The Dickel brand we know today dates to the first bottling of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky in 1964. The line is named for German immigrant George A. Dickel. His distribution and wholesale whiskey company, through a convoluted series of transactions (as is the case with the history of most distilleries), acquired the Cascade Whiskey distillery at Cascade Hollow, Tennessee. After many years, the death of G. A. Dickel, and the mess of Prohibition, the operation finally came full circle when the Cascade Hollow distillery was rebuilt about a mile from the original site in the late 1950’s. The brand is now owned by Diageo.
Fun fact: the ‘e’ in whisk(e)y was intentionally left off the name because, though a distinctly American drink, George Dickel purportedly wanted it named as such due to the association with Scotch Whisky and thus smoothness and high quality.
Each batch of Barrel Select is a blend of 10 barrels from Dickel’s rack house, each barrel between 10 and 12-years old, blended by master distiller John Lunn. Like most Tennessee whiskey, Barrel Select is charcoal mellowed, double distilled, and chill filtered. Finally, Dickel Barrel Select is produced from their standard bourbon sour mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley, and is bottled at 86 proof.
Char, sweet corn, vanilla, and oak are distinct on the nose. Red grape, and toffee are also present. Finally, herbaceous, slightly grassy notes, cinnamon, and a subtle but characteristic sour-mash bouquet complete the nose.
The sourness present from the sour-mash process is more noticeable on the palate, along with a pleasant amount of char, vanilla bean, oak, orange, and a strong, sweet, corn flavor. Interestingly, I tasted flavors reminiscent of Cheerios or other grainy breakfast cereals, possibly influenced by the combination of notable maltiness and the strong vanilla notes. I think I got some mint in there as well, though not particularly strong. The finish (which I wish was longer!), consisted mostly of the oak and sweet corn from the palate, with more grassy and earthy notes and a touch of fennel seed.
I enjoyed Dickel Barrel Select quite a bit. It has a nice dark-gold color and just looks like something you want in a Glencairn glass in front of you. While I found the finish to be somewhat lacking, it otherwise has all the flavor of a great whisk(e)y and is nicely balanced. Though at only 86 proof I do wish it was a little bit more full-bodied. This may, however, be more of a preference thing as I tend to like to chew my bourbon. The lighter body is also to be expected from a chill-filtered whiskey, as this process tends to remove some of the larger congeners and fusel oils that can contribute to mouthfeel.
I’d gladly enjoy a pour (or two!) of Barrel Select again, and for $40 I think it’s a good pickup, especially for Tennessee Whiskey aficionados.
We tasted Dickel Barrel Select at our monthly meeting almost a year ago. If you’d like to know more about being a part of our monthly meetings or how to become a member of the Seattle Whiskey Collective, visit our home page.