I was tired of saying, "I'm going to do that someday". Deciding someday was today, I turned my car onto an exit I pass frequently and headed for a small speck on the map called Cascade Hollow.
The small Tennessee burg has one claim to fame. It is the home of the George Dickel Whisky Distillery. If I stopped at this point in the story, you would assume I was a BIG Dickel fan. Truth is, before yesterday, I had never tasted Dickel Whisky. My fascination though stems from the movie version of Michael Chabon's hit book, The Wonder Boys. It is my favorite Michael Douglas film, (it also has Tobey McGuire, Robert Downey Jr., Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes, Richard Thomas .... Bob Dylan won an Oscar for the theme song .... watch the movie and laugh!) and his character, Grady Tripp, drink of choice is a double Dickel on the rocks. A drink famously remembered in the movie by a waitress named Oola. As I said, I had often promised myself to turn off and visit Cascade Hollow. Yesterday, I did just that.
There are signs to get there but having good GPS helps anyway. Like most old distilleries, Dickel is located off the beaten path by a creek. It is about 20 minutes from the freeway. You can stop and take a picture or you can take the tour - which I opted to do - for just under $11.
The tour was interesting. I believe my guide's name was Dana. She answered all questions and walked everyone through the brewing process which was fascinating, especially since I knew zilch about brewing. There were no pictures allowed inside so ones you see here are mostly outside.
One surprising discovery for me was the lack of computers. There are none in the brewing process and the storage is not climate controlled. When I asked about the latter, she told me that the company was in the process of exploring ways to implement it.
I was also surprised to learn that they make their own charcoal and that the 'leftovers' (for lack of a better term) are basically recycled. The company allows local farmers to come and pick up the waste to use as feed.
I also thought the plant would be bigger. But there are only three dozen employees, working two shifts, and producing about 700 barrels a week. They did recently produce the oldest Tennessee whiskey ever produced, aged 17 years. There is a limited quantity and she said currently a bottle sells of that rarity is selling for about $125.
For outsiders, there are laws and rules on what constitutes a Tennessee whiskey. I believe Kentucky has the same thing for bourbons. Dickel has one product not labelled a Tennessee whiskey for it only ages a year and comes out smelling a bit like tequila.
That brings me to the conclusion of the tour. A sampling of Dickel's product line. In a little bar area, the group was given five shots of different whiskey. I asked and was told that the Dickel #8 and #12 whisky was the closest to the original George Dickel made a century ago. Per chance, those were my two favorites.
This was a good stop and I enjoyed myself. I recommend it if you are interested in this sort of thing. Now, if I was being honest, Dickel probably won't replace my 100 proof Yukon but it may become a good alternative. And if I find a waitress named Oola, you can bet I will be ordering a double Dickel on the rocks.