Tennessee Whiskey

Whiskey Review: George Dickel No. 12 Sour Mash Tennessee Whisky

Born early in the 19th century, 40 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence George A. Dickel was an established Nashville merchant when he entered the whisky business. Dickel grew his reputation for selling the smoothest, most mellow spirits in the region. Geo. A. Dickel & Co. was born and when the Cascade Hollow Distillery opened in 1878 when George Dickel bought a large share. George Dickel followed in the Scottish tradition of spelling whisky without an “e.”

Today the brand is owned by Diageo, a multi-national company based in London, England. The company maintains over 130 sites around the world. Their leading brands include, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, Baileys liqueur, Captain Morgan rum , Tanqueray and Gordon’s gin and Bulleit bourbon.

According to the bottle, “Our Superior No. 12 Recipe has a rich depth of flavor perfectly balanced with the signature smooth finish of George Dickel. The rich flavors of Superior No. 12 Recipe come from resting our whisky in Oak barrels for years and by chilling our whisky before filtering it through sugar-maple charcoal. In this smooth finishing, 90 proof whisky, you’ll find flavors rich oak and subtle vanilla with hints of sweetness and smoke. Around here we like to say, there ain’t nothin’ better.”

Is George Dickel a Bourbon?

Technically speaking this meets the qualifications of a bourbon, however Dickel opts not to use that classification. The company opts for a Tennessee Whisky designation in recognition of their use of traditional charcoal filtration techniques.

What is Sour Mash?

A sour mash is made by taking a portion of previously used mash and adding it to a fresh batch. The process can be compared to using a sourdough starter when making bread. The difference being that the sour mash used in bourbon is made from dead Yeest.  The process helps ensures consistency from batch to batch, and also  lowers the pH of the batch, leading to more efficient fermentation.

Whisky Review: George Dickel No. 12 Sour Mash Tennessee Whisky
45% (90 Proof)
Not Disclosed
Dark Amber
Mash Bill: 
84% Corn, 8% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
Distilled By:  
Cascade Hollow Distillery
Tullahoma, Tennessee (USA)

The Nose: Vanilla bean is instantly identifiable from the first sniff with some corn on the finish. Subsequent wafts from my glass reveals oak and a subtle floral component.

The Taste: While producing a nice oily mouth feel the Dickel No. 12 is a bit short on flavor. There are notes of oak, red pepper, black pepper and a subtle cola nut. However, the libation has a dominant acidic component that lingers on the finish.

The Pairing: I opted to pair this with a HVC Black Friday 2022. I opted for this limited edition due to the sweetness of it hoping it would bring something special out of the bourbon and perhaps cancels out some of the acidity. Using the puff first method the bourbon opens up a bit with otes of vanilla, apricots and berries. However, the welcomed sweetness is short lived as the acidic component remains. As always our pairing doesn’t affect our final score but if it did this would add 4 extra points.

The Finish: A relatively inexpensive bourbon has some decent underlying flavors, but the acidic finish that is overly long really prevents the bourbon from being enjoyable on the long term. As I conclude my review I can’t help but think of apple cider vinegar and that isn’t what I am looking for when I want to enjoy myself with a beverage.

Score: 76
Price: $24.99 (750 ml)

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