Exclusive: Metallica on the Success of the Band’s Official Whiskey

The group sat down with Blackened Master Distiller Rob Dietrich for a roundtable discussion, and we have a first look

Metallica's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich discussing music and whiskey with Blackened Master Distiller Rob Dietrich
Metallica's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich discussing music and whiskey with Blackened Master Distiller Rob Dietrich.

Can a whiskey truly be shaped by music? And what if that music was exclusively from Metallica? The metal icons are about to answer those questions and take a deep dive into the making of their official whiskey, Blackened, through a series of video interviews.

A little background: Six years ago the band launched Blackened, a blended whiskey co-created with the late Dave Pickerell, an award-winning master distiller known for his work at WhistlePig. A range of bourbons, ryes and whiskeys finished in black brandy casks, Blackened takes on Metallica’s “spirit” via a patent-pending process called “Black Noise,” where the whiskey is agitated and pummeled with curated playlists of the band’s music.

Nobody quite knew what to make of the process then. Today? Blackened’s sonically-enhanced whiskey has won numerous accolades, including Double Gold at the SIP Awards (2021), Double Gold at the PR%F Awards (2021), Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2020), Platinum at the Ascot Awards (2021) and Gold at the John Barleycorn Awards (2022). And their limited-edition releases, including Rye the Lightning (yes, it’s a Metallica album title pun) and Blackened’s Masters of Whiskey Series: Willett, have done even better, taking home an impressive number of Gold and Double Gold honors. 

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We were able to talk to some of Metallica’s band members and Master Distiller/Blender Rob Dietrich a few years back about their approach to Blackened. But now, the entire band and Dietrich have sat down for a much longer discussion, as part of a new behind-the-scenes web series titled The Blending Sessions, which takes on what goes into making music and whiskey (two new episodes will debut weekly). InsideHook has a first look at that roundtable; you can see a teaser below.

Note: If you’re more of a fan of the band than the spirit, there’s a good amount of music talk in the videos along with the whiskey discussion. Or vice versa, if you’re more into the whiskey!

You can see the full videos, starting today, on Blackened’s website

Metallica, who recently released both a great new album (72 Seasons) and a revitalized Blackened whiskey sonically enhanced by the album, continues its world tour in May. As for what’s new with the whiskey? Dietrich has started partnering with other distillers for Blackened’s Masters of Whiskey Series, which launched in 2021. After collaborations with Willett’s Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen and Angel’s Envy’s Wes Henderson, this past fall saw the release of Blackened x Rabbit Hole, a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys distilled in Tennessee and Kentucky finished in Calvados casks, created in partnership with Kaveh Zamanian of Rabbit Hole


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