I’ve previously reviewed two releases of George Dickel that were private barrel store selections: one a 14 yo for Park Avenue Liquor in NYC and the other a 9 yo for Ace Spirits right here in Minnesota. If you need more information on the distillery I have the bare minimum in that second link (even more briefly: Dickel is the Tennessee whiskey you can tell people you like without feeling a sense of shame).
My review today is of the regular issue George Dickel No. 12. No, it isn’t 12 years old, apparently somewhere in the 8-9 yo range. They also put out a No. 8 which is apparently somewhere in the 6 yo range. And they also have a No. 1 which is unaged whisky. They have an interesting approach to numbers in Tullahoma. Anyway, I’ve had the No. 12 a number of times at bars and quite liked it. Here now is a formal review.
George Dickel No. 12 (45%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Starts out sour and, yes, it’s the vitamin/aspirin tablet sort of sourness rather than the acidic vinegar variety. Some yeasty dough below that and a mild associated sweetness. With more time there’s a mild citrussy note (orange, I want to say) and the sweetness is more cereally than doughy. Water pulls out a little more sweetness.
Palate: A milder version of the nose; that is to say, less sour than expected. This is also no corn bomb. On the second sip there’s a bit of cinnamon and some oaky bite and some hints of rye as well (mostly in the dill family). The wood gets more prominent as it goes but it’s not overpowering by any means; the sour notes expand too (a little leathery now). Spicier with water.
Finish: Medium. Some cracked pepper pops out here but there’s nothing else that’s new.
Comments: If you’re a Scotch drinker who finds most bourbon to be too heavy on corn sweetness for your liking then you might give George Dickel a look. Despite a corn-heavy mashbill this is more oak driven than corn driven but there’s nothing raw about it. Indeed, I’d say it’s more subtle than many of its Kentucky-bred peers and it’s certainly far more characterful than its fellow, better known Tennessean. For $20’ish (in most markets) it’s hard to think of too many better values.
Rating: 85 points.
P.S.: If you haven’t already, please consider donating to my kids’ school’s fundraiser—it ends this evening and they’re still a bit short of their goal.
I tried this about a year ago and quite liked it, finding it to be much like you did, and thinking it was pretty good value. About a month ago I bought a second bottle and it was unpalatable – extremely yeasty, then almost soapy, nothing at all like I remembered. Thinking it might have been a poorly-washed glass, I dumped that pour and tried another in a different glass with the same result. It turned out to be the first-ever bottle of whisky I had to return to the store. Hopefully it was a lone wolf where something went bad on the bottling line and nothing more. But I will give this one a pass for a while.
I thought I’d responded to your comment already but I must have failed to actually post it. Anyway, your experience is a bummer—but a good job the store took it back (are you in Canada? I’m not sure American stores would accept returns of opened bottles of booze). I hope that was just a random batch problem. As I don’t spend time on bourbon forums I’m not sure if anything similar has been reported by other people or if there’s been any reports of a more general downturn in quality.