Blackened, the sonically enhanced whiskey brand from heavy-metal band Metallica, has been busy since we last checked in on them back in 2018. A rye, dubbed Rye the Lightning, joined the standard offering, a bourbon and rye blend, last summer. Before that, the portfolio expanded with the “Masters of Whiskey” limited edition series showcasing collaborations with Kentucky whiskey heavyweights Willett and Angel’s Envy. And somewhere during all that, they started releasing the occasional cask strength bottle to select retailers across the country. While we haven’t had the opportunity to explore any of those other releases (but we’re trying!), we did receive a sample of the latest cask strength, now a nationwide release dubbed Volume 01. Thoughts follow.
Like standard Blackened, this a blend of bourbon and rye finished in brandy casks and “sonically enhanced” with their patent-pending “Black Noise” process that uses low hertz soundwaves to increase interaction with the oak. At cask strength, the oak isn’t any bolder than the standard offering on the nose, but the grain-forward profile seems somewhat amplified with honey whole wheat and rye bread aromas. The sweetness is restrained but there’s enough here to be engaging with notes of torched sugar, dark toffee, caramel corn, and chocolate-covered raisins. It’s surprisingly mild for the proof.
The palate, however, is the kind of heavy metal you’d expect from a cask strength whiskey. There’s lots of rich brown sugar at play with a heavy, syrupy entry showcasing notes of maple candies, dark caramel, and whole cloves. A warming, red pepper spice develops quickly and lingers alongside a bit of barrel char and oak. The finish is generous and well-spiced with notes of oatmeal raisin cookies and blackberry jam. A considerably more mature and complex version of the original offering we sampled in 2018.
Apparently three “Volumes” of this whiskey have already been released, with a fourth on the way. We can’t keep up!