Pursuit Spirits Episode 23 15 Year Tennessee Whiskey (2020)

Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Cascade Hollow

Dickel has its ups and downs. Mostly down according to a very large majority of the bourbon community. That reputation has dissuaded many from even trying their bourbon. Many do not enjoy that heavy minerality flavor that comes from the water or filtering process and it is a divisive flavor profile.

I’ve listened to Bourbon Pursuit off and on for several years and when these bottles, or “Episodes”, were coming out, I started to look into them a bit more. Helped that Seelbach’s was their distributing partner and I’m right outside of DC. I vaguely remember on their podcast talking about the extensive tasting they went through with their barrel broker. Getting unprecedented access to try dozens of barrels while only selecting a choice few. These Dickel selections are some of my favorites (spoilers!) and I think showcase what wonderful whiskey Cascade Hollow can produce.

More about Pursuit Spirits can be found on their website including info on previous Episodes.

Distillery: Cascade Hollow.

Region: Tullahoma, Tennessee.

ABV: 55.35%.

Age: 15 Years.

Cask type: New Charred Oak.

Price: $110.

Color: 1.5, Auburn. Natural Color. Minimal filtration.

Tasting Notes

Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 15+ minutes of rest. Dilution was added for the second half of the tasting with an additional rest of upwards of an hour. This review encompasses my initial impression to the final glass.

Nose: Undeniable flintstones vitamin minerality on the nose. Chalk, calcium tablets, pencil shavings or graphite, and slate. Reminds me of the creek that ran behind our house in Pennsylvania. Brown sugar notes, heavy on the molasses, with a tiny pinch of floral dark honey. Wonderful baking spice combination of cloves, cassia cinnamon, dried ginger, and peppercorns. An acidity to the nose is somewhat savory like rice wine or mirin. That acid also comes across a bit “green” and vegetal with some cooked tomato paste aromas. Lastly, and I’m saving the best for last here, a subtle, yet extremely interesting dark fruit note. Candied plums with a splash of orange zest. This combination of spices and fruit is intoxicating on the nose.

Palate: Cinnamon and clove heavy palate with some chili flakes, and Sichuan peppercorn heat. Laquered teak wood floors and musty, mossy oak logs. There’s a chewy barrel char that brings a pleasant leathery dark cocoa powder bitterness to the dram. Tangerines, dried apricots, and grapefruit peel. I detect even a hint of saline in the whiskey as well. Amazingly thick texture, incredibly viscous even after a few years open in the bottle. Adding dilution brought out more of those green vegetal notes and heat like raw jalapenos. It’s not pleasant as the bitterness is also accentuated. I much prefer to rest this one longer instead of adding water to my glass.

Finish: The minerality is back in full force on the finish with a mix of barrel char and calcium-rich sparkling water. Still very much leaning into those complimentary bitter oak notes with some coffee and cacao nibs. As sensitive as I am to tannins, I wouldn’t describe this as tannic or dry on the finish. Despite the heavy oak influence over the years, it’s bringing more of a wood char and smoke element, like fruit wood smoking chips. Apple and cherry woods predominantly. That smoke essence transports you in front of a roaring campfire with a flask of this whiskey in your hands. Warm but inviting.


I am very fond of these older Dickel picks from Bourbon Pursuit. They showcase the exceptional spirit that can come from Tullahoma. I do believe that this whiskey’s flaws peek out a bit too much compared with some of their other selections and this bottle won’t win over many bourbon drinkers.

The intense heat is offputting and adding water punches up the capsaicin to an unpalatable level. I think that is a huge detractor here and needs to be called out. For as many wonderful flavors that do come from this bourbon, that one singular flaw puts a damper on the entire dram. It’s unfortunate, but it’s sadly true.

A great offering from Cascade Hollow thanks to Bourbon Pursuit, but just goes to show that you need to pick through a ton of barrels just to get to the most palatable ones.

Final Score: 86