Door Number 17 of the 2018 Boutique-y Advent calendar delivers Tennessee Bourbon Whisky #1 14 year old, which, given the age and spelling (unusual for the US category) of whisky, I’m going to tag as hailing from Cascade Hollow distillery in the form of George Dickel.
Batch 1 consists of 547 bottles delivered at 52.2% ABV and costing £76.95 from Master of Malt. The label features erstwhile sheriff and zombie apocalypse survivor Rick Grimes standing next to a bonfire of maple – highlighting the Lincoln Country Process – whereby sugar maple trees are burnt into charcoal and then used as a filter bed to strip out congeners (fusel alcohols, aldehydes, tannins and esters). I'm not sure what Rick is doing here - to the best of my knowledge, Walking Dead is entirely set in Virginia some 9 hours’ drive east of Tennessee. But, Boutique-y labels are not always quite what they seem.....Rick Grimes was played by actor Andrew Lincoln. Ah, suddenly it all makes sense!
Nose: Warming sugars and spices, but with measured restraint. Pineapple and banana meet maple-roasted bacon, caramel and ginger cake. Lacquered wood and hickory chips sit alongside a nutty biscuit base and earthy cinnamon. Reduction adds an increasingly savoury side with cornbread, French toast and sticky BBQ meats.
Taste: The arrival has both viscosity and mouth cling and opens similarly to the nose with sugars and spice and all things nice - caramel, vanilla, orange peels and cinnamon spice. The development advances steadily out of the initial sweetness and into woody depths with acer (maple), hickory and heavily toasted/charred oak. The back palate introduces some dustiness – muddy tasting new potatoes and plenty of aromatic fermented tobacco. The addition of water unsurprisingly softens everything out (not that it needs it), focussing on more mainstream American oak flavours – toffee, vanilla cream and hints of wood varnish.
Finish: Medium, with drying charred cask ends, and final battle of sweet vs. spices.
Boutique-y’s first batch of Tennessee Bourbon Whisky leaves me with little to criticise – I find it very balanced and all rather charming. Despite the high bottle strength, a considered (and relatively long) maturation has resulted in even-tempered whisky that to my palate epitomises the Dickel Tennessee style. Whilst the zombie apocalypse might bring about the fall of society, don’t feel like all is lost - this Boutique-y botting is far far tastier than brains.