Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as free samples to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
Are big brands the enemy? You don’t even have to be a drinker to ask yourself that question. Amazon or a local bookstore? Best Buy or Tony’s Televisions? Ikea or custom cabinets? We like to hate on biggies, but the truth is this: They are big for a reason. And many of them do a lot of things right. George Dickel Rye is a perfect example.
Part of the Diageo family of brands, George Dickel Rye is distilled by Midwestern Grain Products (MGP), based out of Indiana. MGP creates a mash bill of 95 percent rye and 5 percent barley, which is aged and blended to create whiskies including Bulleit (another Diageo brand) as well as other ryes such as Templeton and Willett.
Also, the Dickel doesn’t try to pretend their stock doesn’t originate from MGP or cover it in unctuous marketing language like some big (or even small!) producers. Much like that other famous George, they cannot lie: On the very front of the bottle it says, “Charcoal mellowed by George A. Dickle & Co.” I appreciated that.
The Dickel difference is the amount of time aged (five years) and their filtration process: George Dickel Rye is chilled and filtered through charcoal made of sugar maple wood. The goal of this is to produce a smooth taste.
So, does it work? Well, it’s bottled at 45 percent alcohol (90 proof), and would be just fine in a cocktail. And yet: You could drink it on its own and nary a grimace would steal across your beautiful mug.
Tasting Notes: George Dickel Rye
Appearance: It is light gold, like the color of sand on a west-facing beach during a mellow, slightly cloudy sunset.
Nose: It’s quite grassy, with some nuttiness and subtle caramel corn behind that. I also get kind of a herbal tea smell–kind of soothing, actually…
Palate: That smoothness they’re going for comes through on the palate, both at the start and finish. It has some fruity notes — I detect some cherry, which I’m surprised about for a rye. In fact, it’s not quite as reminiscent of the black peppercorn taste as some other ryes I’ve tried: it’s almost a little bourbon-like. Odd, right? But it works.
Finish: The Dickel’s sweet aroma doesn’t stay around for the taste, however. It finishes savory, a bit fiery on the way down. It makes the tip of my tongue burn, just a little, in the way that other ryes don’t. This isn’t entirely unpleasant.
The Dickel Rye is also phenomenally well-priced, coming in at around $23 for 750 ml. I’d definitely keep a bottle of this behind my bar, and at easy reach even with that.
FINAL SCORE: 83/100
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A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor...