Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The world of whiskey is filled with many names and many stories. These stories often focus on the family lineage, but occasionally these stories focus on the business. In the case of George Dickel it is all about a business man and the brand he built using the Cascade Hollow Distillery. I’ll get more into that shortly, but what you are really here for is the George Dickel 17 Year Old Reserve Tennessee Whisky, a fine bottle produced by Nicole Austin.
The history of George Dickel is well laid out in the public whiskey light already. He started out as a grocer, purchasing whiskey from various distilleries to sell in his store. He then founded George Dickel and Company and moved into liquor wholesale. It’s important to note that Dickel is never credited as a distiller through this history. They sourced whiskey from Cascade Hollow – the recipe of George Dickel Whisky (George Dickel uses the Scottish spelling) is credited to McLin Davis, who became involved at Cascade Hollow in 1883. At this point in time it was known as Cascade Whisky, with a tagline of “Mellow as Moonlight”.
Tennessee entered prohibition in 1910, ahead of the country as a whole. This forced the relocation of the Cascade Hollow operation to the Stitzel distillery in Kentucky. Stitzel also had to close 10 years later. The brand, which had already changed owners several times over the years, was sold off again after the end of prohibition. The new owner is said to have found the original recipe through previous distillers and operated out of the OFC distillery for a time before re-establishing Cascade Hollow about one mile from its previous location.
Dickel and Cascade Hollow are now owned by Diageo and run by Nicole Austin. Trained as a chemical engineer, Austin became the General Manager and Master Distiller for Cascade Hollow Distillery in 2018. Her approach to whiskey is one I support. With a mindset of not wanting bottles to sit on shelves collecting dust, she looks to make quality products at affordable price points, all while staying transparent about what is in the bottle.
George Dickel 17 Year Old Reserve is a Tennessee whiskey. This is bottled at cask strength with an ABV of 46%. The bottle mentions this is “charcoal mellowed,” the process is done after distillation and before aging to further filter the distillate without removing any of the character that develops in the aging process. It uses the classic George Dickel mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley.
We review George Dickel 17 Year Old Reserve, an older bottling in the popular George Dickel line of Tennessee whiskeys. (image via Ian Arnold/The Whiskey Wash)
Vital Stats: Bottled at 46% ABV. Made with 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. Suggested retail price of $250 per 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is a lovely amber color with hints of copper. It really coats the glass.
Nose: This smells like baked apricot with cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel.
Palate: Honey, caramel, and vanilla up front. Mid palate has the spice come in with just a touch of tropical fruit. Finish is peppery with subtle oak, toffee, and this kind of black tea tannin. Addition of water has the flavors mingling a bit more while mellowing the spice. It makes me think of sticky buns.
Whiskey Review: George Dickel 17 Year Old Reserve
Another exceptional release from Nicole Austin. This is an excellent Tennessee whiskey with enough complexity to keep me interested in it while still having the mellow quality one might expect from the category. I would struggle to think anyone that enjoys Tennessee whiskey would find issue with this bottle. The price point certainly puts it out of range of approachable, but is very reasonable for a 17 year old age statement.
Ian Arnold was a bartender for 8 years. Having worked in California, Australia, and Portland, he last bartended at the Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library. He was part of the Oregon Bartenders' Guild's leadership and was a judge for multiple cocktail competitions. He now works in the IT field and continues to...