We have lost a giant. Not just the craft spirits industry who utilized Dave’s talents to grow. A man who was instrumental to getting an entire industry on its feet in off the ground. A legend among the greats, David Pickerell was a friend to everyone he never met, a mentor to many and the creator of some of the best whiskey your lips could ever touch.
Known as the man behind a hundred whiskeys he was a distiller at Maker’s Mark appearing in a History Channel documentary called Modern Marvels which happened to be focusing on Whiskey that day. The first time I saw it I recognized him and thought “cool I know a celebrity.” From there his star continue to rise after leaving Maker’s Mark in 2008, he founded Oakview spirits, a consulting firm where he helped to launch brands across the country from Hillock in New York to Corsair in the south, and perhaps most famously Whistle Pig. He was also instrumental in bringing back a recipe from one of our founding fathers relaunching The Distillery at Mount Vernon and producing George Washington’s own recipe.
David was in Ohio born Soldier whom many don’t know attended West Point. A humble, kind and well-educated man he had no enemies. Last year I called him at 6:30 in the morning California time thinking that he was back on the East Coast. He answered the phone and told me that he was in Oregon and I felt horrible that I had woken him up but of course he’s been up for hours. When I asked him to speak at a conference that I was planning he enthusiastically agreed, and we will begin talking about the sensitive subject of compensation he said, “just pay my way out there.”
One of the most generous souls you could ever meet he was a music lover, attended West Point on a football scholarship, has a master’s degree in chemical engineering and most recently was working with Metallica to produce a new whiskey.
It was his gregarious personality that you remember the most even sitting at breakfast one morning with him in Colorado. One of the proudest moments of my professional career was several years ago at tales of the cocktail when surrounded by a flock of groupies he reached into his backpack and pulled out some samples that he wanted my opinion on. Just writing that I’m nearly tearing up because he was a man who valued loyalty and opinions and he cared deeply about everyone he met.
His influence and guiding hand in the craft distilling industry will be sorely missed but everyone he touched.
You Sir will be remembered as a Father, a mentor, a friend and a legend. You will be missed.