Okay, before any of the whisky grammar police start yammering at me for spelling Tennessee whisky without an “e”, let me just point out that it was old George Dickel, himself, that wanted to spell it like that. He was trying to make the point that his whisky was as smooth as any Scotch whisky, therefore he wasn’t gonna use that damn “e”. Old George apparently thought pretty highly of himself.
George Dickel’s distillery opened in 1870, in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, six miles from Tullahoma (home of the Tullahoma High School Wildcats) and functioned right up until that pesky little black eye on American history called Prohibition. Like many other distilleries, Dickel was forced to shut down and, sadly, stayed that way until 1958 when a man named Ralph Dupps built a new distillery near the old site. Ol’ Ralph, along with being probably being a hell of a dancer, revived the George Dickel name and armed with the original recipes began production of the “other” Tennessee whiskey…I mean whisky (sorry George). The George Dickel brand is now owned by Diageo.
The Dickel differs from its American whiskey brethren in several ways. Firstly its mashbill is overwhelmingly corn, there is rye and barley there, but in a smaller concentration than most other American whiskies. Secondly, Dickel makes a point to chill their spirit before running it through their unique maple charcoal filter…that’s right, they actually prefer to chill-filter their spirit, resulting in a very smooth whisky. The Barrel Select is the premium expression in the Dickel line, aged for 10-12 years in…what else? New charred American oak barrels.
The Nose: There’s a great mix of coconut sugar cookie dough and salted nuts…hell, I’ll go one further and say Nutter Butters peanut butter cookies. Honeyed and sugary but not cloying, a touch of candied citrus and vanilla. There are also nice, subtle corn notes, specifically corn oil and popcorn.
The Palate: The Barrel Select has a rich, silky, wonderful mouth feel and entry. Toasted coconut, vanilla bean, salted nuts and cookie dough carry over well from the nose. Grows spicy and drying as the charcoal and a bit of rye come thru towards the end.
The Finish: A little spicy and fairly long for an American whiskey. There’s just a perfect touch of ashy-ness here, along with bitter vanilla and grain
Thoughts: A great whisky. This is a favorite of my girlfri…I mean fiancé (let’s still call her Sherry Butts) and I’m more than inclined to agree with her. There’s a wonderfully smooth richness to the Barrel Select, the complex cookie dough quality and the spicy, drying finish make for probably the best Tennessee Whiskey..sorry Whisky on the market…highly recommended.
*Of special note, check out their website, they do a really pretty decent job of describing their whisky making process.