Last week I reviewed the standard-issue George Dickel No. 12, which—despite the number—is said to be about 6-8 years old. Here now is a Dickel with an unambiguous age statement. It’s also unlike its younger brethren in that it is the very opposite of easy to find and the very opposite of a good value. It was released only at the distillery’s visitor center and only in 375 ml bottles for which they ask $75. Or in other words, $150 for a full bottle equivalent. There was also the usual Diageo story attached to it of casks lost and serendipitously found. I guess this is their way of telling us that it’s only by accident that they age whiskies up these days.
Anyway, I quite like the No. 12—a quirky American whiskey with some unique notes. If this is made in the same way that the No. 12 is I’m curious to see what happens to those notes with nearly another decade in oak.
George Dickel 17 (43.5%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A richer version of the No. 12—the minerally sourness is here but there’s a richer, sweeter layer of corn all over it. As with the younger one, the oak is not particularly obtrusive though it is more present here. More vanilla as it sits and some citrus and some butterscotch. Not much change with water.
Palate: The balance here tips towards the sour notes but otherwise it’s pretty much as promised by the nose. And the wood is more muted here. The mouthfeel is a little too thin. As it sits the oak begins to pop out more obviously but it’s not tannic at all. Some spicy notes too now (rye). With water the spiciness increases but the texture gets even more washed out; more wood too now (plywood).
Finish: Long. There’s a menthol coolness that develops and lasts; spicier with time.
Comments: This is more squarely in the classic bourbon profile (yes, yes, I know it’s technically Tennessee whiskey) than the No. 12, with more corn and oak and less of the funky sourness (which is not to say it’s absent). A pity they didn’t bottle it at 50% or so: the texture is a bit thin and the palate suffers for it. Also a pity they only released it at the distillery shop and charged the price for it that they did as this is a good whiskey that I would have liked to have on my shelf. Better without water—but it’s not like you American whiskey people like to add any.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!