After reviewing a staple Kentucky Bourbon in Old Forester 1870, we’ve set our sights on the neighboring spirit – Tennessee Whiskey. George Dickel is a staple Tennessee Whiskey, falling only behind Jack Daniel’s in cases sold. So, today we’re going to try out George Dickel Barrel Select. Liquor.com voted George Dickel Barrel Select as the best overall Tennessee Whiskey, and we’re going to find out if that’s the case or not.
In this review, we’re going to cover some of the history behind George Dickel, the basics of Tennessee Whiskey, and the tasting notes behind the Barrel Select expression.
George Dickel History
George Dickel was a business owner in Nashville during the 19th century. In 1870, he entered the whiskey business and made a name for himself by selling some of the best whiskey in the region. George Dickel & Co. was born.
A couple years later, the Cascade Hollow Distillery opened in 1878 and Dickel was able to purchase a large share of the distillery.
Present day, George Dickel and the distillery are owned by Diageo.
Cascade Hollow Distillery
Located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, the Cascade Hollow Distillery uses water from the cascade spring. The distillery is located south of Nashville and north of Lynchburg and is one of twenty-five distilleries that make up the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.
George Dickel is double distilled, chill filtered, and undergoes the Lincoln County Process. We’ll touch more on this shortly.
George Dickel Barrel Select Overview
- Spirit: Tennessee Whiskey, Small Batch
- Owned By: Diageo
- Distilled By: Cascade Hollow Distillery
- Aged: NAS, but reported 9-12 years.
- ABV: 43%, 86 proof
- Mashbill: 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malted barley
- Price: $45
Let’s just talk about some of the basics first. George Dickel Barrel Select is a NAS whiskey, meaning the bottle does not tell us the age of the whiskey. In order for an American whiskey to leave off an age statement, the whiskey must be a minimum of 4 years. However, a quick peak at their website tells us that the Barrel Select expression is aged for 9+ years.
The mashbill features 84% corn, so we’re definitely expecting a sweeter whiskey here. It’s also bottled at 86 proof which is definitely on the more tame side, especially for a $45 small batch whiskey. I know a lot of people, myself included, wouldn’t mind seeing it proofed a bit higher.
Now, let’s touch on some of the more technical aspects of George Dickel Barrel Select.
What is Tennessee Whiskey?
While Tennessee Whiskey is it’s own classification of whiskey, it’s essentially just bourbon but with an additional step. That step is known as the Lincoln County Process. The Lincoln County Process is a filtration process in which the whiskey is run through maple charcoal in order to remove any impurities and mellow the whiskey.
What is Chill Filtered Whiskey?
I also mentioned earlier that George Dickel Whisky is chill filtered. Before undergoing the Lincoln County Process, the whiskey is chilled to 40 degrees. George Dickel claims that they do this from a belief that the best whiskey is made during the winter.
Chill filtering whiskey is a controversial practice, though. While it keeps whiskey from getting hazy at cold temperatures and can be used to remove sediment, many distillers strictly and proudly avoid this. Chill filtration is believed to take away the richness and flavor of whiskey by stripping the fatty acids. You’ll see many whiskeys market their whiskey as ‘non-chilled filtered’ because of this.
What is Small Batch Whiskey?
In regards to whiskey, small batch means that a small number of barrels, often hand-picked as superior, are blended together. With George Dickel’s standard whiskey, they may blend 100+ or even 250+ barrels together to form a consistent flavor profile.
George Dickel Barrel Select is comprised of 10 hand picked barrels. ASs mentioned, these barrels are often picked out for their superiority in respect to the majority of barrels. Using a small number of barrels allows for more diverse and unique flavors, as well as a richer, deeper profile.
What Does Barrel Select Mean?
Barrel Select essentially will signify that a whiskey is small batch or single barrel. It’s really another way to say the barrels used for the whiskey were individually selected. Often times you’ll see whiskey labeled as single barrel select to signify that the whiskey is single barrel and not small batch.
George Dickel Barrel Select Tasting Notes
Okay, we’ve covered the history of George Dickel and all the basics of Tennessee Whiskey and small batch whiskey. Let’s get to the important piece of information. The stuff inside the bottle. Is George Dickel Barrel Select good? Is it worth $45?
Nose: Honey, candied fruits, licorice (twizzlers), mint, allspice, roasted corn. Coming back after taking a sip or two, I start to pick up on the banana.
Palate: More barrel spice than expected as well as some pepper. Roasted corn, banana taffy, more vanilla than honey on the palate, touch of mint. Plum is also a note that keeps popping up in the back of my mind. It’s not strong, but it’s there. Above average mouthfeel and viscosity.
Finish: More pepper than the nose let on and a touch of cinnamon. At 86 proof, it’s a fairly easy sipper. Dry oak, barrel char, and banana round things out. While it’s a little dry, it’s still able to coat my mouth quite nicely.
To say it plainly, I’m a fan. George Dickel Barrel Select is a very good Tennessee Whiskey.
The aroma was my least favorite part. It’s not bad, but it felt a little out of control. There were a different number of smells coming off the glass and it didn’t seem balanced. I was getting a lot of candied fruits and twizzlers for some reason. Those with honey, mint, and spice made for an interesting nosing.
On the palate, things were more simplified but also more rich and balanced. I was getting a lot of barrel spice and barrel char mixing in with the sweet corn. The candied fruit on the nose became a natural banana taffy flavor. Mint and plum rounded things out.
The finish was full of black pepper, but sizzled into a nice char and banana. A light cocoa and nutty note, too that came with the dry oak.
Overall, I was surprised by this whiskey. The palate and finish were much nicer than the nose led on which, for the record, is a much better way to do things than have the nose outshine the palate and finish.
For me, George Dickel Barrel Select is about as high value as it gets. This is, in part, because I don’t like a lot of Tennessee Whiskey. I really enjoyed Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, but it’s also $55. I’ve had numerous $30-something bottles of Tennessee Whiskey and none of them quite did it for me.
Uncle Nearest 1884 is a $45 bottle that I really enjoyed; however, I think I’d take George Dickel Barrel Select as my go-to Tennessee Whiskey… as of now.
Summary of George Dickel Barrel Select Review
George Dickel may get outsold by Jack Daniel’s by a couple million cases every year, but it’s still the 2nd most popular Tennessee Whiskey in the world. For good reason.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that Liquor.com had rated GD Barrel Select as the best overall Tennessee Whiskey. While they included any whiskey from Tennessee, I do think that George Dickel Barrel Select is among the best and highest value picks in this category.
I know a lot of people love Jack, but there’s also a lot that find it to be highly overrated. If you’re in that group, look no further than George Dickel Barrel Select. It’ll cost you a bit more, but it’s worth it.
How old is George Dickel Barrel Select
George Dickel Barrel Select is aged 9+ years. Most report it as 9-12 years, but 9 years is the minimum age of any whiskey that goes into their Barrel Select expression.
What Does Barrel Select Mean?
When a whiskey is labeled as ‘Barrel Select’, that means that the barrels used in production are hand selected by master distillers or master blenders for their quality and individual flavors. You’ll see both small batch and single barrel expressions with the barrel select label.
What is the alcohol content of George Dickel Barrel Select?
George Dickel Barrel Select is bottled at 86 proof, so it is 43% ABV (alcohol by volume)