George Dickel Barrel Select (43% ABV / 86 Proof, $45.99) – One of the things that’s important when buying a premium whiskey is to get something you are going to actually drink and enjoy. Many of the higher end whiskeys are monsters with proofs and flavors that just aren’t pleasing to the average, everyday drinker. George Dickel Barrel Select is a perfect middle ground, a premium whiskey that has a ton of flavor delivered in a way that’s much more approachable than many high end whiskeys. George Dickel uses the same signature sugar maple charcoal filtering that all Tennessee whiskeys must use before aging, but somehow seems to maintain much more of its character and flavor than its Tennessee brother Jack Daniels. George Dickel Barrel Select has no age statement, but it contains whiskey aged 10-12 years. Each bottle comes from a group of barrels personally selected from George Dickel distiller John Lunn.
The nose on George Dickel Barrel Select is oak forward, much more than any other Tennessee whiskey we’ve tried. The oak here has a nice smoky char quality to it, which could be a reflection of both the barrel it was aged in and the sugar maple charcoal that it was filtered through. Underneath the spicy, smoky oak is soft, light vanilla as well as a slightly nutty undertone. The entry is a lot less spicy than the nose would suggest, with a lush and round mouthfeel. Thick vanilla and caramel balance the spicy wood tones perfectly. The oak spice does increase in the midpalate where it’s met with clove and black pepper. The finish is medium length with a lot of the flavor of the midpalate leading to a pleasantly dry and fairly clean conclusion.
George Dickel Barrel Select does a great job of maintaing balance. The soft, sweet tones of the entry and lush mouthfeel are well counterbalanced by the oak space with a finish that really completes the journey from soft and sweet to spicy and dry. George Dickel Barrel Select takes everything that we love about Tennessee whiskey and delivers it in a way that will impress even the category’s harshest critics. It’s great whiskey.