Obituary: Dave Pickerell

05 November, 2018
Dave Pickerell

Dave Pickerell died age 62

Legendary whiskey distiller Dave Pickerell passed away on 1 November in San Francisco, aged 62.

Pickerell was born in Fairborn, Ohio and attended West Point on a football scholarship where he earned a BA in chemistry. He then studied for a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville.

Pickerell was master distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years. He left in 2008 to become a consultant for the craft-distilling movement and in 2009, he helped create Whistlepig—a single estate farm distillery in Vermont.

Jeff Kozak, CEO Whistle Pig, said: “Working with him never felt like work. It was his passion, humor and storytelling that helped this brand come alive. Saying we are going to miss him isn’t enough, and we will continue to honor his memory and keep him in our stories and our hearts.”

His goal with Whistlepig was to bring authentic rye whiskey back to the US and in 2010, he wrote a piece in Malt Advocate discussing his concepts of terroir in whiskey and various barrel aging methods.

Pickerell also created the world’s first solera-aged bourbon and one of his later projects, Blackened, was a blended whiskey created in partnership with rock band Metallica and Sweet Amber Distilling.

A statement released by Metallica said: “The Metallica family is stunned and in disbelief at the loss of our friend and partner, Dave Pickerell. He was not only a mentor and friend, we considered him a member of Metallica.

“We learned so much from Dave in the all too brief time we had together. But more than anything, Dave was our good friend and we will miss him tremendously.”

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