What we’re drinking: George Dickel Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whisky
Where it’s from: Owned by drinks giant Diageo, what we now know as George Dickel was first bottled in 1964, although Dickel himself started in the whisky business in 1870. Most of the brand’s product is produced out of the Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, TN.
Why we’re drinking this: Last year, Dickel’s inaugural entry into the Bottled in Bond category yielded an inexpensive Tennessee whisky that surprisingly won both “Whisky of the Year” from Whisky Advocate and the top American Whiskey honor from Wine Enthusiast.
These two Bottled in Bond releases are the brainchildren of General Manager and Distiller Nicole Austin, a one-time environmental engineer who later turned her talents toward spirits, including stints at the Irish whiskey brand Tullamore D.E.W. and with New York’s craft distillery Kings County.
“The Bottled in Bond was my first whiskey as the General Manager, and it was my first chance to make an impression,” she tells us. “Bottled in Bond is really a statement of authenticity and truth. You’re getting exactly what it says on the label.”
Reminder, Bottled in Bond (a designation dating back to 1897) requires that the whiskey not be adulterated by any other substance. It also has to be made at one distillery in one distilling season, aged for a minimum of four years in a government bonded warehouse under government supervision and bottled at 100 Proof (50% ABV).
The new Dickel release features a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye and 8% malted barley.
How it tastes: While this release hails from barrels maturing since fall of 2008, last year’s release was from barrels circa 2005. So the new B-in-B is a bit younger at 11 years, though Austin says she really wanted to keep the characteristics of the new bottle similar to the debut. “It’s like a wine vintage,” she says. “It’s close to the first release. We wanted to keep the key top-line tasting notes. But there’s a seasonality to it.”
On the nose you’ll find pecan and particularly apple, with those roles reversed on the palate and finish, where the nuttiness comes out more and the fruit recedes. There are also some hints of maple and caramel in the mix.
Basically, this is an extremely smooth sipper that opens up wonderfully with a drop or two of water. If it wasn’t for the lack of inventory, we’d suggest drinking this either with 1-2 drops of water or in traditional bourbon-based cocktails (Tennessee whiskey, for all intents and purposes, is a bourbon with an extra step of charcoal mellowing).
But even though there’s more Bottled in Bond available than last time around — the original is now fetching hundreds of dollars on the secondary market — this Dickel 11-year old release is already selling out quickly in just its first month of release.
Fun fact: George Dickel supposedly doesn’t put a “e” in its whisky — unlike other American brands — because Dickel (the man) believed his products were smooth and as of high quality as a good Scotch. “I’d say that story’s more mythology than anything,” admits Austin.
Where you can get it: It’s available in “select markets” for $39.99, but again, good luck finding it at that price.
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