When Nicole Austin was hand selected by distilling icon Dave Pickerell to be the first employee for his spirits consulting firm in 2012, the spirits industry took note of her fresh thinking and strategic vision. When The New York Times dubbed her “Bourbon’s Master of the Craft” in 2014, the industry applauded her distilling expertise. When the rye whiskey she helped create won Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco Spirits Competition, they celebrated her creativity and innovation. And, this week, when she was named General Manager and Distiller for the newly formed Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., Austin knew she’d found a home in Tennessee.
What was formerly known as the George Dickel Distillery will now be called Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.—the home of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky and future innovation spirits. George Dickel’s “Handmade the Hard Way” approach to making whisky will remain the same and Austin will be charged with overseeing the brand’s 148-year legacy of making Tennessee’s smoothest, award winning craft whisky. As General Manager of Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., she will establish the vision of what this new company can be and ignite commercial and innovation strategies for the flagship George Dickel brand, future innovation spirits and the distillery.
“There are so many reasons why I know this position will be a great fit for me – from the jaw dropping beauty of Cascade Hollow to the incredible history of George Dickel,” says Austin. “But, ultimately, it is the freedom to make Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. my home that made up my mind. As a distiller, strategist and mentor, I’ve worn a lot of hats in my career which have prepared me for this moment. Now, it’s time for me to draw from those experiences and build a business that creates a fundamental step change in how people think about Tennessee Whisky. I’m proud to be here and ready to get to work.”
“Nicole is absolutely perfect to lead Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. because she brings so much to the table,” says Sophie Kelly, SVP of North American Whisk(e)y for Diageo. “Not only is she an established chemical engineer and distiller, she has a real business mind, an entrepreneurial spirit and a true vision for the future of the company, its brands and the category. Most importantly, she has all the energy, passion and tenacity to make it real. George Dickel is a hidden gem in our whisk(e)y portfolio and we’re confident Nicole will take it to the next level as she transforms Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. into something truly special.”
Austin graduated from Manhattan College with a major in Chemical Engineering in 2006, before landing her position as a Master Blender for Kings County Distillery in 2010. She then joined The Oak View Spirits consulting firm where she handled everything from raw material sourcing to contract negotiations. Most recently, Nicole served as Project Commissioning Engineer for William Grant & Sons at the Tullamore Distillery in Ireland. She’s also been a fierce advocate for the distilling industry as a founding board member of the American Craft Spirits Association and co-chair of Legislative, Convention and State Guild Committees.