David Tao

David Tao is a writer for Drinkhacker.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Bourbon

Review: Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon 7 Years Old (2024)

By David Tao | April 7, 2024 |

Since they began procuring whiskey from other producers in 2011, Smooth Ambler hasn’t been shy about labeling the resulting products as sourced. Today, the distillery categorizes its offerings across three labels: Old Scout, a brand for their sourced offerings Founders’ Series, which denotes bottlings with 100 percent in-house distillate Contradiction, with bottlings containing a blend…

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Can the Keepers of the Quaich Grow Scotch’s Most Valuable Market?

By David Tao | March 12, 2024 |

As liquor industry organizations go, the Keepers of the Quaich is the top of the pyramid for Scotch. Its founding partners — multinational giants Pernod Ricard, Diageo, and Edrington — and other member companies represent a huge chunk of the country’s whisky production. Its twice-yearly, decadent galas are FOMO-inducing events, when select professionals “who work,…

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Longmorn

Review: Longmorn 18 and 22 Years Old

By David Tao | March 6, 2024 |

Founded in 1894, Longmorn is a Speyside Scotch producer that only recently made its entrance into the American market. In early 2024, Longmorn launched 18 and 22 year-old expressions stateside. Both are non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength without added coloring.. The two expressions will form the core of Longmorn’s American lineup, and the…

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Bhakta 2013 Rye

Review: Bhakta Rye 2013

By David Tao | March 2, 2024 |

Raj Bhakta founded WhistlePig and helped (re)popularize rye among American consumers. With Bhakta, his eponymous second act in spirits, Raj has leaned into highly aged brandy, rum, blends, and bourbon. It turns out, it was only a matter of time before a full-on rye release was back on the table. Announced in January 2024, Bhakta…

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Cameron George

Can Scotch Win More American Hearts and Minds? Brand Building with Ardbeg’s Cameron George

By David Tao | February 24, 2024 |

In a whisky world pushing press around master distillers and blenders, one group with outsized market impact doesn’t always get the spotlight: professional brand ambassadors. They’re the folks often closest to accounts both on and off-premises, promoting brands at large-scale events, and tackling entry into new markets one at a time. Few spirits in the…

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Jaywalk Straight Rye Whiskey

Review: NY Distilling Co. Jaywalk Straight Rye

By David Tao | February 23, 2024 |

Brooklyn’s NY Distilling Co. recently announced the release of three different rye expressions, all using a unique grain that harkens back to 17th-century New York State. Jaywalk Rye utilizes Horton Rye, a grain smaller in size than traditional rye used for whiskey making. NY Distilling’s Allen Katz and Tom Potter partnered with Cornell University to…

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Makers Mark

Maker’s Mark Embraced Regenerative Agriculture. Will It Change Its Bourbon?

By David Tao | February 10, 2024 |

Maker’s Mark had a busy 2023, releasing its first age-stated bourbon and celebrating 70 years of operation. In addition, the Beam Suntory-owned distillery also announced their move toward regenerative agriculture, becoming the first whiskey producer to be third-party certified by Regenified. The Tier 2 certification — there are five possible levels, and brands have three…

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Kaveh-Zamanian

Rabbit Hole’s Kaveh Zamanian Thinks Wine and Beer Will Inspire Future of American Whiskey

By David Tao | January 22, 2024 |

When Rabbit Hole Distillery founder Kaveh Zamanian began his whiskey journey, he was one of the industry’s ultimate outsiders. A native of Iran and a career psychologist with numerous academic appointments, Zamanian and his wife Heather moved to Louisville in order to be closer her family. Proximity to bourbon soon turned to passion, and soon…

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Ancho Reyes Barrica

Review: Ancho Reyes Barrica Chile Liqueur

By David Tao | December 31, 2023 |

Ancho Reyes’ chile liqueur has quietly built a following among mixologists for its original (ancho chile) and verde varieties, especially as a go-to for spicy margaritas and other classic cocktails. Recently, the Campari-owned brand released its first new product since 2017: Ancho Reyes Barrica. Ancho Reyes Barrica is a barrel-aged version of the red chile…

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Colby Frey

Grain to Glass and Climate Change: An Interview with Frey Ranch Founder Colby Frey

By David Tao | December 5, 2023 |

Frey Ranch sits in a unique segment in American whiskey: a full farm and distillery estate operation, they grow every bit of their own grain, then distill and age on site. And as a Nevada-based operation, they operate in one of America’s driest climates, often putting them at the forefront of climate change’s impact on…

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