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George Dickel is the only other Tennessee whiskey distillery still in existence. Currently owned by Diageo, it was founded in the 1870s by a Nashville merchant who had immigrated from Germany (guess what his name was). When Prohibition hit Tennessee in 1910, the distillery moved to Kentucky, where it was soon acquired by Schenley. They moved it back to its original location on Cascade Hollow in 1958.
This is the most premium Dickel expression, from a single barrel of 9 year old spirit. Because I'm tasting this from a sample (courtesy of @cpstecroix's lovely wife) I don't know the barrel information. This was bottled exclusively for Premier Wine & Spirits in Buffalo NY.
The colour is a reddish gold (slightly lighter than the Jack Daniel's I just reviewed). On the nose, orange peel, bananas, mint chocolate, caramel corn and…lychee?? This is extremely fruity, balanced with soft salt-and-pepper and vanilla. Quite herbal. This will sound weird, but when I add a drop or two of water, I get malted barley notes. Extremely complex and engaging.
On the palate, we get more caramel…and the oak comes into play. The high ABV provides some heat. More bourbon-y than expected. Stronger vanilla overcomes the fruit, to some degree. Water gives it a more syrupy mouthfeel; as with the nose, malt is added. Very nice, and drinkable, but doesn't quite live up to the nose.
The finish is chalky - here the rye becomes more noticeable, with burnt caramel lasting for quite some time. Well, there is little comparison to the Jack Daniel's expression I just tasted - this is far superior, with more fruitiness, complexity and punch. Delicious - and certainly the best Tennessee whiskey I've ever tasted - but it doesn't reach the stratospheric heights of the best bourbons available. But perhaps that is an unfair comparison.