George Dickel No. 8 Whisky
I must admit that before joining the team here at SOTR, my experience with Tennessee Whisky has been very limited. I naturally gravitated towards bourbon because I lived in Louisville when I really got into whiskey. As I branched out, I started tasting scotch and Irish whiskey but admittedly neglected Tennessee Whisky. Because our fearless leader here at SOTR, Siz, lives in Nashville, he has made sure that Isaac and I know that Tennessee makes some tasty whisky as well! Everyone knows the state’s well-known brand Jack Daniels, but not as many people know about George Dickel. I already did a review of a whisky from the former, so now on to George Dickel No. 8 Whisky to see what they have to offer.
It never ceases to amaze me how many twists and turns current whiskey brands’ history take, and George Dickel is no different. As you can probably guess, the name is a reference to a person. George A. Dickel founded a wholesaling firm in the 1860’s that distributed whisky from Cascade Distillery that was located near Tullahoma, Tennessee. After Dickel’s health problems, his brother-in-law took over the day to day operations. It was then that Dickel’s brother-in-law bought a share of the Cascade Distillery. Because Tennessee enacted a state prohibition roughly 10 years prior to the federal prohibition law, the Cascade Distillery’s production was moved to the famed Stitzel Distillery in Louisville. When the federal prohibition law went into effect, they were forced to shut down operation.
After prohibition was repealed the Cascade brand was re-introduced and eventually changed to the George Dickel brand that we know today. Currently, George Dickel is produced about a mile from the original distillery and uses the same water source. The company is now a part of the Diageo portfolio.
George Dickel No. 8 Whisky has an aroma that is very grain forward. You get sweet corn right away that is quite prevalent. Along with the big corn sweetness is vanilla and orange. I also got a bit of smoke to round out the nose. The corn and smoke notes together confused me at first because while I blind tasted this whisky, it reminded me of both bourbon and scotch. Then it dawned on me that it must be a Tennessee Whisky because of their charcoal filtering (hence the smoke). It is moments like these that make me enjoy blind tasting. While not for everyone, or everyday use for that matter, blind tasting really makes you think about the processes that make the finished product taste/smell like it does.
You might have noticed that I have been spelling whisky like they spell it over in Scotland. It is generally spelled ‘whiskey’ here in America, but George Dickel chose to go with the Scottish spelling because he thought that his whisky was comparable to quality scotch. As I figured out from nosing this whisky, there are some characteristics of scotch, notably the smoke. I’m not saying this tastes just like a scotch, but there are certain things that I associate with scotch.
This was an enjoyable whisky, especially considering that you can pick this up for about $16-18! Although the nose was pleasant, it wasn’t extremely complex. There is much more going on in the palate, though. The same sweet corn note was prevalent, but I could pick up other notes as well such as vanilla, maple, and orange. There was also a faint note of pine needles. I must admit that I have seen someone make tea in the wild out of pine needles on one of those survival shows so I thought I would give it a go. It actually wasn’t too bad! That is the taste that I was picking up. There is also a bit of spice that is more of a cinnamon note than the usual pepper spice. In the finish, there are the usual wood notes along with some spice and smoke.
Black & Blue Cocktail:
As I was perusing the cocktail section of George Dickel’s website, one in particular caught my eye. There was one problem; I couldn’t find one of the ingredients: crème de mure. I’ll be honest; I didn’t even know what it was! It turns out that it is a blackberry liqueur, so I did what I always do in this situation. I checked if there was any viable substitutes. That’s when I found a blackberry and lemon soda. Since the recipe also calls for lemon juice, simple syrup, and fresh blackberries this soda seemed to be an acceptable substitute.
- 2 oz. George Dickel No 8
- 3 oz. Spindrift Blackberry Soda
- Absinthe rinse
- Lemon peel
First, add the George Dickel No 8 and Blackberry Soda to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into an absinthe-rinsed old fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Just in case you happened to find crème de mure, here is the recipe for the base cocktail. It uses George Dickel No 12, but I’ll just substitute No 8 in the ingredient section.
- 1 1/3 oz. George Dickel No 8
- 75 oz. lemon juice
- 5 oz. simple syrup
- 5 oz. crème de mure
- Absinthe rinse
- Lemon peel
The preparation of this cocktail is the same as the first one. Just add a blackberry to garnish.
When you think of Tennessee Whisky, the first brand that comes to mind usually isn’t George Dickel. I for one will be changing that mindset. For this price point, George Dickel No. 8 Whisky is a great value! This is the second Tennessee Whisky that I have reviewed for SOTR and I’m starting to open my mind to what Siz has been saying all along; that Tennessee makes some quality whisky too! If you are looking for something under $20, George Dickel No. 8 Whisky is a great option.