I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.
You've seen the .gif online featuring Jason Bateman in his role from Arrested Development, I'm sure ("What? No. No. No. NoNoNo."). Well, that's what went through my head when I got the PR email regarding a Tabasco barrel finished version of George Dickel.
But then, then I remembered that my favorite condiment is made by Tabasco. And I remembered that I have planned meals around the fact that I wanted something to eat upon which I could put that particular condiment.
And so, I requested a sample. A request, I might add, that I was rightly and roundly mocked for when I last met friends for a drink. I believe that the exclamation was along the lines of "But Tabasco is so vinegary! Why would you want vinegar in your whiskey?" I'm not going to lie. He made a point, I hadn't considered. But still, here it is. I might as well taste it.
George Dickel Tabasco Brand Barrel Finish
Purchase Info: This sample was kindly provided to me free of charge by Taylor Strategy. The suggested price was $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle.
Details: 35% ABV
Nose: Citrus and hot peppers
Mouth: Sweet with hints of pepper flavor. Not as hot as you'd expect.
Finish: Mild at first with a hot pepper kick after a few seconds.
Thoughts: This is not a drink that was intended to be consumed neat. It's a gimmick product. The press release describes enjoying it as a shot. So, I'm going to guess that this was initially envisioned as a Fireball competitor (though I'm hearing rumors this is becoming more of a "one-and-done" sort of product). So, as it wasn't intended as to be consumed neat, it was a bit unfair of me to subject it to my standard tasting regimen.
Because of that, I also decided to try it in a few cocktails. And it did ok there. I'm not a cocktail guru, but I could see this becoming an interesting ingredient in the hands of a skilled mixologist. I used it in a whiskey sour and it did well. Made it slightly spicy. I had a few people thinking it might be good in a Bloody Mary, which I could see. I once made a Manhatten riff with a vinegar shrub in place of the vermouth which was pretty good, so that might be a route to explore too.
Bottom line: There is nothing inherently wrong with this and to quote Mark Gillespie from WhiskyCast: it "could have been MUCH worse." But, yeah, this isn't for me. I'll be trying it in more cocktails, but if I can't find something that I like better than my standard ones, I may not finish the bottle. That said, this is a weird one. So if it intrigues you and you see it at a bar, give it a try.
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