Of all of Diageo’s American whiskies, George Dickel stands as my personal favorite. Dickel’s entire lineup is good, but I prefer their No. 12 and both of their hand selected barrels – 9 & 14-year-old whiskies. Sadly, the latter expression isn’t available anymore. Let’s bring this one back, please!
Last year I was invited to a private tour of the Dickel distillery, and it cemented my appreciation for the way Master Distiller Allisa Henley and company make their whiskey.
Last year at Tales of the Cocktail, I had a chance to sample a barrel proof whisky from a bottle that Henley brought with her. This bottle had a handwritten label and was clearly from the distillery. Turns out it was 17-year-old George Dickel. It was fantastic. I waited and waited for some sort of official release. Almost a year later, the news comes out: George Dickel is releasing a 17-year-old whisky. There’s not a lot, as Dickel barrels usually never live past 14 years. In fact, this whisky is bottled in 375ml bottles and is only available at the distillery (and a few select Tennessee retailers). Suggested price is $75.
The nose is fuller than expected, given that this is an 87 proof whisky. Notes of dried, toasted sweet corn, minerals, oak and some sort of burnt sugar. Dark caramel marks the entry, though it’s not too sweet. A bit of spice and slightly bitter tannins hit the mid-palate, alongside creamy vanilla and hints of wet stone (I know, I know… but that’s what it reminds me of). Those oak tannins really take hold going into the finish, but not overly so. The medium finish leaves behind notes of anise and caramel.
This older expression of Dickel carries the distillery profile well, while integrating a rich oak component. I like it. A lot. But not as much as I enjoy their 14-year-old hand selected barrel. I think that expression is George Dickel at it’s peak – rich, sweet, and complex. Dickel 17-year-old is quite good, but it does lean on the oakier side of things which throws the balance slightly off. However, I wouldn’t call it overly oaked. If you have access to the distillery in the very near future, stop by and pick up a bottle. While you’re there, take the tour. It’s a great place to visit.
Thanks to George Dickel and Diageo for the sample. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.