Tag Archives: George Dickel

…rye is not going away – American whiskey tasting no 16.

 

Rye whiskey being the original whiskey distilled by the American colonists, it´s not that surprising that it´s surfacing again in a big way. Totally different from Bourbon and with a character wholly its own it showcases the variety of American whiskey.

Here I´m going to sample a few of them.

George Dickel Rye Whisky, 90 proof (45%).

 

George Dickel Rye

Yet another one from the Tennessee George Dickel distillery, that I´ve gotten to like a lot through some of my tastings of their other produce. Made from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley this is indeed a high rye content whisky. As many other contemporary ryes actually distilled by Midwestern Grain Products (MGP), earlier LDI (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana), this brew undergoes additional processing by first chilling and then charcoal mellowing by the Dickel company.

Dark gold in colour. A nose first dominated by dry rye spice, followed by a finish of citrus, vanilla and caramel. Neat in a tasting glass there´s an initial dryness giving way to spice, caramel and citrus. The finish is quite long and involves dry spice, some astringent wood and pepper.

Sold in the by now easily recognizable Dickel bottles. Functional and alluding to older times. Nothing that really catches your eye.

Good, as everything else from this famous distillery, but I must confess to having other favourites amongst the ryes.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, 90,4 proof (45,2%).

Woodford reserve straigh rye

I must confess being a sucker for many of the whiskies from the Woodford Reserve distillery. Their standard output shows high quality, as well as daring to be experimental with other releases. This is an expectedly refined rye packed with taste.

Made from a mash bill of 53% rye, 14% malt and 33% corn.

Dark gold in colour. A nose characterized by light caramel from the corn and the familiar rye spiciness offsetting the hints of sweetness. Neat in a tasting glass it´s pretty dry despite notes of caramel and fruit, still being offset by a resurgence of spice. A pretty long finish mixing all of the above, while adding some discrete mint at the end.

Coming in the regular, very stylish Woodford Reserve bottle it´s looking quiet high-end, and is definitely something I would like to try again.

Redemption Rye, 92 proof (46%).

Redemption Rye

Distilled from a mash bill of 95% rye and only 5% malted barley, this rye should be the real thing. Actually manufactured by the ubiquitous MGP, matured in charred new oak barrels for somewhere between 2 – 3 years, and bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Deep golden colour. A nose that´s a combination of dry spice, mint and some oak at the finish. Neat in a tasting glass it definitely has its own character. Dry, spicey and again some mint at the finish, with a very discreet sweetness midway. Maybe not something that jumps at you but still with a distinct character. Next project will be trying it in a Sazerac.

The whiskey comes in tall and slim bottles, with batch and bottle numbers. Fairly easy to recognize since they certainly stand out amongst the competition in their relative simplicity.

Redemption Barrel Proof Straight Rye Whiskey, 121,8 proof (60,9%).

Redemption Barrel Proof Rye

As the previous one, this shares the Indiana/Kentucky story, with the same mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. This time with barrel maturation of 7 years, and bottling it at a whooping 121,8 proof cask strength. My bottle is no 1125 from batch no 4.

Dark amber colour. A complex nose with dry rye spice mixed in with the aromatic sweetness of brown sugar. There´s also oak and other spices like cloves. Neat in a tasting glass it´s packs an alcohol punch which is more or less neutralized by a few drops of water. After adding water the sting recedes and you get a strong, distinct rye pepper followed by cloves and liquorice. The middle part manages to keep quite dry in spite of some citrus notes appearing. The finish lingers again on rye spice, but with an addition of astringent oak. This one I really like, and prefer to sample it slowly with different amounts of added clear water.

Packaging is different from the producers´ usual high and slim bottles. This one is riffing off the Absolut Vodka design, but with heaps of black wax sealing the cork and half of the bottle. I would say, try it if you can get your hands on a bottle.

James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey, 100 proof (50%).

James E Pepper 1776 Straight Rye

It´s always difficult to know if the ancient history provided by the producers is true or just marketing, but please check out their homepage to make your mind up. A lot of interesting facts on this series of distillates. ( http://jamesepepper.com ).

Apparently a whiskey with a very long history, where current owners has worked hard to bring back the original recipes. Quoting a 90% rye mash bill, the rest is supposed to be malted barley.

Amber colour. This whiskey has a nose distinctly different from the others tried today. There´s a start of dominant and complex spice  – rye pepper, cloves, cinnamon, chocolate – ending with sweet berries. Neat in a tasting glass a few drops of water makes the whiskey bloom with spice, oak, some citrus and a long, lingering finish with some remaining burn despite the added drops of water. Very enjoyable and distinct. Would very much like to lay my hands on the 15 years variety though.

Coming in a bottle that would not look out of place in the Mariposa Saloon. No frills just a pretty realized design concept. While their product range is currently not easily available in the whole of Sweden, trying them out seems like a very worthwhile project.

 

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…let´s listen to the snarl of the White Dog – American whiskey tasting no 15.

I must confess going from finding white dog quite vile to learning to appreciate it´s special character has been quite a trip. Whether you should call it whiskey or not is another question that I´ll leave unanswered for now. In storage I have about a dozen bottles for later review, but I´m going to start with these two.

George Dickel No 1 White Corn Whisky, 91 proof (45,5%).

George Dickel White Whiskey

Made from the same mash bill as their No. 8, No. 12 and Barrel Select whiskies, meaning 84% corn, 8% rye and 8% malted barley, followed by their trademark chilling and charcoal mellowing. No barrel-maturing whatsoever.

Crystal clear in colour with some viscosity in the glass. The nose is big and open, with loads of corn and slight hints of rye and barley at the finish. There´s also some faint floral notes reminiscent of a crude grappa. Neat in a tasting glass you get strong corn notes, initially somehow without much of the sweetness that will hit you in the middle. The finish decreases the sweetness and morphs into fairly dry spice. Probably my favourite white dog so far.

Coming in a bottle instantly recognizable from the rest of the Dickel range. Not exactly stylish but I like the consistant idea behind their design. Together with the No 12 a drink that should have a permanent place in my collection.

Platte Valley Corn Whiskey, 90 proof (45%).

Platte Valley Corn Whiskey

Produced by the McCormick Distilling Company, with a history going back to 1856. Made from a mash bill of 100% corn and then matured for three years this is a pretty unusual corn whiskey.

Light yellow colour. A nose dominated by corn and buttery popcorn. Sweet and without much complexity. Neat in a tasting glass it´s dominated by corn without that much sweetness. The finish is short and carries a slight burn.

Special mention must be made of the earthenware jug that this whiskey comes in. I find it quite classy and it will earn a place on my kitchen counter together with my wooden boxes of 25 and 30 year old Highland Parks.

…American Whiskey tasting no 2 is long due.

Old Overlholt
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, 80 proof (40%).
Made from at least 51 % rye, this type of whiskey was once the most common in states like Pennsylvania and Maryland. Although many brands disappeared after Prohibition, Old Overholt is still in production and has a history going back to 1810, when Abraham Overholt (pictured on the label) came up with his original straight rye recipe. Said to have been the favourite whiskey of both President Abraham Lincoln and legendary Wild West gunslinger Doc Holliday, it was later legally sold by prescription during Prohibition, as well as used as the medicinal whiskey of the US Navy in WWII. Now the brand is owned and distilled by the Beam company.

Rye whiskey has its very own character, distinctly different from Bourbon and needs to be enjoyed on its own terms. Although matured for four years, the colour is light gold without any deeper tones. The nose is totally lacking the corn sweetness you´ll find in a Bourbon, and is light with an early hint of wood, followed by the white pepper spiciness that is considered typical of rye whiskey. Somewhere in the middle you will also find a distinct eucalyptus note. Neat in a tasting glass you will get a dryness very different from Bourbon, light bodied with some white pepper and a short, dry finish. In a tumbler with an ice cube its light character is mostly diluted without contributing anything new. All in all I think this is an honest whiskey and a nice representative of its particular style, that seems to have stayed true to its heritage in spite of being produced by one of the largest commercial manufacturers in the US. I will probably have to get at least one more bottle of Old Overholt, if nothing else to try to get hold of Peychaud´s bitters and absinthe to make a Sazerac. Attentive viewers of great series “Treme” might remember a scene involving said cocktail, fictional chef Jeanette Desautel and the face of real life food critic Alan Richman. Great stuff.

George Dickel no 12
George Dickel No 12, Tennessee Sippin´Whisky, 90 proof (45%).
Founded in 1870 in Cascade Hollow near Tullahoma, Tennessee, the Dickel distillery went through the usual tribulations during the Prohibition years, finally ending up in the ownership of the Diageo company. While still manufactured in Cascade Hollow using water from Cascade Spring, the bottling takes place elsewhere. Legend has it that George Dickel noticed that whisky made during the winter was better than the ones made in summertime. This led him to what was called the cold chilling process, meaning that the whisky was chilled in order to filter out unwanted oils and fatty acids before mellowing with maple charcoal (the so called Lincoln County Process). Unlike Jack Daniels that lets the whiskey drip through the charcoal, George Dickel steeps it in a charcoal-filled vat before letting it mature in new American oak barrels, claiming to give a more smooth whisky. Actually, Dickel himself felt that his whisky was smooth enough for it to compare favorably to Scottish whisky, thus the different spelling from other American whiskeys.

The design of the bottles are in a simple style creating the feel of an old bottle of whisky that wouldn´t look out of place in Al Swearengen´s saloon in Deadwood. Four years of barrel maturation gives the whisky a pleasant light amber colour. The nose is dominated by a very nice and full maple sugar and honey sweetness that goes on for a long time. Very intense and pure. The taste is equally full and with a characteristic maple sweetness followed by aromatic and complex vanilla and oak tones in the finish. In a tumbler with ice you get a nose with more pronounced vanilla sweetness and a slightly less full taste that reveals some light smokiness in the finish.This is without a doubt a very well made whisky that´s both pleasing and complex, with a well-defined character making it an excellent representative of Tennessee whisky.

George Dickel no 8
George Dickel No 8, Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky, 80 proof (40%).
Another distillate from the same producer. This time made in the sour mash Bourbon tradition, but still with the George Dickel cold chilling and charcoal mellowing method. Amber colour, a sweet corn and maple sugar/honey nose that´s much simpler than the more complex No 12, but still full and satisfying. Definitely lighter in taste than the No 12, but with a pleasing dryness and a finish of new oak. Iced in a tumbler the sweetness is accentuated while sacrificing a lot of the complexity. Definitely enjoyable but less characteristic than the no 12.