A few things about Tennessee Whisky
The definition of Tennessee Whisky is a hotly debated subjected in certain corners of the internet, and this blog is one such corner. The sides have been split between what is essentially the Jack Daniel's and George Dickel teams. Jack Daniel's argues that a strict definition and standard is
The counter argument by the Dickel side is that strict regulations hinder creativity and the ability for the smaller brands to compete. Jack Daniel's responds once more stating that Dickel, owned by Diageo, who has many Scotch and Bourbon holdings has a vested interest in keeping the standards of quality for Tennessee Whisky inconsistent.
I tend to side with the Jack camp, but for different reasons. I think that Tennessee Whisky makers already have categories at their disposal if they want to stray from the formula that Jack Daniel's created so long ago. Bourbon has already had its regulations loosened, and in my opinion that's good enough. There is also the option for alternate categories, which those who stray from the standard employ; Ole Smoky's Tennessee Moonshine for example. And even Jack Daniel's has produced whiskey which it has branded under different labels, such as Tennessee Rye.
That being said, it is my opinion that George Dickel has a superior flagship product. George Dickel is everything you could ask of a standard quality American whiskey.
On to George Dickel No. 12
Starting with the bottling, it comes in a recognizable shape similar to Buffalo Trace, but has no rounded edges, a trait it shares with the other major Tennessee Whisky producer. The layout of the label, with similar fonts and placement also suggests some sort of kinship with Jack Daniel's. There is
no relstion, however. Dickel was a German immigrant who came to America and decided to start making whiskey, but, it may be somewhat obvious that he was inspired by Jack. He had some ideas of his own, though, beginning with the 90 proof bottling.
|(Dickel is a mainstay for some classic whiskey cocktails.)|
The nose stings at first, but the odor of corn and maple caramel push through the higher alcohol content. Decanting with a few drops of water releases notes of vanilla, citrus peels, damp wood and oak. The palette is a smooth transition from the notes in the nose, with the corn front and center, but it feels oddly like an Islay Scotch with smoke and peat presence. The whiskey takes on a sweet and sour characteristic, which is an interesting dynamic.
The finish is quite long, with vanilla and corn throughout the entire experience. Musky wood, and menthol tobacco are present, and the tobacco lingers with a hint of smoke. It's not bad in the way that cigarette smoke is, but leaves an impression of old timers packing their pipes.