Women In Whiskey Offers Opportunity to Select Barrel With Distillers

Women In Whiskey VIP Ticket Holders Will Participate in a Barrel Selection of George Dickel with Distiller Nicole Austin

The October 4th Women In Whiskey event of the Nashville Whiskey Festival is offering a rare civilian opportunity to choose a barrel of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. This VIP experience provides a unique glimpse inside the process of a “store pick.” Store picks are becoming highly sought after bottles, as each selection represents the consensus of the particular palates that choose them. This selected barrel will be available in time for the holidays at Midtown Corkdorks in Nashville.

Nicole Austin is the newly appointed General Manager & Distiller at Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., home of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, and she will lead participants through the tasting. Austin is new to Tennessee and to George Dickel, but not to the business of making whisky.

Austin at KCD

Nicole Austin at Kings County Distillery. Photo by Valery Rizzo.

With a degree in chemical engineering, Austin began her career as an environmental engineer before discovering the skills match with whiskey distillation. The change in course from sewage to whiskey turned out to be a natural fit. She started working for Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, New York, and eventually became that distillery’s Master Blender. A native of New York, she became an integral part of the state’s distilling scene, becoming President of the New York State Distillers Guild and one of the creators behind the Empire Rye concept.

According to Colin Spoelman, Co-Founder and Master Distiller at Kings County, Austin showed up and offered to work for free, and, as the distillery was in its infancy, Spoelman took her up on the offer. He describes her,

Very quickly she gravitated to the blending side of the business. . . . Nicole was willing to put in the work of tasting everything, and created a very rigorous structure to the blending process that we still use. There are very few people in American whiskey that have as much deep background in chemical engineering, the technical side of distilling, the art of blending, the legal and governmental side of the distilling business, and the cultural side from bartenders to whiskey nerds and casual fans.

After leaving Kings County, shorter stints at The Oak View Spirits consulting firm and Tullamore Distillery in Ireland occupied her time before making the move to Tennessee in March of this year. Aside from enjoying the heat, (“it’s the first time I’ve been warm all the way through since I moved to Ireland,” she said) Austin is happily fitting in to her new role.  “The distillery is gorgeous and my warehouses are full of delicious whisky. There is nowhere I’d rather be,” she exclaimed.

NAustin Porch Sessions
The new face of George Dickel, Austin speaks at the distillery’s Porch Sessions event.

“I’m focusing on getting myself familiar with the idiosyncrasies of our distillation process and the capabilities of our new equipment; getting to know the Dickel style! And of course, spending a lot of time giving myself a crash course on maturation in Tennessee and what the whisky in the warehouse is like, which is the most fun part of my job,” Austin explains, when asked about her adjustment to Tennessee, George Dickel, and its whiskey.

Austin will hand (or nose) select three or four barrels for the Women In Whiskey barrel pick. As an added bonus, the rest of the panel will join in the tasting, including Allisa Henley of Sazerac Tennessee, former Dickel distiller and likely producer of said barrels. Grab your VIP tickets and let your taste buds be guided through a singular opportunity with Tennessee whiskey women; seats are limited to 20 ticket holders.