Posts Tagged ‘Whistle Pig Rye’

ROCKS STARS: PROFILES IN CUBAGE – DAVID PICKERELL

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

David Pickerell. The Accidental Distiller?
By David Ransom

David Pickerill headshot with cowboy hat and Hillrock in hand

“Never even thought about it.” That’s the answer you might get from David Pickerell, if you ask if he always dreamed of making whiskey. Interesting to hear, no doubt, especially from the mouth of one of the industry’s greatest icons and most prolific distillers, who, probably more than anyone alive, has helped to shape the face of modern American whiskey, particularly craft distilled whiskey, and make it what it is today.

Pickerell is probably most recognized for having been the Master Distiller at Makers Mark for 14 years, a job he backed into after Makers Mark owner Bill Samuels saw his promise and his meticulous attention to detail, and asked if he’d take the job. Of course, that appointment didn’t come out of the blue, Pickerell spent years setting himself up for it, he just may not have realized that distilling whiskey would be the outcome of his plan.

Born in Fairborn, Ohio to a middle class family that “didn’t have all that much,” Pickerell showed a talent for analytical thinking at an early age. “From the age of five, my obsession was anything chemistry,” he says. By high school, he was at the top of his class in math and chemistry (two cornerstones of distilling), and also in football, making the All-State team. This led to a scholarship to attend West Point Military Academy, at which he earned a BS in Chemistry upon graduating in 1978. Post-graduation, he spent another 5 years in the Army as a cavalry officer, before being asked by his alma mater if he’d like to teach. Accepting, Pickerell attended the University of Louisville (while there, possibly drinking some bourbon from nearby Bardstown while studying, thereby seeding his interest in the chemical process of distillation?) before returning to West Point as a professor. Eventually, Pickerell realized that a career in the military was not for him, and thankful for all the Army had given him, he left the service to make his own way in the private sector.

One of his mentors at Louisville had been Dr Charlie Plank, a professor in the chemistry department who taught thermodynamics, the branch of physical science that deals with the relations between heat and other forms of energy (thermodynamics play a key role in the distillation process). Upon leaving West Point, Pickerell touched base with Plank and through inquiries based on his advice, started working on consulting projects around the world building stills in distilleries for large companies like

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SMALL SPIRITS ARE A BIG DEAL

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

A Micro Spirits Odyssey presented by Hush Cocktails

Manhattan is about to be awash in an unprecedented celebration of small batch spirits.

The Micro Spirits Odyssey, created by Hush Cocktails (www.hushcocktails.com) expressly for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com), is a daylong event co-hosted by Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli of Butter (www.butterrestaurant.com) comprised of a series of seminars and spirits tastings paired with the perfect small bites to honor the small artisan producers and welcomes the imbibers who love them.

Erin Williams of Hush explains why it came together, “What we at Hush Cocktails love about this event is that it is aimed at promoting the ‘underdog’ – that small producer who gets shut out of other events because they may not have the marketing budget that allows them to participate and get the exposure they deserve. The Micro Spirits Odyssey is being hosted in an elegant space, with exquisite cocktails and culinary pairings which is a luxury many of these small batch micro distilleries could not afford to produce on their budgets like many of the more prominent and established brands are able to do. As a small business ourselves, we understand the importance of support from our peers, and we wanted to extend that support to the folks who make our job possible- the creators and producers of spirits. Every big brand and company that exists today started out small, and with the support of our fellow boozehounds and connoisseurs alike making this event a success, we hope to create a community that can help build and shape our passions to evolve with success, and of course, a simply marvelous time!”

You can’t help but marvel at the lineup of seminars which will enable you to explore various aspects of the growing artisan distillery movement (see schedule below) and you’ll be wowed by the offerings of participating spirits producers (see list below) who will be pouring tastes in “Ground Control” as customized cocktails are offered by Hush Cocktails and guest bartenders: Eryn Reece of Mayahuel, Yael Vengroff of Pegu Club, Frankie Marshall of Clover Club,

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