METALLICA is mourning the death of the acclaimed master distiller and blender behind the band's recently launched brand of whiskey.
Dave Pickerell died on Thursday (November 1) in San Francisco where he was scheduled to take part in the annual WhiskyFest event. No other details have been released.
Earlier today, METALLICA issued the following statement: "The METALLICA family is stunned and in disbelief at the loss of our friend and partner, Dave Pickerell. He was not only a mentor and friend, we considered him a member of METALLICA. We learned so much from Dave in the all-too-brief time we had together. But more than anything, Dave was our good friend and we will miss him tremendously.
"In his passion for his craft, we found a truly kindred soul — Dave lived to see people enjoy what he created, and we enjoyed every minute of our collaboration on our Blackened Whiskey with him. And judging by the smile on his face whenever we were together, we think the feeling was mutual.
"Rest in peace, Dave."
WhistlePig Whiskey, where Pickerell was master distiller, confirmed his passing on Friday. "Yesterday we lost a friend, father, and luminary to the world of whiskey," WhistlePig said in a statement. "Our heavy hearts and raised glasses are with Dave's friends and the entire Pickerell family as we all mourn the loss of a legend."
METALLICA's first-ever spirit was dubbed Blackened American Whiskey after a track on the band's 1988 album "...And Justice For All". The spirit is a blend of American bourbon, rye, and whiskey that wasn't just barrel-aged, but also sound-aged to the group's own music. But what truly makes Blackened is "Black Noise" — billed as a patent-pending, "sonic-enhancement" process that uses METALLICA's music to help "shape the flavor" of the whiskey.
Pickerell told Rolling Stone that the brandy casks contain a lot of wood chemicals. "Right near the surface is the wood caramel, so when you burn the barrel, you make char and right behind the char there's what people call the red layer," he said. "That's where the wood sugars get hot enough to caramelize but not hot enough to burn. There's a lot of caramel right underneath the char, so the thing I'm going for is pulling some extra wood caramel out. As the ligaments in the wood break down, they form six different compounds that all taste and smell like vanilla — one actually is vanilla. If you can cause the interaction between the whiskey and the wood to be enhanced by sonic vibration, you can cause the whiskey to pull extra goodies out of the wood."
Pickerell worked at Maker's Mark before his position at WhistlePig.
Blackened was rolled out in California, Wisconsin, New York and Florida for a suggested retail price of $43.