Home Blog New whiskey celeb collabs: Dungeons & Dragons, Metallica, Rod … – USA TODAY

New whiskey celeb collabs: Dungeons & Dragons, Metallica, Rod … – USA TODAY


Many consider whiskey as magic in a glass. Now there’s a new whiskey brand with magic as part of its story: Quest’s End.
Quest’s End: Paladin, the first release in a new Dungeon & Dragons-inspired whiskey series, joins the growing list of new arrivals awaiting lovers of spirits. You might not think whiskey and fantasy tabletop games mix. Wrong, says Matthew Lillard, an actor, gaming entrepreneur and co-founder of Find Familiar Spirits.
“Dungeons & Dragons is a story you can play year after year … and campaigns can take a long amount of time,” Lillard told USA TODAY. “Whiskey is crafted over time and has a story that goes with it. Seems to be a sort of perfect combination.”
Lillard formed Find Familiar Spirits with friends who also appreciated fantasy and whiskey: Tim Sparapani, co-founder of Blue Run Spirits, and screenwriter Justin Ware (“Cloud 9”).
Quest’s End: Paladin will ship in November ($149, 100 proof, presale starts Wednesday, Oct. 4, online sale to the public begins Friday, Oct. 6), with subsequent bottles Rogue, Warlock and Dragon, scheduled for release in 2024.
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Each whiskey has a distinct flavor profile and unique artwork – by illustrator Tyler Jacobson (Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering) – and each bottle comes with a chapter in an original fantasy saga written by writer and game narrative director Kate Welch.
“Whiskey has been around for over a thousand years. In many ways, it is classic, it is ancient,” said Welch, a one-time D&D game designer who is married to Jacobson, in an email exchange. “Fantasy also evokes antiquity … Maybe there’s something comfortably old-fashioned – pun intended – about both of them.”
Master blender Ale Ochoa had the task of producing a whiskey matching the character of a paladin (knight), with this first release. “No bourbon we tasted delivered all the flavors we wanted, so we went on a – is it too cheesy to say ‘quest’? – a quest for several bourbons that had the flavors we wanted, then blended those together into the perfect recipe to represent the character,” she told USA TODAY in an email exchange. “We didn’t only want to deliver a great tasting bourbon, but one that fit the characters and would enhance fans’ gaming experiences and sense of community.”
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When it comes to spirits, whiskey is king, accounting for $7.6 billion of the $21.1 billion in sales in 2022. Tequila sales are up about 6% through early September, but account for about 14% of dollar sales, compared to whiskey’s share of 34%, according to Bump Williams Consulting, a Shelton, Connecticut firm, which services the alcoholic beverage industry and uses NielsenIQ data tracking retail sales at supermarkets, convenience and select liquor stores.
Some new brands gaining attention focus on flavors, said Dave Williams, vice president of analytics for Bump Williams Consulting. Among them: Buchanan’s Pineapple Scotch, Basil Hayden Red Wine Cask, Proper No. 12 Irish whiskey, and Ole Smoky Flavored Moonshine.
Other recent additions to the whiskey game:
Whiskey JYPSI Legacy Batch 001 ($203.99, reservebar.com), the first release from Outsider Spirits, founded by country music star Eric Church with entrepreneur Raj Alva and whiskey maker Ari Sussman, is a unique 115-proof blend of bourbon, Canadian rye and American single malt. Church previously teamed with Jack Daniel’s for the 2020 release Eric Church Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey.
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Rod Stewart told USA TODAY about his new spirit, Wolfie’s Blended Scotch Whiskey ($39.99, 80 proof) this summer. Made from a blend of ingredients from Scotland and aged in American oak bourbon casks, the scotch is “a fine tipple, whether you’re partying with friends, celebrating a Celtic win or reminiscing with family,” Stewart said in a press release. “For me, Wolfie’s depicts the carefree behaviour of my more mischievous days and the excitement of what life still has to offer – let the good times roll!”
A post shared by Sir Rod Stewart (@sirrodstewart)
Metal band Metallica, which released its first Blackened whiskey in 2018, is bringing out its 2023 Masters of Whiskey release: Blackened x Rabbit Hole ($149, 106.59 proof), a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys distilled in Tennessee and Kentucky and finished in Calvados brandy casks – the work of Blackened’s master distiller and blender Rob Dietrich with Kaveh Zamanian of award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. “The ‘Masters of Whiskey Series’ represents our dedication to innovation and speaks to our core principle of collaboration,” said Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo in a press release. “Just as Metallica always tries to blaze new trails with our music and artistic style, we love that we are able to do the same with our approach to crafting exceptional whiskey.”
Another recent release: Blackened 72 Seasons Batch ($49.99, 90 proof), which is finished in brandy casks while serenaded by Metallica’s music, in this case its “72 Seasons” album.
The latest from Heaven’s Door whiskey, created with the help of Bob Dylan and first available in 2018, is a cask-strength wheated bourbon, aged for 7 years in Minnesota’s North Country. The aging imparts “distinctive flavors of honey, caramel, dried fruit, vanilla and nutmeg, all culminating in a long, mellow finish,” according to a press release.
A limited-edition bundle ($149) includes a bottle of the 122.7-proof whiskey, custom box with a copy of Bob Dylan’s original handwritten lyrics to “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” and the book “Bob Dylan: Mixing Up The Medicine,” which collects draft lyrics, writings, photographs, drawings and other artifacts in the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Pre-orders will ship timed to the release of the book, due to be released Oct. 24. Homesick Blues whiskey ($79.99) can be purchased separately.
The most recent release from Duke Spirits, which takes its inspiration from iconic actor John Wayne, is a Grand Cru Bourbon Founder’s Reserve ($129.99, 110 proof), made with “9-year-old Kentucky Straight bourbon aged … in the same barrels that housed stunning 98–100-point single vineyard California Cult Cabernets,” according to Duke Spirits website.
Coming soon from Duke Spirits, founded by Ethan Wayne, Chris Radomski and master distiller Jacob Call: Double Barrel Rye Founder’s Reserve ($129.99, 98 proof), aged in American oak barrels, then French oak barrels which held Napa cabernet and Duke Spirits’ Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon. A second barrel conditioning is done in once-used barrels that contained the brand’s 5-year bourbon.
Everyone doesn’t drink whiskey – or at least doesn’t always drink it – as the continued interest in ready-to-drink cocktails suggests. The newest option: Seagram’s Escapes Berry Mimosa, a 3.2% ABV flavored malt beverage, created with “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Cynthia Bailey. She first partnered with Seagram’s in 2018 for the Peach Bellini beverage. The Berry Mimosa is “sweet but also a little tart and compliments my Peach Bellini flavor,” she said in a press release.
Follow Mike Snider on X and Threads: @mikesnider & mikegsnider.
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