Blackened American Whiskey Cask Strength Review

Holy shit, this stuff doesn’t suck! If you’re a listener of the Bourbon & Banter Podcast, you know that I have very little tolerance for celebrity whiskeys & ZERO tolerance for marketing bullshit, particularly when it comes to barrels being “sonically enhanced.”

Blackened American Whiskey Cask Strength Review Header


  • DISTILLER: Produced by Blackened American Whiskey and bottled by Sweet Amber Distilling Co. in New York.
  • MASH BILL: Not disclosed - A blend of straight American whiskeys finished in black brandy casks
  • AGE: Not disclosed
  • YEAR: 2020
  • PROOF: 110.7 Proof (55.35% ABV)
  • MSRP: $54.99
  • BUY ONLINE: or find a retailer


Nose:  Floral  |  Cedar  |  Toasted Walnuts

Taste: Caramel  |  Cinnamon  |  Toasted Marshmallow

Finish: Black pepper that gets more pronounced by the second with a medium-to-long finish.

Share with: Obviously Metallica fans are going to be the ones to share this with first and foremost. Whiskey drinkers who want to #DrinkCurious and those like me, who immediately want to shit on a celebrity whiskey or a whiskey with a big marketing hook. They may think differently after tasting it.

Worth the price:  For me, this is an easy yes.  $55 for a cask strength American whiskey, at a time when ridiculous pricing is popping up everywhere for some sad shit, is a no-brainer.

Bottle, bar, or bust: This is an easy bottle rating for me.  Yes, I know. I’m as shocked as you are.

Takeaway:  Holy shit, this stuff doesn’t suck!  Seriously, if you’re a listener of the Bourbon & Banter Podcast, you know that I have very little tolerance for celebrity whiskeys & ZERO tolerance for marketing bullshit, particularly when it comes to barrels being “sonically enhanced.”

I don’t care how loud you play ANY music, to my knowledge it will not affect the temperature of the wood significantly enough to allow the alcohol to penetrate deeper into it.  Will it slosh around more, yes, but that’s not the interaction that gives the whiskey its most influential barrel characteristics.  So play your music, whatever it is, & sell your bottle with a marketing gimmick that makes the average customer say “hey, that’s cool.”  Or, make good whiskey & sell it on that fact, that’s reasonably priced, & it’s readily available.

Stepping down off my soapbox now. In the spirit of brutal honesty, I’ll admit that I was set to hate this whiskey from the moment it showed up on my doorstep. I’ve been a Metallica fan since I was a teenager, but the whole “Black Noise” concept used in aging derailed me from the moment I learned of Blackened American Whiskey.  Furthermore, the whiskey showed up with a card inside that says “Each batch of whiskey has its own Metallica playlist, selected and arranged by the band members themselves.”

When I went to the link for the playlist, the whole thing was their S&M2 album, with the San Francisco Symphony. Further reading explained that this special cask strength release of Batch 106 was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band’s first S&M shows in 1999.  I’m a musician, I work with musicians, I have countless musician friends from all genres of music. None of them wants to hear Metallica with a symphony. I started the playlist & couldn’t make it more than a couple of minutes into the arrangement of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” before I had to stop it & play the original version from Ride the Lightning. Once that happened, I was in a better place to taste the whiskey.

Enough of me bitching about what I don’t like, here’s what I do like: this whiskey.  My hat’s off to Metallica, the late Dave Pickerell, & BLACKENED’s current Master Distiller & Blender Rob Deitrich, for coming up with a celebrity whiskey that actually delivers. This is another pour that makes me question my aversion to cask finished whiskeys.  To date, I had only found one finished whiskey that I liked (Barrel’s Dovetail) and Blackened Cask Strength doubles that number. Finishing time in the black brandy casks is 2-10 weeks.

The majority of the whiskey blend is bourbon & rye, with the nose giving me much more rye whiskey notes and the palate delivering on the bourbon notes. The longer I drank it, the sweeter it was on the palate, but not overly so. From the nose, you’re ready for more rye spice on the palate, then are met with a luscious palate of toasted marshmallow, cinnamon, and caramel that leave me wanting more.  The only place where I am left wanting more is on the finish of the whiskey.  I get black pepper, but none of the other notes return. Adding a single drop of water killed everything, so there’s no need to bother with that.

This particular batch is available exclusively in Kentucky at Kroger Supermarkets and in Tampa, FL, at Luekens Wine & Spirits with an SRP of $54.99. The brand will continue to roll out premium, limited edition Cask Strength versions with each upcoming batch into 2021.

If you’re able to snag one, not only do I recommend it, but I also recommend throwing on Ride the Lightning & Master of Puppets.  Those two albums will make for a much better playlist than the album the release is named after.


For the first time ever, BLACKENED is now available in cask strength, beginning with the Limited Edition S&M2 Batch 106. Under the direction of Master Distiller & Blender Rob Dietrich, the cask strength expression features the same award-winning blend of bourbons & ryes as regular strength, but bottled at a higher proof. BLACKENED Cask Strength offers a more viscous mouthfeel and robust, high proof flavor profile.

The Limited Edition S&M2 Cask Strength is available in a collectible box featuring the artwork of Squindo, known to Metallica fans worldwide.


BLACKENED’s Cask Strength Series Offers A Higher Proof of The Same Blend of Hand-Selected Bourbons and Ryes As The Original Expression, With Each Batch Undergoing the Innovative BLACK NOISE™ Sonic-Enhancement Process

Sweet Amber Distilling Co. announces the launch of BLACKENED American Whiskey’s Cask Strength program, debuting with Batch 106. Under the direction of the brand’s Master Distiller and Blender Rob Dietrich, the limited edition Batch 106 Cask Strength expression features the same finest, hand-selected blend of bourbons and ryes in the original with a higher proof and is sonically enhanced to the celebrated S&M2 playlist in the BLACK NOISE™ finishing process. It’s available only at select Kroger Supermarket locations in Kentucky and Luekens Wine & Spirits in Florida and comes in a collectible box with featured artwork from renowned artist and Metallica collaborator Squindo.

Launched in 2018 in collaboration with Metallica and late Master Distiller Dave Pickerell, BLACKENED is a blend of North America’s finest bourbons and ryes. The whiskies have been individually aged for an average of 8+ years before combined in black brandy casks and pummeled to the low-hertz frequencies of Metallica’s music through the proprietary sonic enhancement process called BLACK NOISE™ finishing process. BLACKENED’s Cask Strength features the same blend in the original and undergoes the BLACK NOISE™ method, but rather than BLACKENED’s standard 90 proof, Cask Strength is bottled at 110.7 proof.

“I’m excited to debut the first expression in our Cask Strength program with our fans and whiskey aficionados,” says Rob Deitrich, BLACKENED’s Master Distiller & Blender. “Metallica packs a punch with their performances, which is epitomized with the S&M2 album release. The Cask Strength version offers BLACKENED in its purest form while emulating the powerhouse musicians behind it.”

As with the rest of Batch 106, the Cask Strength version will be available in a commemorative box featuring original, BLACKENED x S&M2 Squindo artwork to celebrate the use of the S&M2 playlist in the sonic enhancement process. Squindo has been working with Metallica since 1999 to create an assortment of graphics, from posters to tour merchandise to toys to shifter knobs and much more.

On the nose, you’ll find notes of maple syrup, vanilla, almond, corn husk, white pepper, and cinnamon bark. A sip offers a warming butter-cream mouthfeel that rolls through to almond, nougat and pear with a drying walnut, cinnamon and butterscotch finish. Add a small drop of filtered water and the heat softens up immensely, opening the whiskey and allowing a more prominent flavor profile.

BLACKENED American Whiskey Batch 106 Cask Strength is available exclusively in Kentucky at Kroger Supermarkets and Tampa at Luekens Wine & Spirits with an SRP of $54.99. The brand will continue to roll out premium, limited edition Cask Strength versions with each upcoming batch into 2021.

Disclaimer: BLACKENED provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.