Review: George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish

IMG_3748New from Cascade Hollow is, well, something I never thought I’d see – a whisky finished in ex-Tabasco barrels.  Yes, that Tabasco.

Let me take a step back here, this not actually a whisky, as it’s only 70 proof.  A whisky needs to be at least 80 proof to hold that moniker.

We know some Tennessee whisky was aged in Tabasco barrels for 30 days, then blended with “essence of Tabasco”, otherwise known as distilled Tabasco sauce.

If you already didn’t know, Tabasco barrels begin as ex-bourbon barrels.  There’s a connection between the two, but those barrels don’t impart any whiskey flavors to the pepper sauce.

Let’s be honest, as I mention in my Youtube review below, George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish isn’t meant to be studied in a Glencairn glass, meticulously dissecting aromas and flavors.  It’s meant to be a fun shot, or used in a cocktail.  A Bloody Mary comes to mind.

I love Tabasco as much as the next person.  It’s been a staple on my dining room just about my entire life.  But Tabasco and whiskey together?  Actually, it’s not bad.

On the nose, that lovely peppery and aromatic Tabasco essence leads, followed by feint hints of caramel and vanilla.  Tabasco proves to be dominant here, but not as much as you’d think on the palate.  Here, the famous pepper sauce adds an unexpected herbal sweetness, that, when put together with the whisky’s own caramel notes, provide a wonderful counterbalance to the peppery spice that ramps up.  I can pick out a touch of Dickel’s minerality.  The finish stays in the sweet and spicy realm with a little bit of a kick.

My takeaway here is this – George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish is unexpectedly nice, but don’t buy this to sip on neat in a Glencairn glass as you would do with whisky.  It’s not made for that.

As for me, I won’t reach for this everyday.  In fact, it’s going straight into my ‘mixers shelf.’  A shot of Hot Dickel, as it’s called, might be just the thing at a BBQ this summer.  I bet it’ll pair nicely with some smoked ribs as a shot, in a cocktail, or as part of a marinade.  $24.99

Thanks to George Dickel for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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