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We Raise a Glass to Dave Pickerell. RIP

We were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Master Distiller Dave Pickerell on November 1. A West Point graduate, Dave was one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the spirits industry and an ardent voice for American Whiskey.

Dave was the master distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years before leaving in 2008 to become a sought-after consultant. Following his tenure at Marker’s Mark, Dave helped launch Whistle Pig in Vermont and consulted for other brands including Hillrock in upstate New York and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery in Virginia. Dave was touring to promote Blackened, a whiskey he made in collaboration with the band Metallica. The band posted this message on the Blackened website:

Thank you for sharing your optimism, your passion, and your joy with us. You’ve left a mark on the world, and it’s a better place for it. It’s been an honor to have shared the journey with you. Rest in peace Dave.

Dave was a beloved and familiar figure throughout the beverage alcohol industry, always wearing his signature Stetson hat and always ready to share a story, a drink or a few laughs. “Larger than life” was how many have described Dave. He lived well and radiated passion and pride for his work and for the industry.  We just wish it had been a longer life. We raise a glass to you, Dave!

Read David Ransom’s profile on Dave Pickerell at Inside F&B here.
Or click below

 

Listen to our show with Dave here:

 

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Distilling’s Whisky Master – Dave Pickerell

David Pickerell. Photo by David Handschuh
David Pickerell. Photo by David Handschuh

There’s probably nobody in the world today with a better handle on the pulse of the whisky industry than Dave Pickerell.

 

A veteran of the industry, Dave has spent a career moving the craft of making whisky forward through his knowledge and expertise in distilling. First at Makers Mark, where as Master Distiller for 14 years, he was in charge of making sure that the legacy of the Samuels family’s 19 barrel-at-a-time distillation recipe was kept true, and then as head of Oak View Consulting, the company he founded upon his departure from Makers Mark to help bring his distilling expertise to the budding craft spirits industry.

 

Some of his projects, like Vermont’s Whistle Pig and Hillrock Estate in New York State’s Hudson Valley, are game changers. Others, like Old Smoky Moonshine in Gatlinburg Tennessee, which he also helped start, are more mainstream. However, all are close to his heart, as they’ve, with his input, helped revive an industry that had been lost after the temperance movement essentially shut down regional spirits production just under 100 years ago.

 

Hillrock Estate Distillery in New York's Hudson Valley
Hillrock Estate Distillery in New York’s Hudson Valley

One of this favorite projects may be the re-birth of the Distillery at Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s Virginia homestead. Our first President made whisky on the property during his lifetime there, but the distillery was shut down and dismantled after his death. When the Trust decided to re-create it, they tapped Dave, a West Point grad by the way, to help research and build it again.

George Washington Distillery by Zzzzt!Zzzzt!
George Washington Distillery. photo by Zzzzt!Zzzzt!

At any given time, Dave has about 20 projects in the works worldwide, some he helps start and then moves on from, others, like Whistle Pig and Hillrock, he continuously works with, creating new product lines while acting as Master Distiller. Regardless of his role in any given product he oversees, Dave’s input and knowledge in the whisky business is unmatched.

Hillrock Estate Whiskies

We welcome Dave to The Connected Table LIVE! On Wednesday April 27 to chat whisky, Whistle Pig, and his incredible achievements at Hillrock Estate, America’s first whisky made from all estate-grown grain.

Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple