George Dickel is a Diageo brand, like Bulleit, and it is a Tennessee whiskey. Which is to say it is bourbon run through the “Lincoln County process”, i.e it is filtered through charcoal after distillation. There is also a George Dickel rye, but that’s actually made by MGP in Indiana, though also filtered through charcoal. The bourbon is, as far as I know, made entirely in Tennessee.
Private barrels of George Dickel began to be made available to various stores around the country last year. Some released 9 yo barrels and some released 14 yo barrels. I believe all the 9 yo barrels were at one strength and all the 14 yo’s at another. I”ll be reviewing a 14 yo from the venerable Park Avenue Liquor in Manhattan soon, but first up is this 9 yo from the upstart Twin Cities store, Ace Spirits (owned by the same people behind Merwin’s). It’s never entirely clear how extensive the process for barrel selection by stores is—I don’t know if they picked this from a broad or narrow range of samples; I’m assuming, of course, that no one actually went down to the distillery’s warehouses and selected from the barrels aging there. (The distillery, by the way, is Cascade Hollow—George Dickel is a brand name.) But if the bourbon’s good, who the hell cares what the selection process was?
George Dickel 9 (51.5%; bottled for Ace Spirits in 2014; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A big wave of caramel and corn sweetness. Some pine below that and after a while there’s a bit of dried orange peel and some toffee. With a drop of water those tart notes from the palate show up on the nose as well but they bother me less here. The grain is more evident too now.
Palate: Quite hot to start. Once my tongue adjusts to the bite it’s very much as initially advertised by the nose. On subsequent sips the rye notes are more evident and it also gets pretty sour (almost vinegary—like apple cider vinegar) and then spicy—but it’s the sourness that’s dominant. Better balance with water—the sharp vinegary notes moving closer to the tartness of tart apples (I’m not saying it tastes like apple)—but it’s still a little too tart/sour for me.
Finish: Long. Clove and cinnamon at the very end (maybe a hint of nutmeg too). Water takes the tartness into the finish as well. Something leafy at the end too now.
Comments: I believe Dickel’s bourbon mashbill is very low in rye but I seemed to detect more rye character here than would be suggested by that. I quite liked the nose, didn’t care overmuch for the sourness on the palate. Might be good with vermouth but do you really want to put a >$45 bourbon in a Manhattan? If I had more I would drink it all with water. Decent bourbon, on the whole, but I can’t see paying a premium for this over the regular Dickel, leave alone many others that punch way above their price weight.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!