Color: pale amber
Nose: sweet corn, vanilla, butterscotch
Taste: sweet corn, mild smoke, mild vanilla, cocoa, almond, tobacco
Falling back into my regular pattern of I’ve-had-it-but-not-yet-reviewed-it, I’ve had Dickel Bourbon and Dickel Barrel Select Sour Mash, and the No. 8, but never the “Superior No. 12” sour mash. You know, the sort of stuff you can find at your local liquor shop for under $28. Well, this is that.
Right out of the gate, George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash No. 12 is much more polite than that other stuff that calls itself sour mash… you know… that stuff that comes in the rectangular bottle with the black label. By polite, I mean that it doesn’t slap you hard in the face if you go in for a sniff. Bonus for me, the scent doesn’t make me dry heave.
Make no mistake, I like sour mash. The Lincoln County Process all but guarantees a mild hit of smoke; and I like a touch of smokiness. Leopold Bros. make a great sour mash… that I still haven’t reviewed.
Let’s talk about me not mincing anymore words:
George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky is proper after-a-hard-day’s-work whiskey.
Now, I’m sipping the “Superior No. 12 Recipe” which says “Chill Filtered” and “Small Batch” on the label. So, if it’s chill filtered, is it also charcoal filtered? Or is it just chill filtered and they burned the heck out of the barrels it’s aged in? Either way, that charcoal comes through as a mild cocoa and mild smoke note on the palate, but not so much of either on the nose.
Speaking of the nose: The scent of sweet corn and vanilla will greet you when you go in for a whiff. And, I hate using the term butterscotch… shouldn’t all whiskey have that kind of scent? But, here’s true. I’ll break it down: think caramelized brown sugar and butter. Sweet, complex, and creamy. And that’s just the nose.
As noted, the wifey and I get cocoa and smoke on the palate. But there is way more going on here if you employ the Whiskey Chew. Barrel notes come through as vanilla, blanched almonds, and tobacco. There’s also a nice acidic bite: wifey says ginger; I say citrus peel. Either way, that acidic bite is the start of the finish.
And the finish is long warm ride of sweet corn, that acidic bite, and lingering tobacco.
This is a whiskey that wants you to sip it slowly.
Straight up will grant you all of the fantastic scents and flavors I’ve described. Water mellows out everything. An ice cube kills it. I suppose if you’ve had a REALLY long day at work and just want the effects without the taste, you could go with an ice cube. But all the complexity Dickel Sour Mash No. 12 has to offer is lost easily.
I’m not sure if I’d make a cocktail out of this one. Happily, it does NOT get lost in a Lynchburg Lemonade. The lemonade amps up that acidic bite and smoke still pokes out a touch.
It’s tough for me to want more out this bottle because it delivers on everything I want an American Whiskey to hit: sweetness, vanilla, some barrel complexity. Sure, it replaces caramel with butterscotch, but that’s a minor quibble. But it is lacking.
No. 12 isn’t as smooth as I’d hope for. I mean, their No. 8 is definitely the rough-and-tumble little brother in this family, but at the price point, I expected a touch more smoothness.
Would I drink this stuff if someone set the bottle in front me? Absolutely.
Would I order it at a bar? Sure… but the whole bottle.
Final Rating: 88 out of 100