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Cigar Spirits: George Dickel Barrel Select Tennessee Whisky

30 Jan 2014

It’s my contention that George Dickel is as underrated as Jack Daniels is iconic. That’s not a slight on either.  The two Tennessee whiskey brands are inextricably linked, but in all likelihood you’ve probably heard of Jack Daniels and not George Dickel, which might just be exactly how Dickel fans want it.

DickelBSBoth are more or less bourbon, but utilize the Lincoln County Process to filter the whiskey through charcoal. The result, according to both competitors, is a unique, smooth variety of American whiskey.

George Dickel Barrel Select is the top-of-the-line offering from Dickel ($35-40). In a whiskey world where “small batch” is pretty much a meaningless term, Barrel Select is a genuinely small batch product, with each batch consisting of just 10 barrels combined in each batch.

It’s bottled at 86-proof and, according to Dickel’s website, it’s aged between 10 and 12 years. It’s a medium amber hue with a nose that features tropical fruit, maple, and leather.

On the palate it has raw corn, roasted cashew, caramel, and wood. It has a slightly oily quality that reminds me of a Campbeltown single malts. The finish is clean with hints of wood along with maple and honey sweetness.

There’s a depth and sweetness to the Barrel Select that’s exceptional, even if it really makes me want to try the same Tennessee whisky at a higher proof (100- or 107-proof would be my ideal). Still, it’s a whisky that proves my contention that Dickel is under-appreciated, even if, at around $40, this may not be the best value of the Dickel line.

It has enough subtlety to call for a mild- to medium-bodied cigar pairing. I’d suggest a Macanudo Estate Reserve, Cuban H. Upmann, or E.P. Carrillo New Wave.

I can confidently recommend George Dickel to bourbon fans. In all honestly, you’ll probably want to start with the No. 8 or No. 12 varieties, which provide a fantastic price-to-value proposition, but don’t shy away from the Barrel Select, which is very smooth, flavorful, and highly underrated.

Patrick S

photo credit: George Dickel

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