Metallica Mourns Death of Distiller Behind Its Just-Launched Whiskey Brand

Herbert P. Oczeret/AFP/Getty Images

Metallica onstage in Vienna on March 31, 2018.

The master distiller behind Metallica's just-launched brand of whiskey has died. The thrash icons said on Friday that they were "stunned and in disbelief" at the loss of Dave Pickerell, whom they enlisted to create Blackened, the band's first release from its Sweet Amber Distilling Co.  

"He was not only a mentor and friend, we considered him a member of Metallica," the band said. "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."

Pickerell died on Thursday, according to WhistlePig Whiskey, where he was master distiller. The Daily Beast is reporting that Pickerell passed away while in San Francisco for the annual WhiskyFest event, set to begin tonight. No other details have been released.

"Yesterday we lost a friend, father, and luminary to the world of whiskey," WhistlePig announced on Friday. "Our heavy hearts and raised glasses are with Dave’s friends and the entire Pickerell family as we all mourn the loss of a legend."

Named after the opening track from 1988's ...And Justice for All, Blackened is described as a blend of bourbons, ryes and whiskey that is stored in black brandy barrels and "inundated with low hertz sound waves so intense that it actually enhances the molecular interaction and ultimately the finish." The sonically enhanced spirit hit shelves on Aug. 30.

Prior to his work with Metallica and WhistlePig, Pickerell ran his own consulting firm and spent 14 years at Maker's Mark.