Welcome to WhiskyCast!

This Week on WhiskyCast

A Bourbon rick house surrounded by oak trees in Kentucky. File photo ©2020, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Exploring Whisky Through Science (Episode 812: March 29, 2020)

There’s still a lot left to discover about whisky, even though the “water of life” has been around for centuries. Scientists are still unlocking the mysteries of whisky, and we’ll meet a couple of them on this week’s WhiskyCast In-Depth. Seth DeBolt is the director of the Beam Institute at the University of Kentucky, and is leading a project to decode the DNA sequences that make up the genome of Quercus Alba, the American White Oak tree that many of the world’s whisky makers depend on. We’ll also talk with Stuart Williams of the University of Louisville’s engineering school about his development of a new technique for “fingerprinting” Bourbons – and it’s one you can replicate at home (though it may not be appropriate for your kid’s science fair project)! We’ll also have the latest details on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s affecting the whisky industry, along with a look at why pot stills may make great whisky, but lousy hand sanitizer.


The "closed" sign at a New Jersey restaurant and bar. Photo ©2020, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

Coronavirus Hits the Whisky Industry (Episode 811: March 22, 2020)

The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic took full hold on the whisky industry this week, as governments not only shut down bars and limited restaurants to take-out and delivery service, but imposed more bans on large public gatherings such as whisky festivals and even closed liquor stores in at least one U.S. state. That’s led to tens of thousands of layoffs throughout the hospitality industry globally and economic stimulus programs aimed at mitigating some of the impact. We’ll take a look at the big picture and a close-up view as well, including one Minneapolis distillery where the entire tasting room staff was laid off this week. Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits is still trying to keep production going while also fielding calls from his colleagues around the U.S. as president of the American Craft Spirits Association. Spirits producers have already donated nearly $2 million to help laid-off bartenders and bar workers, and we’ll find out where that money is going and how you can help as well.


The DramFest 2020 panel on stage at Christchurch Town Hall March 7, 2020. Photo courtesy Whisky Galore/DramFest.

The Past & Future of Whisky (WhiskyCast Special: March 18, 2020)

Since so many people are working from home, “self-isolating” or more because of the coronavirus crisis, we’ve decided to produce some extra content to help you pass the time.

Earlier this month during DramFest 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand, WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie took part in a panel discussion on “the past and future of whisky” with veteran whisky writer Charles Maclean, Michael Fraser Milne of the Whisky Galore shop in Christchurch, and moderator Dave Broom.

Their hour-long discussion is a bit too long for one of our regular episodes, but we thought you might enjoy listening to it on its own. The panel covered everything from the collapse of the Scotch Whisky industry in the early 80’s to what the future holds given the combination of a growing craft distilling movement, global politics, and climate change.

Thanks to Michael and Stella Fraser Milne of Whisky Galore and DramFest 2020 for helping to make this special episode possible, along with the sound crew at Christchurch Town Hall and the staff at Whisky Galore.

As the world settles in for a long period of “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we’re going to try and help you beat the inevitable boredom of working (and doing everything else) from home with limited outside contact. Starting with our special episode on “the past and future of whisky” from this month’s DramFest 2020 in Christchurch, New Zealand, we’ll be producing special content over and above our weekly WhiskyCast podcasts.

We’re looking at all kinds of ideas, from bonus podcasts to video and interactive sessions with listeners like you online. If you have an idea you’d like to see us look at or a way that we can help you learn more about whisky while we’re all hunkered down trying to #FlattenTheCurve, just use the contact form or catch us on social media. We’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime…#WashYourHands!

A WhiskyCast GlenCairn glass in the hand.

There’s still time to nominate your whisky club to be our April Whisky Club of the Month…even if you can’t have club meetings in person because of the coronavirus! We’ll be announcing April’s winner on the next episode of WhiskyCast, and will be sending the winners two dozen WhiskyCast Glencairn glasses to use at their club tastings thanks to our friends at Glencairn Crystal.

If you’re in a whisky club and would like to nominate your club, just use the contact form to get in touch with us and tell us about your club. If your club has a web site or is active on social media, we’ll also be glad to add a link on our directory of Whisky Clubs around the world so other whisky lovers can find you. You only need to nominate your club once, since we carry over entries from month to month, and we announce each month’s winner on the first WhiskyCast episode of each month.

WhiskyCast is the world’s longest-running whisky podcast, and we’re now in our 15th year!

Each week, host Mark Gillespie brings you the latest whisky news, in-depth interviews, tasting notes, and much more. Each podcast features brand-new content, and unless there’s a special occasion, we don’t do “best of” shows.

If you’re just discovering us for the first time, here’s a bit of our own story. WhiskyCast pioneered the genre of whisky-focused podcasts back in 2005, when most people had never heard of podcasting! Since then, we’ve produced hundreds of hours of original – and free – audio and video content for whisky lovers like you around the world. Our community spans the globe, and we’ve done stories on whiskies made in the far north of Scandinavia all the way to the tips of South Africa and Australia – and everywhere in between. We’ve met many of you at whisky festivals and while visiting distilleries, and hope to meet many more of you over time.

Please explore the website. We’ve collected all of our past episodes here, and post the latest whisky news as it happens – often several days before the next episode of WhiskyCast. All of our web content is free, including Mark’s database of more than 2,800 tasting notes for whiskies from around the world and our calendar of upcoming whisky festivals and tastings.

We’re able to do this thanks to the support of our advertisers – both past and present. They advertise on WhiskyCast knowing that they will never have any say over our editorial content, and may even have their ads running next to features on their competitors. They recognize the importance of independent, fact-based journalism devoted to telling the stories of whisky in a creative, yet ethically sound way focused on helping you learn more about whisky.


The WhiskyCast Team

Whisky Photo of the Week

 March 27 is #InternationalWhiskyDay in honor of the late, great whisky writer Michael Jackson, who was born on this date in 1942. Were he with us today, I think he'd tell us to relax, have a dram, and stay the **** home! Here's hoping you have a good dram to enjoy today. Sláinte! Photo ©2020, Mark Gillespie/CaskStrength Media.

March 27 is #InternationalWhiskyDay in honor of the late, great whisky writer Michael Jackson, who was born on this date in 1942. Were he with us today in the middle of this pandemic, I think he’d probably tell us to relax, have a dram, and stay the **** home! Here’s hoping you have a good dram to enjoy. Sláinte!