Metallica Played '72 Seasons' Album For Whiskey Before Most Humans Heard It

Metallica is notoriously protective of forthcoming music, and it's something of a privilege to get to experience a new album before it's released.

The band members remarked last fall that they were shocked that 72 Seasons didn't leak before the first single, "Lux Æterna," arrived. Drummer Lars Ulrich admitted that the band had been purposely murky in interviews about the progress of their latest album in an effort to stave off leaks.

The lone exception to the 72 Seasons secrecy was the whiskey that became the Limited Edition 72 Seasons Batch of the band's Blackened American Whiskey. The whiskey was sonically enhanced to music from the new album for months before either the LP or the spirit was ready to be enjoyed by human senses.

"Historically, they've had trouble in the past where a little bit [of new music] got leaked out beforehand," Blackened American Whiskey Master Distiller Rob Dietrich tells Q104.3 New York's QN'A. "I think the band — even given this extension of trust — they were really impressed that nothing got leaked to the public before they were ready to release the album."

Before being bottled, shipped and sipped, each blend of Blackened Whiskey is finished in brandy casks and serenaded by low-frequency strains of Metallica's music in a patent-pending process the company calls BLACK NOISE.

The process is a modern take on a problem distillers have faced for centuries: how to safely and efficiently impart as much flavor as possible from a wooden barrel to a spirit.

Early distillers periodically turned barrels in their warehouses to encourage spirits to visit every crevice of a barrel over time. Others have stowed barrels on ships to let the movement of ocean waves help churn the spirit within. BLACK NOISE is the solution that employs sound waves to rumble Blackened American Whiskey deep into the crevices of each barrel, picking up flavor as they go.

"The more the spirit interacts with the wood, the more wood particulate it's going to pick up, so you're going to get that depth of color," explains Dietrich. "...When you're constantly moving back and forth over time, you're going to pick up a lot more flavor. So if we're rapidly doing that; in a shorter period of time, we're going to pick up a lot more of the elements that we're looking for that we would generally get over a longer period of time through aging."

In the case of the Limited Edition 72 Seasons Batch, Dietrich says Metallica engineer Greg Fidelman provided the Blackened team a special mix of the album made specifically for the whiskey. Dietrich admits he might have tried to sneak a listen, but for the BLACK NOISE process, all midrange and high frequencies are removed from the music, leaving just the low-end to rock the infant whiskey in its brandy barrel cradles; it's not a terribly enjoyable mix for human ears, but it pays off in the finished whiskey, he says.

"The low Hertz is what creates the most vibration," Dietrich explains. "The other aspect is that you're not blasting an entire building with the entire full-layered [music] experience. We're really fine-tuning the process to be able to utilize and cherrypick what we need to create the vibration that we're desiring ... and get the interaction with the wood that we need."

Dietrich credits Metallica's original Blackened collaborator, the late-Dave Pickerell, with championing the BLACK NOISE process, which they are continually evaluating and refining today, as they seek patents.

"Sound creates motion ... that was an idea that [Pickerell] had that he brought to Metallica and they worked together with their sound engineer to fine-tune that idea," Dietrich says. "So I feel like that was kind of the origin of the idea, but also other people have tried it, but not to anywhere near the depth that we have applied the science to it."

Metallica has been committed to roaming wherever their fans are; as long as the four members have the bandwidth to apply an individual touch, any venture is viable.

"[Metallica] understood that they didn't want to go to a large whiskey maker and have them create an extension [of their brand] and slap a Metallica label on the side," Dietrich notes. "They understood the importance of standing on their own, and having someone who was a professional and an expert at making whiskey create their own whiskey. I think in the course of that, this idea really started to bubble forth. That became just another application in this entire process of a whiskey."

The Blackened 72 Seasons Batch is available now. You can find that and more information from Blackened American Whiskey here.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content