Curated and Prompted by Greg Walters
Personally, I don't like bourbons over 15 years old; I've found between 10 and 12 to be optimum. But everyone's palate is unique. Checking into other reviews, and reading between the lines, words like 'woody', 'high char' and 'light' translate into "The offering carries heavy wood and char flavors that blow through the rather light ABV of 90."
Matching my experience to a 'T'. Also, having been baptized into the bourbon realm circa 2014, I've witnessed the great bourbon price increase and I am a staunch believer in a few aspects:
For me, the 18 year old is over priced. But Diageo will sell the entire inventory. I've scoured the realm for tasting input and reflection in order to present to you, dear reader, a quick review of this 18 year old dram.
This Tennessee bourbon spent close to two decades maturing in charred oak barrels, quietly aging in Dickel's single-story rickhouses nestled in the hills of Cascade Hollow near Tullahoma, Tennessee. Diverging from the typical Tennessee Whiskey tasting profile found in other George Dickel offerings, the 18-year expression is designed to cater more to bourbon aficionados by highlighting traditional bourbon tasting notes.
According to Nicole Austin, "Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years" aims to offer an approachable and balanced bourbon with complexity in flavor. It builds upon the craftsmanship of their mature whisky and presents something traditional yet premium. Austin emphasizes the rarity and beauty of this aged whiskey, which still manages to surprise with its brightness and complexity, a rarity among American whiskies of this age.
Where Does It Belong:
Considering the price, the best place to experience George Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years might be at a bar. If you can find a bar that offers a half-ounce pour, it's worth trying. This way, you can explore what Dickel thinks justifies this premium price.
Tasting Notes, as curated via multiple reviews:
But let's not just dwell on the price. How does it taste? The bourbon surprises in this department. The aroma is dominated by a rich oak profile, reminiscent of old basement and barn doors. However, there's a delightful mix of cinnamon candies and soft orange that adds depth to the experience.
Despite being labeled as a bourbon, it retains the dark maple candies, barrel char, and slight minerality found in Dickel's Tennessee whiskey, all while adding a touch of old furniture and leather. It's light at 90-proof, but the flavor is abundant. The finish is round and full, offering notes of butterscotch, black cherry, and baking spice.
Appearance: The bourbon exhibits an orange-amber hue in the glass. Its impressive legs and viscosity suggest a promising experience.
Nose: The aroma is a collection of bourbon notes, with hints of vanilla, oak, apricot, a touch of orange, and dark chocolate.
Palate: The palate offers a harmonious and well-balanced profile. It presents flavors of crème brulee, butterscotch, apricot, vanilla, orange, and subtle chocolate notes. Oak presence is restrained, and the finish, while relatively short and slightly sharp, ends on a pleasantly sweet note.
As a highly limited, small batch bourbon, Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years boasts a proof of 90 and is distilled from a mash bill consisting of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. It bears a price tag of $510 for a 700ml bottle.
A Nit to Pick:
One downside is the bottle size. It comes in a 700ml bottle, which is less than the standard 750ml you'd find in the U.S. This might explain some of the steep price. For those outside the U.S., this bourbon could be a rare find.
The Bigger Picture:
George Dickel's decision to release this bourbon at such a high price raises questions about the brand's strategy. While it's commendable to see Dickel embrace the super-premium bourbon trend, the sudden leap to unicorn-level pricing is a bit surprising.
The bourbon market is competitive, and the introduction of George Dickel Bourbon challenges consumers' perceptions of what makes a bourbon different from Tennessee whiskey.
Rare 18-year-old bourbons occupy an interesting pricing category, with some commanding exorbitant prices while others remain more reasonably priced. George Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years falls into the category of what an American whiskey with this age statement should taste like. Its price sits firmly in the middle range for bourbons of this age, making it a choice that depends on your whiskey budget.
The verdict? While it's adored, it doesn't quite receive a perfect score, mainly due to its impact on one's annual whiskey expenditure.
What's your take on George Dickel Bourbon Aged 18 Years? Have you tried it, or are you curious about its unique flavor profile? Share your thoughts and join the conversation.
The Debate Rolls On - Tennessee whiskey or Bourbon?
The ongoing debate about whether Tennessee whiskey qualifies as bourbon remains unsettled, and it's uncertain whether George Dickel Bourbon adds clarity to this discussion or further complicates it. The significance of this debate might vary for each individual when evaluating George Dickel Bourbon.
Tennessee whiskey producers often emphasize the Lincoln County Process, which involves charcoal mellowing, as the distinguishing factor separating Tennessee whiskey from bourbon. However, George Dickel Bourbon leans towards a milder flavor profile. It caters to those seeking a relaxed sipping experience that doesn't challenge the palate.
Yet, as an 8-year-old bourbon from a company renowned for its private selection releases in a similar age range and its Bottled in Bond offerings with double-digit aging, this release leaves some questions unanswered. If you're accustomed to the typical George Dickel flavor profile, this bourbon deviates significantly from it, sacrificing much of its distinctive character in the process.
Despite its attractive price point and evident age statement, George Dickel Bourbon may not offer much beyond these aspects.