George Dickel

George Dickel Distillery Reserve 17-Year-Old Whisky Review

Photo courtesy of George Dickel

Photo courtesy of George Dickel

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.


My Favorite Whiskies of 2015

Spirits-based websites and blogs generally post a Top 10 list or Holiday Gift Guide at the end of the year.   I did the same in 2014, but this year I’m changing things up a bit.  Reflecting back on the past year, I came up with a listing of whiskies that I not only thoroughly enjoyed, but ones that I found were memorable.  These cover both American and Scotch whiskies, regular offerings and limited editions.

Except for the top spot, these are listed in no particular order.

The year is not over yet.  I’ve got some potentially incredible whiskies waiting to be tasted.  Who knows if they’ll make this humble blogger’s list of favorite whiskies of 2016.  Until then, Sláinte!

What’s the best whiskey you’ve tasted this year?



Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas – 2015 Edition

Haven’t picked up a gift for the old man yet?  With Father’s Day just a few days away, I thought I’d give some whiskey and whiskey-related gift recommendations, in no particular order.  I’ve linked to a full review where available.


  • Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2015-02 – Big bourbon flavors in this barrel-proof offering from Jim Beam. $55
  • George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Whisky – A no-nonsense whisky with caramel, vanilla and oak flavors. $30
  • Forged Oak Bourbon – A limited release from Orphan Barrel, but still available, bourbon that’s big on oak. $65
  • Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch – A little added sherry gives this Canadian rye whisky an interesting flavor profile. $30
  • The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch – A full review coming later.  This is a great transition to Scotch for the bourbon drinker.  The rum cask maturation really sweetens things up. $65
  • Johnnie Walker Platinum Label – Full review coming in a few weeks.  One of Johnnie Walker’s newest releases, this 18 year old expression turns up the fruit and adds a little smokiness.  $99
  • Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon – A robust 100 proof bourbon full of caramel, spice and fruit. Look out for a barrel proof version from your liquor store.  $50


  • Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler – A great read.  Mitenbuler covers bourbon’s history, unraveling those tall tales we read about all the time. $19 at amazon.
  • Glencairn Whisky Glass – There’s no better way to nose and appreciate whisky than drinking out of a Glencairn glass.  It’s how I sample my whisky.
  • Tovolo Ice Sphere Mold – Looks cool in your glass, but more importantly the ice dilutes very slowly.