Ah, Jack Daniel’s! The subject of the most tedious discussion in all of whiskey-dom (“is it or isn’t it bourbon?”); the whiskey of choice of people with Harley Davidson and Stars and Stripes tattoos; the whiskey so ubiquitous it can’t possibly be any good. Don’t worry this is not leading up to a review in which I will reveal that it is in fact very good. No, it’s only leading up to a review in which I discover that it’s…surprisingly decent. Why surprising? Well, because—being a whisky snob—I hadn’t actually had any Jack Daniel’s in well over a decade and had no memory of it. “A likely story,” you say, “that bottle in your ratty photograph is less than half-full”. As it happens, I have no idea as to how this bottle came into my possession. My guess is someone brought it to a party and left it behind. (It’s no crime: in my time I have foisted many bottles of dubious liquor onto other people.) Anyway, I thought I’d reviewed it a while ago but it turns out I’d only meant to review it but hadn’t actually gotten around to doing it. Well, now I have. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
On Wednesday I had a review of the Ace Spirits exclusive George Dickel 9; here now is my review of the Park Avenue Liquors George Dickel 14. This was released in 2013 (at the front-end, seemingly, of the Dickel private barrel program. It is five years older than the Ace Spirits barrel and has a slightly higher abv. I drank this right after its younger “sibling”. Let’s get straight to it.
George Dickel 14 (53%; bottled in 2014 for Park Avenue Liquor; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Not a million miles from the Ace Spirits 9 yo at first with corn sweetness and some caramel. It’s softer though with a little more vanilla, a bit of maple and some toasted wood. After few minutes I get some fruit as well—plum?—and a bit of graphite (pencil lead). With a lot more time the maple notes really expand (more maple smoke than syrup) and there’s a hint of nutmeg and a bit of ginger. With water the pencil lead/graphite really jumps out at first and then the fruit expands too.
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?