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Review: Social Hour Cocktails RTD Bourbon Smash

$28.00

OVERALL
RATING

Review: Social Hour Cocktails RTD Bourbon Smash

Tasting Notes:

About:
Made from 8-Year-Old Dickel Bourbon. The 250 mL cocktail serves three servings per can. SRP $28/4-pack.
Appearance:
The hazy yellow of an overripe lemon.
Nose:
Lemon and whiskey burst out of the can, followed by the subtlety of loose green tea.
Palate:
All subtlety is lost on first taste. The presence of bourbon is overtaken by a sugary, almost grainy mouthfeel. The green tea becomes more like a sweetened iced tea, and the vibrant lemon aroma is not present on the palate.
Finish:
Comments:
While the cocktail presents itself well with strong notes of lemon and whiskey on the nose, the drink itself has elements of green tea but the bourbon is quickly lost, replaced by a cloying sweetness, like an iced tea with too much raw sugar added. I found the cocktail to be largely undrinkable; more acidity would be welcomed, and I add that myself, as well as extra bourbon, but in my opinion, RTD cocktails are best when fully contained and balanced in the can.

Collaborations and ready-to-drink cocktails are the name of the game these days. In a post-lockdown world, one thing that seems to have caught on like wildfire and has no risk of getting tired is the pre-made, easy sipping cocktail. This past summer, Social Hour Cocktail and George Dickel joined forces again to release their seasonal canned cocktail, the Social Hour Bourbon Smash made with Dickel Bourbon.

Classified as a cross between a whiskey sour and mint julep, the Bourbon Smash is made from 8-Year Dickel Bourbon. A recent statement from Nicole Austin, General Manager and Distiller at Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., boasts “a new, summer twist on the classic cocktail.” And of the decision to create seasonal releases after the first collaboration with Dickel for the autumnal Harvest Whiskey Sour, Tom Macy, the Co-Founder and CEO of Social Hour Cocktails states, “With our first collaboration being so well received, it only made sense for our next craft cocktail to continue to lean into seasonality.”

Social Hour Cocktails was founded by career bartenders and bar owners and launched in the summer of 2020, and the small business continues to strive to create a robust ready-to-drink cocktail while working with other brands and distillers they respect and love themselves.

One such collaboration that previously worked so well is with George Dickel, an award-winning whisky (Dickel chooses to use the Scottish spelling of whisky) created in Tennessee in the 1870s, and currently an active part of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. The recipe that went into making the Bourbon Smash is the classic Dickel mashbill of 80% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley.

Personally, I prefer to mix my own cocktail, maybe it’s a side effect of being sensitive to too-sweet concoctions, but I’m always happy to try new creations in the hopes I’ll be floored by the perfectly balanced ready-to-drink. I wish I could say the Social Hour Bourbon Smash made with Dickel Bourbon was a knock my socks off success, but unfortunately, it turned out to be more a few sips and done kind of situation.

There was an overwhelming sweetness that drowned out any bourbon flavor, giving a sickly profile that couldn’t be saved with ice, mint sprigs, lemon slices, or an additional shot of bourbon. This doesn’t mean I won’t try their next release, but for now, I would say that the Bourbon Smash is far from a hit.

Social Hour Bourbon Smash made with Dickel Bourbon review
We review Social Hour Bourbon Smash made with Dickel Bourbon, a ready to drink, canned cocktail made with 8-year-old Dickel bourbon. (image via Social Hour)

Tasting Notes: Social Hour & George Dickel Presents RTD Bourbon Smash made with Dickel Bourbon

Vital Stats: Made from 8-Year-Old Dickel Bourbon. The 250 mL cocktail serves three servings per can. SRP $28/4-pack.

Appearance: The hazy yellow of an overripe lemon.

Nose: Lemon and whiskey burst out of the can, followed by the subtlety of loose green tea.

Palate: All subtlety is lost on first taste. The presence of bourbon is overtaken by a sugary, almost grainy mouthfeel. The green tea becomes more like a sweetened iced tea, and the vibrant lemon aroma is not present on the palate.

Impressions: While the cocktail presents itself well with strong notes of lemon and whiskey on the nose, the drink itself has elements of green tea but the bourbon is quickly lost, replaced by a cloying sweetness, like an iced tea with too much raw sugar added. I found the cocktail to be largely undrinkable; more acidity would be welcomed, and I add that myself, as well as extra bourbon, but in my opinion, RTD cocktails are best when fully contained and balanced in the can.

Jerry Jenae Sampson

Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.

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