George Dickel. The “other” Tennessee whisky.
That’s how these articles always start out. Isn’t it? If it wasn’t for the fact that they are owned by Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company, you’d almost feel bad for them. Dickel can’t even get a mention without someone bringing up, normally the writer, the bland behemouth.
Somewhere around the middle of 2013, bottles of George Dickel “Hand Selected Barrel” began appearing in stores. It was initially available in both 14 and 9 year versions though the scuttlebutt is that there were very limited 14 year barrels available and, as can be expected, they sold out quite quickly.
My wife was visiting a friend down in New Orleans in March. I’d asked her to look around for a present for me since I was unable to go with her due to work. On a recommendation from Chris Mac on Twitter, I sent her to a grocery store in Metairie to have a look around. I got a call asking if I’d like a Private Selection Dickel Single Barrel. Oh, and did I want the 9 or 14 year?…
Really? I’d read that the 14 was limited and sold out and a grocery store in New Orleans had it?
…the 14 year, please.
I was visiting Ace Spirits here in the Twin Cities looking for some bitters that I was doing a blog post on when one of the guys working there offered me a taste of the 9 year Dickel private selection they had just done. Not being one to turn down a free sample, I gladly took the Glencairn that was offered and gave it a good nosing and a sip. Yep. I was buying that one.
Once I had both of these in the overflow closet, the only thing to do was to compare them.
George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel, 9 year old
Purchase info: $44.98 for 750mL at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN
Details: 51.5% ABV, chosen by Ace Spirits. Bottle #087
Nose: Big hit of alcohol at first. After letting it sit: Brown sugar, vinegar and damp earth. With water: more sweetness and some clove
Mouth: Hot. Oak caramel and hint of vinegar. With water: still a lot of oak, but the heat is calmed and it becomes a bit sweeter.
Finish: Long and warm with lingering sweet caramel. Water didn’t affect the finish much.
Thoughts: This guy wants water. Don’t get me wrong, I bought it after tasting it neat in the store but water calms it a bit and allows more sweetness to appear. It’s quite good. I like this.
George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel, 14 year old
Purchase info: ~$90-$100 for a 750mL at Dorignac’s Food Center, Metairie, LA
Details: 53% ABV. chosen by Dorignac’s Food Center. Barrel# 98K24A36-3-9. Bottle 089
Nose: Lot’s of wood followed by cloves and a hint of sweetness
Mouth: Hot, but managable. Caramel, JuicyFruit gum, oak, ginger
Finish: Nice and long. Good warmth. Lingering caramel and fruitiness.
Thoughts: I like this one alot. It is scary easy to drink at 106 proof. To be honest if handed this blind, I would have guessed it was a Four Roses, but given how much I like them, that’s a good thing.
These are both quite good. For me, the 14 year wins hands down due to being less oaky, sweeter, fruitier and easier to drink. My wife on the other hand prefers whisky with more oak on it so she prefers the 9 year. Both are highly recomended.