GEORGE DICKEL 15 YEAR SINGLE BARREL
bottle 66 (2021)
MASH BILL – 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% barley
PROOF – 84.4 (cask strength)
AGE – 15 years
DISTILLERY – George Dickel (Cascade Hollow)
PRICE – $60
WORTH BUYING? – 15-year TN whisky at this price? Sure!
This new release from George Dickel seemed to appear on shelves without much fanfare. Served up in the squat bottle used for Dickel’s Barrel Select and Single Barrel 9 Year, this well-aged, cask strength, single barrel outing is a rarity among name brand releases. Most such American whiskey on the shelves these days is sourced from Fill In The Blank by secondary bottlers and then sold at three to four times the price of this Dickel release—Doc Swinson’s Rare Release, for example.
But Dickel has been selling off well-aged whiskey to a variety of secondary bottlers—e.g. Smooth Ambler, Resilient, Barrell—for years now. The ubiquity of these secondary releases even earned Dickel a bit of a cheap reputation. Around 2018 or so, it seemed not a month passed without a new sourced teenaged Dickel bottling or two showing up.
Is this current 15-year release—from Dickel itself and with proofs ranging from 80 to 103 or so—a one-off meant to move an unusually low-proof clutch of barrels that don’t fit into their usual mix? Or, more hopefully, now that the bourbon boom has been booming a good many years and stocks are building up again, is it a sign of more well-aged whiskey to come at good prices from more name brands?
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, here we are with this (spoiler alert) lovely Tennessee whiskey on the table. Let’s get to it. Tasted in a traditional Glencairn, almost two weeks after uncorking and about three pours into the bottle, here first are some notes in brief.
COLOR – a pale but vibrant orange with brassy and fiery glints
NOSE – bright sugary baking spices, nicely polished oak, thick sliced fresh bread loaves, baked cherry and cherry syrup
TASTE – those bright and sugary baking spices dominating, then the oak, caramel and coffee, a bit of the bread notes
FINISH – the baking spices, orange marmalade, some of the coffee and caramel with a bit of cream
OVERALL – easygoing, easy to like, richly flavorful without overt complexity
The tasting note “Flintstones Vitamins” comes up a lot with George Dickel products. I’ve never really gotten that exact note with past Dickel products I’ve tried, though I understand why one’s senses might go there. This bottling comes closest for me. It’s the brightness of the sugary baking spices. But it tastes organic, not manufactured like a children’s vitamin.
I enjoy it. It’s definitely a sunny day whiskey. Not a brooder at all. The age brings enough gravitas via the oak notes to ground the bright and sparkly sweet notes. So on a sunny day that one wishes to match, or a dark night one hopes to brighten, at only 84.4 proof this whiskey makes for a happy-go-lucky tasting experience to keep things light and fun.
As such, it doesn’t compel much more commentary from me than that. And that is not a complaint. There are whiskeys that are thinkers. There are whiskeys that are drinkers. And there is a time and place for each and everything in between. My favorite whiskeys think and drink at the same time. This bottle is not that. But it’s very welcome on my shelf as the grey chill of Winter (I’m tasting this is late March) continues to thaw into the sun and fun of Spring—even in a lingering pandemic. Perhaps especially in a lingering pandemic!
And, returning to my question up above, it’s exciting to get a relatively affordable 15-year release from a name brand distillery. It feels so retro! I do hope it is a sign of things to come. The days when one could find Elijah Craig 18 Year and the like on shelves for $40 are long gone. But are they coming around again? Is it possible?
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep sipping on this George Dickel 15 Year SiB and hoping for the best.