- DISTILLER: Cascade Hollow Distillery
- MASH BILL: 84% Corn | 8% Rye | 8% Malted Barley
- AGE: 18 years old
- YEAR: 2023
- PROOF: 90 proof
- MSRP: $510 (for a 700ml bottle)
SHARE WITH: Those who still swear old bourbon is better bourbon. Unicorn chasers who've had everything else. Your dentist.
WORTH THE PRICE: I will tell anyone who listens that George Dickel 15 Years Old and the 13-year-old Bottled in Bond releases are two of the best values in American whiskey. This is the opposite of that bottle. Sure, it's old enough to vote and supposed to be more bourbon-ey than Dickel's classic Tennessee whiskey, but a bottle of entirely respectable 8-year-old Dickel Bourbon costs all of $30. Couldn't we have gotten a 10-year-old for $60 or a 12-year-old for $100 before skyrocketing all the way to this? We whiskey lovers need to be romanced a little before we drop a car payment or two on a 90-proof bourbon that, while well-made, is clearly targeted at only the wealthiest or most financially irresponsible among us.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar. The price point is nearly disqualifying. And I thought about it for quite a while. But it is an enjoyable older bourbon, and if you can manage to score a half ounce at whatever bar these end up at, it's worth a try, if only to see what Dickel thinks deserves this price tag.
OVERALL: I respect the hell out of what Nicole Austin has done at Cascade Hollow, and I get the need to hitch the Dickel wagon to the super-premium bourbon boom. With mostly value bottlings, the brand's heritage Tennessee whiskey line is a harder place to premiumize with the exception of the 17-year-old Reserve which somehow costs three times what the 15-year-old fetches. I suppose I'm seeing a trend here.
The marketing surrounding the introduction of George Dickel Bourbon was already a little patronizing to consumers. They get to just decide what's bourbon and what's Tennessee whiskey? Apparently.
That was easy enough to ignore when the product was a solid value, and I assumed that success would give the brand room to finesse its story and expand the age-stated lineup incrementally. But going from zero to unicorn in one product cycle leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
While we're on the topic of taste, I should probably stop complaining about the price and talk about the bourbon itself because it is actually pretty good. The oak profile dominates the aroma, delivering deep, damp notes of old basement and barn doors that almost come across even older than the age-statement if not for a welcome mix of cinnamon candies and orange creamsicle that add richness and impressive contrast to all that oak. Despite this being a bourbon on paper, I'm still getting the dark maple candies, barrel char, and slight minerality of Dickel's non-bourbon brethren, albeit with all that oak adding plenty of old furniture and leather to the mix. It's light, as you would expect from a 90-proofer, but there's still quite a bit of flavor packed into the sip with a full, round finish of well-cooked butterscotch, black cherry, and baking spice.
There is another nit to pick with this one, and I'll let you get on with your life. Dickel Bourbon 18 Years Old comes packaged in an international-friendly 700ml, meaning you're getting 1/15th less in the bottle for all those Benjamins. There's far less well-aged bourbon available outside of the US, so some of that steep admission price may be a calculation for consumers beyond our borders, which sucks.
The new Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years is a bourbon that has been aged in charred oak barrels and blended to perfection. Hailing from the quiet hills of Cascade Hollow, the long aging process in our single-story rickhouses imparted Dickel Bourbon 18 Year Old with mellow yet complex flavors including deep notes of crème brulée and stone fruit.
Nose: Creme brûlée leading into stone fruit
Finish: Long lasting, boasting almond, toffee, and oak
Disclaimer: Bourbon & Banter received a sample of this product from the brand for review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.