What do whisky lovers like as gifts?
Whisky stones? Glasses? Chocolates? Coffee? Barrel aged anything gets whisky fans going, honestly. However, speaking for myself: I love consumable products related to bourbon. I especially appreciate the gift of a bottle that I would never consider buying for myself. Well, just imagine what I got as a Christmas present?
For those of you that do not live in the upper Midwest of the United States, I want to tell you about the life my friends and I live: we do not see each other during winter. Too much snow, too much cold, especially for those of us that are golfers. We put our clubs in the trunk one last time and say, “See you in a few months.” This April, we emerged from our exile to descend upon the golf course where my friend gave me the aforementioned Christmas present: Cascade Moon Whisky Edition No. 1.
The “Cascade Moon” name is a play on the Cascade Hollow Distillery. That distillery – in Tullahoma, TN – is where George Dickel is made. The distillery once made Cascade Pure Whisky, employing the catchphrase “mellow as moonlight.” My hat comes off to the marketing department on this one; it is a clever name, one that nods to tradition and history. Curiously, the label hides the word “Dickel” in the smallest of fonts on the label.
Is it bad form for the recipient of a gift to check the price tag? Well, I waited until my good friend Rodney drove away and made his way down the street from the golf course before I pulled out my phone. This is a $90 bottle. Rodney is quite a good friend. It is also an 11-year-old whisky. Rodney is a very good friend.
Rodney does not drink whisky, so I imagine he looked for what many gift givers do: age and price as proxies for the quality of the whisky. I experienced something similar at my local beverage store recently, when a couple were looking for something nice. They wanted something you could not get every day and that a whisky drinker would appreciate. The manager looked at me and said, “This guy would know.”
I showed them the last of the Knob Creek 12 year on the shelf. I had a bottle in my hand. It met the age requirement, but the price seemed too low for them. It was too reasonable, and – after all – you can find Knob Creek at any bar, even in a hotel. They passed. Sigh…
So, I imagine Rodney went on a similar journey. Double digit age statement? Check. Over $70? Check. Someone in the Tullahoma marketing department knew what they were doing. In this digital age, businesses know a lot about the shopper experience. They know what makes the masses move, and here we have proof that it succeeded.
To churlishly pick a nit: the whisky is bottled at a relatively low 42% ABV. Now, the question is: did the marketing department push a low-quality whisky into Rodney’s cart, or is this a gem worthy of the price tag?
Cascade Moon Edition No. 1 – Review
Color: Translucent hay.
On the nose: Light Whiskey comes to mind. Hints of tea. Some faint cardamom.
In the mouth: The low proof does indeed keep this mellow. I taste corn and grain, and not in a young, unpleasant way. It’s interesting that, at this age, the whisky kept so much grainy character. It dances back and forth between grain and rye-like floral tastes; it’s not sure that this whisky knows what it wants to be. Some would call this uniquely complex; others a might call it confused mess. I am intrigued by the journey. Count in me in the former camp. The finish is short, but not abrupt. That grain lingers around in the roof of the mouth for the length of a breath and then leaves me.
Dickel fans might enjoy this one and celebrate it as a brand extension, even though the marketing department does not want you to. At $90 it is pricey, but not in a way that feels crazy in the current climate. More serious drinkers might struggle with the low proof. Give us something higher and allow us to ice it down how we like. After all, the website does claim this is for connoisseurs. While I understand that the marketing department is after “mellow” (the reason for the low proof), what is the justification for the high price?
All considered: this is nice whisky, but the price is what keeps it from earning a higher score.