphs and missteps, and whether or not sound waves can really impression a spirit’s growing older course of.
Notice: This interview has been calmly edited for readability.
Drinkhacker: Rob, I wished to speak just a little concerning the Masters of Whiskey collection. How do these come about? Are these collaborations coming out of your private relationships, or are you constructing new relationships to be able to facilitate the releases?
Rob Dietrich: Type of each! We’re sort of a small group so far as distillers and whiskey makers. And so I actually really feel like everyone knows one another from the whiskey circuit, all these completely different and fantastic whiskey occasions. All of us see one another there, however we’re at all times busy speaking about our whiskeys to the general public. So we don’t get a complete lot of interplay. That is the place we get to have some enjoyable. A few of these relationships are with folks I’ve identified. After which we take that friendship to the subsequent degree by way of the artwork of crafting whiskey,
Drinkhacker: It’s definitely a enjoyable group. And I can think about that you simply wish to be additive, not essentially aggressive or combative on a regular basis.
Rob Dietrich: That’s what I really like concerning the whiskey group. Everybody’s obtained their secrets and techniques: their mashbill or completely different recipe secrets and techniques and that form of factor. However for probably the most half, we actually are a group that helps the subsequent man up or pushes this man ahead. When the tide rises, all ships rise, it doesn’t matter what dimension. So I believe what’s thrilling about that’s, traditionally, if I bumped into some subject at my distillery right here in Denver the place I used to work, I’d name anyone up and so they say, “Oh yeah, I’ve obtained that half. I’ll run it proper over.” Or somebody calls me up and says, “Hey man, I’m having this hassle with pH, any concepts?” We actually do assist elevate one another up on this business,
Drinkhacker: Take me by way of a few of your regular workflow at Blackened.
Rob Dietrich: I’m at all times engaged on completely different improvements. I mess around with completely different profiles and various things. Usually I begin within the mornings to do my mixing, as a result of I do this earlier than I’ve espresso, earlier than I’ve something, so my palate is just not out of whack. After I’ve executed just a few blends, I typically will dig into extra of the manufacturing facet, managing every part from bottling schedules to sourcing glass.
I work very carefully with our director of operations. In case you’re doing cask ending, you might have to have the ability to procure barrels. You’re coping with barrel brokers, and there’s at all times one thing happening. After which after all there’s the advertising facet of it, getting to teach of us about how we make our whiskey, what the method is, and the place to seek out it. There’s a triangle: you might have gross sales, advertising, and operations. I’m just like the little dot proper in the midst of the triangle. And I’m continuously going to every nook.
Drinkhacker: What do you suppose may shock of us about the way you all function, particularly given that you simply’re a celebrity-backed movie star operation?
Rob Dietrich: It’s actually vital to work with an amazing facility. Proper now we don’t have our personal facility. We’re rising so, so quickly as a model, and there’s a clamoring to get our whiskey out within the worldwide market. We wish to do this responsibly, and we wish to do this rigorously. What was nice is that when Metallica began out to make a whiskey, it was vital for them that it stood by itself. That it wasn’t simply going to a bigger firm and slapping a celeb identify on it, but it surely was designed to be a whiskey that may be a contender within the whiskey world.
And that has confirmed itself, by successful awards by way of completely different competitions. So I believe that’s actually thrilling for us, and the extra folks hear about it, the extra they see it, the extra whiskey we now have to make.
Drinkhacker: How concerned are you in speaking with the band because the model continues to develop and develop?
Rob Dietrich: Pretty carefully! They’re genuinely not solely , however they’re concerned. There’s a real curiosity about how the method works. Getting their involvement with the Black Noise course of and with the ability to have the playlist and having the band put their fingerprints on the method was actually vital to them. They’re nice guys to work with. They’re very captivated with what they do, and it’s vital to me that I get to have the identical freedom simply as they method their artistry and their craft. As artists, they offer me the identical platform to have the ability to work from and have that very same sort of creativity. That’s actually the place the Masters of Whiskey collection was born from, from being allowed to have that creativity. Similar to musicians are collaborating with different musicians, we’re collaborating with different whiskey makers.
Drinkhacker: So far as the mixing goes, are you able to inform me about any latest failures? We speak concerning the wins, and a whole lot of the wins get bottled. However I’d like to get your perspective on one thing you tried or have been actually hopeful about that simply didn’t fairly work out.
Rob Dietrich: That’s an amazing query as a result of you may’t make an omelet when you don’t crack just a few eggs. I realized simply as a lot from errors as I do from the whiskey that wins. Throughout mixing, I’d begin out with an amazing base however then I add one thing I’m like, “Oh, that’s executed. That simply didn’t work.” Typically it takes just a little bit to get round a few of these hurdles. This taste profile is bugging me and I don’t need over-cask end one thing. I don’t wish to under-cask end one thing. For instance, in mixing, if the mix is just a little bit off, what will we do to regulate it? What if we adopted our protocol and one thing remains to be not fairly proper? So I’ve obtained to actually dissect right down to what whiskey we have to add to actually steadiness that taste again out. Typically an preliminary mix won’t not be nice. So I’ve obtained to repair that someway, and the way you do that’s with extra whiskey,
Drinkhacker: What are some issues that you possibly can see this model doing on an extended time horizon?
Rob Dietrich: I might completely like to do collaborations with different worldwide whiskeys and worldwide distillers. There are such a lot of phenomenal whiskeys on the market. That’s my private wishlist, to journey and work together with whiskey followers from all around the world. What I get principally enthusiastic about is dreaming about new whiskeys and whiskey makers I might like to staff up with!