By all accounts, Nicole Austin is one of the biggest badasses in American distilling today. Now, with the muscle of Diageo behind her and a vision for putting Tennessee whiskey back on the bourbon map, Austin is hitting new strides. When she switched gears and moved into distilling, it was practically on a lark. Out at a bar, on a date, the bartender poured her a whiskey and started talking about how it was made. Austin became so enthralled she completely ignored her date and listened to the bartender talk about whiskey for the rest of the night.
The Path to Whisky of the Year: Nicole Austin on George Dickel 13 year old Bottled in Bond
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It went through a lot of twists and turns, like so many other American whiskey labels, in the subsequent years, particularly during Prohibition and beyond. Step forward into more recent times, and spirits giant Diageo eventually came to own the brand and the Cascade Hollow distillery it was produced at. It was under the helm of a distilling team for a number of years during the s, but after the departure of those doing this , distiller Nicole Austin was tapped from outside the company to take on the role. At this time of this visit and subsequent interview, the new Dickel Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whisky was just coming to market. Note that this interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. What interested you in being a distiller, and how did you come to be into the space?
Austin was born in Tarzana, California , and raised in nearby Palos Verdes. As a small child, her brother would mispronounce her name, saying "Cole Cole" or "Co-co" in place of "Nicole". Eventually her family began addressing her as Coco. The family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when she was She grew up as a tomboy , riding all-terrain vehicles and playing football.
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