EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: George Dickel

Review: George Dickel No. 12 Whisky

Owned by Diageo, George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey is distilled and aged at the George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee and bottled at 45% ABV.

Price: $19-$25

A German born immigrant, George Dickel settled in Nashville and started a company to wholesale and distribute whiskey. In 1888, George A. Dickel and Company became the sole distributor for Cascade Whisky made outside Tullahoma, Tennessee, which was marketed as being "Mellow as Moonlight." But, in 1910, Tennessee enacted statewide prohibition of the manufacturing and sale of alcohol so Victor Emmanuel Shwab, the then owner of the Geo A. Dickel & Co. moved production of Cascade Whisky to the Stitzel Distillery in Louisville until Kentucky enacted prohibition in 1917.

After the repeal of national prohibition, Shwab sold the Cascade Whisky brand to the Schenley Distilling Company who made a version of the whiskey for over a decade marketed as Geo. A. Dickel's Cascade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. Looking to compete with Jack Daniel's, Schenley built the Cascade Hollow distillery about a mile from the original distillery site. Whiskey production at Cascade Hollow began on July 4, 1959, and George Dickel Tennessee Whisky was first bottled in 1964. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions Diageo became the owner of the Cascade Hollow Distillery and the George Dickel brand in 1997. 

A quick side note about spelling. Current marketing from Diageo claims that George Dickel spelled his whisky without an 'e' to relate it to the superior tasting whisky coming out of Scotland. There is no solid historical evidence to support this claim. What is historically verifiable is that both spellings of whiskey and whisky were used completely interchangeably throughout the 19th century and it wasn't until the 1960s that the US began to prefer the spelling with an e and associate the spelling without and e with Scotch. For more information see my series Whiskey vs. Whisky.

George Dickel Tennessee Whiskies have a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. This high corn mash bill gives the whiskeys a naturally sweeter flavor profile. Dickel is distilled on a 42 inch column still and according to Camper English the whiskey comes out around 135 proof.  The new make whiskey is cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and then added to vats of sugar maple charcoal which sits for about a week before being drained and barreled. Mellowing Tennessee whiskey with sugar maple charcoal before it enters a barrel is know as the "Lincoln County Process" and is believed to filter out harsh impurities. In May 13, 2013, Tennessee enacted a law that mandated the Lincoln County process  be used for all spirits labeled as Tennessee Whiskey except Prichard Distillery which received an exemption.

After being filtered through sugar maple, the unaged whiskey is proofed down to 57.5 and put into new American oak barrel with a #4 char. George Dickle No. 12 does not have an age statement of the bottle which tells us that the whiskey in the bottle is at least 4 years old. However, a couple of interviews with former master distillers for George Dickle place the aged of the barrels pulled for No. 12 at 6-12 years old.

Lastly, George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Whisky was one of six whiskeys I included in a blind tasting of whiskeys less than $20. In this very unscientific tasting with a small group of my friends, Dickel came in right in the middle and ranked 4th. 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The whiskey has a muted nose with light notes of apple cider juice and just a touch of alcohol.

Palate: This light bodied whiskey is sweet on the palate with a little bit of oak and a hit of fruitiness.

Finish: The finish is short and has notes of apple and oak and then it's done.

Conclusion: George Dickel No.12 is a simple and easy to drink whiskey. While it does not have a ton of character compared to Kentucky bourbons, this is meant to be a different animal. Dickel No. 12 works neet, on the rocks, in your favorite tall drink or even a Manhattan. For the price I think Dickel No. 12 is a nice whiskey though not my first choice. 

Blind Whiskey Tasting $20 and Under

In June, David Driscoll of K&L Wines wrote a series of post called “Drinking to Drink.” While the series touched on a number of things, one of the themes was how whiskey drinkers often correlate price with enjoyment.  Driscoll argued that just because one whiskey is $80 doesn't mean that a drinker will enjoy it four times more than a $20 bottle.  In that same vein he suggested that there were a number of quality whiskeys that could be had for $20 and enjoyed more regularly without breaking the bank. After reading this series, I was inspired to organize a whiskey tasting of bottles that retailed around $20 or less.  I was curious to find out if there was a whiskey that I had overlooked simply because it lived on a lower shelf in the liquor aisle.

With some help from another post by Driscoll and my own mental list, I put together a list of six whiskies around $20 for the tasting.

  1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  2. Old Weller Antique Bourbon
  3. Jim Beam Black Label Bourbon
  4. Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon
  5. George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Whisky
  6. Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky

I know that Bulleit Bourbon can also be found on sale for under $20 but my friends and I are pretty familiar with it so I decided to leaving it out of the tasting.  I also decided to conduct the tasting blind. That there are a number of factors that can sway the perception of how good a beer, wine or spirit is based on external factors like, what shelf it's on in the store, label design, bottle shape and price.  I wanted to get an honest assessment of the contents of the bottles without being swayed by some of those external factors, so I had my wife wrap all the bottles in brown paper bags before the tasting.

The night of the tasting a friend of mine hosted the event and provided glasses, snacks and still water. We tasted the spirits in random order in glencairn glasses, neat, at room temperature.  We each took notes about what we tasted and gave each spirit a rating.  Once everyone had tasted all the whiskeys we revealed each whiskey from lowest to highest score.

 The undisputed favorite of the evening was Evan Williams Black Label, the least expensive whiskey, which retails at my local Safeway for $9.99.  I had tasted Evan Williams only once before a few months prior and I thought it would do well in the tasting but I didn't expect it to come out on top. Next came Buffalo Trace and Old Weller Antique.  I wasn't that surprised that these did well for the whole group but personally I was shocked that I had rated Old Weller above Buffalo Trace. This surprised me because I really like rye whiskeys and I have never been a fan of Maker's Mark. I assumed that this meant that I didn't like wheated bourbons and that I preferred bourbons with rye in their mash bill over wheat.  But even at 107 proof, I felt like Old Weller was more balanced and had more character compared to the 90 proof Buffalo Trace.

Dickel, Beam and Bank Note finished in the lower half.  Bank Note is a blended Scotch, and for the price I still think it is pretty good but I suspect that compared to all the bourbons it stood out like a sore thumb, and not it a good way.  The results that evening are exactly why I like to do blind tastings.  My assumptions about what I do and don't like were challenged and as a result I now have two new favorite whiskeys under $20: Evan Williams, and Old Weller.

Tennessee Whiskey Gets a Legal Definition

On May 13th 2013, Bill Haslam, governor of Tennessee (TN) signed House Bill 1084, which created the first state law to define what can be called Tennessee Whiskey.   The law defines TN whiskey as: a spirit manufactured in TN; filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging, also know as the Lincoln County Process; made from grain that consists of at least 51% corn; distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% abv); aged in new charred oak barrels; placed in the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% abv); and, bottled at not less than 80 proof (40% abv). 

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