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Cascade Blonde American Whiskey

Review: Cascade Blonde American Whiskey  (76.5/100)
Review By Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howker)

Published May 13, 2019

Recently, I was sent a few samples of Diageo’s new ‘Blonde’ Whiskey which is currently being sold in Texas and Michigan. The Whiskey, Cascade Blonde American Whiskey, is produced in Tennessee at Diageo’s Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. (formerly the George Dickel Distillery). The spirit takes its name from it light colour which is a result of a double chill filtering process the whiskey undergoes prior to being brought down to bottling proof (40 % alcohol by volume) with Tennessee limestone filtered water.

This whiskey is made from a high-corn mash bill (corn usually provides a smoother lighter whiskey than barley or rye), and my take on the spirit is that Diageo is aiming for a mild whisky suitable for cocktails and sipping over ice.

As indicated, Cascade Blonde is currently only available in Michigan and Texas, however, the fact that they sent samples all the way to the Rum Howler’s cave in Edmonton, Alberta indicates that if the product catches on it may be rolled out across North America at some point in the future.

In the Bottle 4/5

To the left is the bottle presentation for Cascade Blonde. The whiskey is housed in a short stubby bottle which features a blue and yellow colour scheme on the label. I notice a jumping fish logo just above the Name Cascade Blonde which indicates to me that the whiskey is intended to be sold not to the high end cocktail crowd, but rather to the casual whisky consumer who might enjoy a long highball style cocktail on a fishing trip or during a barbecue in their back yard. This idea of mine is reinforced at the side of the label where instructions are given as to how to make a fishing bobber from the Cascade Blonde synthetic cork closure.

One problem I noted with the bottle, was the short neck. I experienced a few problems pouring the whisky into my glass as the short neck and stubby bottle combination causes the whiskey to come out a little faster than I expected. I found I had to be very careful placing my glass right at the edge of the neck to prevent spilling.

In the Glass 7.5/10

When the whiskey is poured, it carries a light golden straw colour. When tilted and twirled, very skinny legs drop from the crest indicated to me that the whiskey as well as being double filtered, probably does not carry a great deal of age. There is no age statement, so I cannot confirm that supposition.

The aroma from the glass is muted, although I did notice a few hints of astingency reinforcing that suggestion of a young spirit. Drifting into the breezes is a light indication of sandalwood and fine oak spice, and straw. Vanilla, almond and butterscotch are present as well as a light indication of corn and a light winding grass-like scent. A touch of sour fruit and very light baking spice (ginger and cinnamon) rounds out the aroma which does not build over time.

In the Mouth 47/60

When I took my first sip, I noticed again that light touch of astringency. Although the whiskey is double filtered which has removed some harsh congeners, the telltale light burn of a young spirit cannot be denied. I don’t want to exaggerate this effect, but nor do I want to dismiss the mild heat of young alcohol.

The palate reflects the nose with mild flavours of vanilla, butterscotch and almond leading out with sandalwood and fine oak spice following close behind. The Whiskey is quite dry with a light grasyy bitterness puckering the palate between sips. I added an ice cube, and found that the whiskey didn’t really change as it cooled. Perhaps the light sweetness was muted, perhaps not. The spirit continued to carry a light astringency, and I decided that cocktails would be preferable to sipping neat or over ice.

The mild flavour of the whisky does not lend itself to Old Fashioned Cocktails; however, long tall deck drinks certainly fit the bill. To this end I constructed two signature drinks sent to me with my samples, The Cascade Crisp, and the Cascade cooler (see recipes below). Both were quite nice, although my own preferences led me to mix more often with Ginger-ale and ice, and occasionally with cola, ice, and a spot of bitters. Both servings are quite enjoyable especially at a backyard barbecue served with burgers and hot dogs.

In the Throat  11.5/15

The whiskey features a light spicy finish which also carries a mild bitterness that puckers the palate. As indicated their is a light grassy burn which causes me to dismiss the whiskey as a sipper. The good news is that the light burn disappears in cocktails.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

I settled on a final score of 76.5/100 which means that I found the spirit quite acceptable for long tall cocktails, particularly served with ginger-ale or cola. I did not however, find Cascade Blonde American Whiskey inspiring as a sipper or suitable of Old Fashioned Cocktails. My sense is that although the filtration process may have smoothed out some of the rough spots. there was still a light burn present.

My understanding is that the whiskey is favourably priced as an economy spirit, so I suspect it will do quite well in the niche for which it is intended. The weather is warm outside, and I am about to barbecue a few more burgers. I think a nice tall Cascade Blonde and Ginger-ale over ice would not be a bad way to enjoy myself this afternoon.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Cascade Crisp

1 1/2 oz Cascade Blonde Whiskey
2 oz Juice
Splash of Club Soda or Sparkling Water
Ice
Yellow Apple Slice

Add Ice to a Large Tumbler
Pour Cascade Blonde Whiskey and Apple Juice over the Ice
Complete with a healthy splash of Club Soda or Sparkling Water
Garnish with a slice of Yellow Apple

Enjoy Responsibly!

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Cascade Cooler

1 1/2 oz Cascade Blonde Whiskey
1/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup (recipe here)
Ice
1 1/2 oz Mandarin Orange Soda (Mandarin Jarritos)
3 Oz Sparkling Water

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the metal shaker begins to frost
Strain into a glass tumbler with ice
Top with 1.5 oz Mandarin Soda and 3 oz Sparkling Water
Garnish with a slice of (mandarin) orange

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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