Browsed by
Tag: tasting notes

Pikesville Rye and Rittenhouse Rye: Review and Tasting Notes

Pikesville Rye and Rittenhouse Rye: Review and Tasting Notes

 

Here’s the big news first – Heaven Hill has a new rye whiskey out that’s essentially an older, higher proof version of the beloved Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond. This new one is six years old (at least) and 110 proof, rather than four years old and 100 proof. Wow, what’s not to love about that? Heaven Hill has time and time again put their amazing bank of great, aged whiskey to excellent use, and there’s no reason to think this won’t be another home run along the lines of the their Elijah Craig barrel proof releases.

DSC_1129Where this gets a bit confusing, though, is with the label. This new rye is not a Rittenhouse – rather, it is called Pikesville. Pikesville is also the name used on a younger (three year), lower proof (80), regional rye brand from Heaven Hill. Both of these Pikesville whiskeys share roots going back to a Maryland brand that originated way back in the 1890’s and was acquired by Heaven Hill in 1982. Neither of these Pikesville whiskeys should have anything to do with Rittenhouse Rye. But they do. Got all that?

Heaven Hill is careful to make clear that they produce Pikesville in Kentucky. And remember how I said this was essentially an older, higher proof Rittenhouse? Sure enough, Heaven Hill has confirmed that Pikesville (a self-proclaimed Maryland-style rye) and Rittenhouse (a self-proclaimed Pennsylvania-style rye) are indeed the same mash bill (51% rye, 39% corn, 10% malted barley). So it goes… as long as they taste good, who am I to quibble with the distinctions between a Maryland-style and Pennsylvania-style when they’re both actually made in Kentucky and are essentially siblings of each other?

The new Pikesville rye has started rolling out in select markets, and will be seeing national distribution this fall. Rather than just taste it on its own, I decided to do a side by side with the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond. While Rittenhouse doesn’t carry an age statement, word is that it’s basically four year old whiskey, so the Pikesville has roughly two years of extra time in the barrel on it. Heaven Hill has also said that Pikesville’s barrels have been carefully chosen from a more specific section of the rick houses than what Rittenhouse is pulling from. So here we go – a four year old, Pennsylvania-style rye and six year old Maryland-style rye, both made in Kentucky – head to head.

DSC_1136Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
100 Proof, Approx. $24 Retail
Tasting Dates: June 15 – July 17, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Good Stuff 

First off, I want to point out that this is the Rittenhouse that was distilled by Heaven Hill (D.S.P. KY 1 for all you whiskey geeks) – not the older version that was distilled by Brown-Forman. Rittenhouse has long been a favorite for rye-based cocktails, especially when you can find one for $20 (it has crept up to the mid-$20s in most retailers).

On the nose, there’s some honey and butterscotch, but it’s buried beneath green wood, a cinnamon edge, a hint of vanilla. Neat, you get a rush of heat, then some dark brown sugar, a bit of rum raisin, dark cocoa powder, assertive rye spice, and a rich syrupy (but tingly) finish. This is no minty/super-herbal rye – it wears it’s hefty corn presence prominently and wears it well. A cube of ice rounds out the Rittenhouse nicely and helps balance the spicy edge and the dark, sweet core. But really, this rye is on the beast-end of the spectrum – it’s a bit too powerful for its own good when drinking neat, but works wonders when paired with lighter ingredients in cocktails like a Manhattan.

DSC_1131Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
110 Proof, Approx. $50 Retail
Tasting Dates: June 15 – July 17, 2015
Thirsty South Rating: Excellent 

The color here vs. the Rittenhouse is quite similar, maybe a bit darker for the Pikesville, but both a pleasing copper hue. Dang, right away on the nose, you get a lot more nuance, a lot more character, a lot more… intrigue. Despite the higher proof, the nose comes across more integrated, less heat. There are waves of honey and brown sugar and vanilla – typical bourbon notes – but the rye presence keeps the sweetness in check, weaving in and out with subdued floral notes, warm cedar wood, dark cocoa-coated almonds (funny enough, I’ve gotten a similar note from the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof – is there something going on in those Heaven Hill barrels?).

Sipped neat, the Pikesville continues to show the benefits of those two years in the barrel. The spice level perks up – sharp jabs of nutmeg and clove and cinnamon, again the warm wood, and those cocoa-coated almonds playing out over a long warm finish. Over ice, even nicer, still sharp. A touch of water also helps bring out the depths of flavor. You do get the commonalities with the Rittenhouse (Maryland vs. Pennsylvania, be damned) – and, again, this is clearly not a rye of the heavy-mint/dill variety.

Verdict: So the extra few years and 10 points of proof on the Pikesville are indeed beneficial. I’m still more likely to use Pikesville for a Manhattan than to sip neat, which makes it a pricey option to amp up a drink, but whether in a cocktail or sipping over ice, Pikesville offers a solid upgrade over the already-very-solid Rittenhouse Rye. The Maryland vs. Pennsylvania semantics don’t bother me at all – they’re both good drinks, made by a good distiller, and competitively priced. I’m betting the Pikesville will not be an easy one to track down, so if you do see a bottle and you’re a rye fan, do give it a shot.

DSC_1124

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

Full Disclosure: Tasting sample of Pikesville provided by Heaven Hill.

DSC_1127

Whiskey, Stories, and the Truth: Review of Tin Cup and Clyde May’s

Whiskey, Stories, and the Truth: Review of Tin Cup and Clyde May’s

IMG_9351Whiskey drinkers today are interested in lots of things – good whiskey, of course, but also good stories. And also the truth. Finding good whiskey is actually pretty easy, despite certain labels being practically impossible to procure. Finding good stories? That’s easy too – historical figures, prohibition-era recipes, tales of lost this and discovered that, promises of the most locally-sourced ingredients – the stories take many forms. What seems to be in somewhat short supply though is the truth.

A lot of this comes from the fact that there are so many labels that don’t actually distill anything trying to make you think they do. Go google what’s been going on with Templeton Rye, for instance, and you’ll see that a story that was once a good one (small town! Al Capone! secret recipe!) has been found to be lacking in the truth (mistruths! manipulation! confusion!). And a whiskey that was once thought to be a good one is increasingly being dismissed as a fraud (and a flavored fraud at that). I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t have to make up stories to sell something, a world in which they could rely on a good product and the truth. And maybe we do live in that world, or at least one that’s moving in that direction – since as people get more into whiskey and start to learn about who’s making it and how and why, they get a greater appreciation for the authentic. And thanks to social media and whiskey blogs and our never-ending access to looking things up, those whiskey hawkers that blatantly make up stories are increasingly caught in the act (thank you, internet).

At Templeton, the truth seems to have caught up with the folks who have been spinning tales. They’re being sued, whiskey geeks are trouncing the brand, and I would bet that their sales are taking at least a small hit because of it. Which brings me to a few bottles of new-ish whiskey that have been sitting on my desk for a few months now.

One is an “Alabama style” whiskey, called Clyde May’s, and the other is an “American” whiskey, called Tin Cup, bottled in Denver and made with pure Rocky Mountain water. They both have stories to tell, that’s for sure. They’re both decent whiskeys, at least I think so. And they both walk the the line where insinuation and deception intermingle. Let me be clear, I don’t think either of them are telling falsehoods – but they both play with the truth in their own ways in an attempt to tell a compelling story.

Tin Cup Colorado Whiskey Let’s look at Tin Cup first. On the bottle, in big bold letters, you get “Tin Cup, Colorado” and “Made with Pure Rocky Mountain Water.” Smaller is the “bottled in Denver, CO by Tin Cup Whiskey.” Nowhere is a “distilled in…” or “distilled by…” message, which is your first indication that something shady could be going on. On the hang tag, “Colorado” is the biggest word and dramatic mountain scenery is the background. You also get a photo of Jess Graber, founder of Tin Cup, who “picked up his bags and moved to Colorado in hopes of finding himself and inspiration… fell in love with the mountains and discovered his passion for distilling… and Colorado’s Tin Cup whiskey was born.” Inside, Jess tells us he “made Tin Cup in honor of Colorado’s first whiskey drinkers,” and that, “Tin Cup is distilled from a blend of corn, rye and malt barley, cut with pure Colorado Rocky Mountain water.”

Tin Cup Colorado Whiskey On the Tin Cup website, you get more. It says, “Hello, I’m Jess Graber. I make whiskey… I began distilling in 1972… distilling became my full time work… (and) Tin Cup is my newest whiskey.” It goes on to say, “Let me explain how whiskey gets made here.” Let me repeat that… “whiskey“… “gets made“… “here.” Clearly they want you to know that Jess Graber is distilling this whiskey himself, right there in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado, right? Of course, they do. But he doesn’t, and they don’t.

There’s a “what’s in Tin Cup” section on the site that never says a thing to lead you to believe the whiskey is distilled anywhere other than Colorado. There’s a “Can I visit the distillery” section that does the same – leading one to believe that even though you can’t visit their distillery, there IS a distillery churning out Tin Cup whiskey somewhere in Denver. After all, Jess Graber helped found Stranahan’s, which DOES actually distill there.

Now, I must say that while the bottle and the website are clearly trying to pull the wool over your eyes and have you believe that this is whiskey fully distilled and made by Jess Graber in Colorado, Graber has been completely up front in interviews that they source the whiskey from MGPI (formerly known as LDI), which is the source for what seems like half the bottles of bourbon and rye on the shelves these days. So while I applaud Graber for being honest when asked, I sure wish their bottle and website were honest, period. Oh, and the bottle comes topped with a nifty tin cup you can drink from. Wouldn’t you know… it leaks!

Clyde May's Alabama Whiskey Now, on to Clyde May’s. This is an unusual beast for sure. Alabama Style Whiskey. On the bottle, there’s a very clear “distilled in Kentucky” line on the side, and a “bottled by Conecuh Ridge Distillery, Auburndale, FL” as well. So we have an Alabama-inspired product, distilled in Kentucky, bottled in Florida. There’s a “since 1946” on the label, which is clearly a bit murky given that the whiskey has gone through many iterations of actual makeup, owner, and legality over the past many decades. There’s also a note that, “hints of green apple and cinnamon not only make it smoother than others – they’re what make it Alabama Style.” Which could lead you to believe that it just tastes like apples and cinnamon, or that they put actual apples and cinnamon in with the whiskey, or that they flavor the whiskey to give it hints of green apple and cinnamon. What do you think is the truth? The website helps a little, stating that “Clyde added oven-dried apples to his barrels. The resulting hints of green apple and cinnamon not only made it smoother than other whiskeys—they’re what made it Alabama Style. Today, we honor Clyde’s legacy with a blend of 5 & 6 year old bourbon, handcrafted in small batches and finished in that Alabama Style.” Based on that, I was thinking that maybe they use oven-dried apples today as Clyde May once did – but their representative tells me, when I ask, that it’s just flavoring.

I like Clyde’s story, I like the relative transparency on the fact that this is distilled in Kentucky (likely by KBD) and bottled in Florida, and that they are at least mentioning the age of the bourbon on the website. I do wish they’d clear up the flavoring thing, though, and be more upfront about what’s really in that bottle that makes it “Alabama style.”

On to the (very quick) reviews:

Tin Cup Colorado Whiskey Tin Cup American Whiskey
84 Proof, Approx. $35 retail
Rating: Good Stuff*
Smooth, nicely balanced with a good dose of rye in the mix. High rye fans out there will enjoy this for sure. Very nice sipping neat. Simply put, I dig the whiskey, but not the marketing. Maybe Jess Graber can get his folks to do something about the messaging on the bottle and on the website (and keep on bottling the good honest whiskey, but in a more honest way).

Clyde May's Alabama WhiskeyClyde May’s Conecuh Ridge
Alabama Style Whiskey

85 Proof, Approx. $30 retail
Rating: Fair*
You get green apple right off the bat on the nose, quite prominently. Sipping neat, though, this stings a bit for 85 proof and feels a bit off. I actually wouldn’t mind if the apple were more up front here (like it is on the nose). If you’re gonna do apple flavored whiskey, you may as well go big and DO APPLE FLAVORED WHISKEY! This should work just fine in cocktails or, heck, with some apple juice over ice.

In fact, here’s a simple cider and whiskey recipe shared by Clyde May’s, to let you dial up the cinnamon spice and apples on your own:

Alabama Whiskey Cider
1.5 oz. Clyde May’s Whiskey
3 oz. apple cider
1 orange, sliced
Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg to taste
Combine apple cider, sliced orange and the spices of your choice (we suggest allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon) in a medium-sized pot. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs and add in Clyde May’s Whiskey. Stir well and serve warm.

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:
Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck
Full Disclosure: Tasting samples provided.

IMG_9356

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2014: Review and Tasting Notes

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2014: Review and Tasting Notes

oldforesterAnother year, another “birthday bourbon” from Old Forester, a brand that still seems to be a bit under the radar (an increasingly rare thing). Chris Morris, Brown-Forman’s Master Distiller wants you to know, “Old Forester is the only bourbon still in existence today that was produced before, during and after Prohibition by its original distiller.” And now you know.

This is their thirteenth annual limited release, celebrating founder George Garvin Brown’s September 2 birthday. Last year’s version had a phenomenal nose, but the rest didn’t quite live up to the lovely aromas. This year? Same idea on what’s in the bottle, all distilled on one day 12 years ago. Similar proof (down from 98 to 97). A slight bump up from $55 to $60 recommended retail price.

old forester birthday bourbonOld Forester Birthday Bourbon, 2014 Limited Bottling
97 Proof
Approx. $60 Retail
Tasting Dates: October 1 -10, 2014

The color looks a bit lighter to me than last year, more golden. The nose is similar to last year’s, though not as noteworthy in its richness, and maybe a touch less balance than last year as it leans a little hot. Toasty oak, caramel, vanilla, and some peachy fruit. There is a bit of maple here, but not much in the way of cinnamon/spice.

Neat, there’s a woodiness to this one at first, a bit dusty, and the cinnamon comes in pretty quick and lingers long. Last year it brought to mind the cinnamon-dusted, candied almonds that they sell at ballparks or street festivals – and this year I think the cinnamon is even more intense (despite not being very present on the nose). Again, nice stuff overall, but it still feels a bit off balance and slightly harsh, for a 12 year old bourbon under 100 proof.

Ice brings out the brown sugar in the nose in a very nice way, and accentuates the peachiness as well, with some bitter orange mixed in. It does indeed make for a more lush feeling while sipping, but still not as harmonious as I’d like it to be until it starts to approach watery. There’s a fine line here where the ice and bourbon reach the perfect equilibrium, but it’s fleeting.

Thirsty South Rating: Good Stuff* – it’s a very nice way to celebrate a birthday, but not a party I’d go out of my way for. I like the fact that Old Forester keeps turning out these limited releases, but wouldn’t mind seeing them play around with the age and proof  a bit to seek out something that stands out from the pack a bit more.

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

Full Disclosure: Tasting sample provided by Brown-Forman.

2014 Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey

2014 Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey

DSC_0070

Heaven Hill’s annual Parker’s Heritage Collection limited release is like a box of boozy chocolate… you never know what you’re gonna get. Last year, it was just a lovely selection of ten year old bourbon with that prototypical Elijah Craig profile. Before that, you could find an 11 year old cask strength small batch, a 27 ! year old, a cognac-finished… you get the idea. Box of chocolates. This year, the eighth version of the collection, we get a thirteen year old wheat whiskey. Not a wheated whiskey (a la Pappy Van Winkle or Weller or Larceny, which use wheat in place of rye as a minor contributor behind the dominant corn in the mash bill), but a wheat whiskey (a la Bernheim, which is among the very few American whiskeys that use wheat as the primary ingredient).

In fact, this Parker’s Heritage Collection release is a whole lot like Bernheim – as it comes from the very first run of the wheat whiskey that would later be bottled as Bernheim (which was first sold in 2005). This limited edition, though, is almost twice as old as regular Bernheim (which just recently added a 7 year old age statement to the bottle), plus comes to us non chill-filtered and cask strength – which is an approach that has served Heaven Hill well with their barrel proof version of Elijah Craig. The mash bill is reportedly 51% soft winter wheat, and there are actually two different batches being sold as part of the release, one at 127 proof, the other TBD. And for you detail-obsessed whiskey geeks, it was aged on the top floors of Heaven Hill’s Rickhouse Y in Bardstown. On to the notes.

Parker's Heritage Collection 2014 Wheat Whiskey Parker’s Heritage Collection, 2014, Original Batch Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey
127.4 Proof
Approx. $90 Retail ($5 goes to Heaven Hill’s efforts to support ALS research)
Tasting Dates: September 10 – 15,  2014
Thirsty South Rating: WOW*

The color? Deep amber, surely due to those years at the upper reaches of rickhouse Y (the higher up, the higher the temperature swings, and the more interaction the bourbon gets with the wood).

The nose? Toasty oak is quite prominent, in a very nice way. There’s a good jolt of Bit-O-Honey, with dark caramel and vanilla also coming on pretty strong. I also get a plum and dark berry fruitiness to it, that leads into hints of an oaky cabernet, even some Chateauneuf de Pape. Intriguing stuff. A touch of water softens the sweetness and amps up the warm oak, plus brings out  a background buzz of herbal spiciness that seems almost rye-like (crazy, I wouldn’t expect it from wheat, but there it is).
Parker's Heritage Collection 2014 Wheat Whiskey Label
Neat… as expected… this is really strong, but in a pleasing way. Tingly and soft at once, with a long cinnamon spice finish. The high proof works, and you can slowly sip this without fear. But a bit of water brings out the sweet depths in this whiskey and accentuates the nice balance between the many elements at play, with enough dark caramel and honey to please any bourbon fan for sure. The time in the barrel has rendered this far richer than many may expect from a wheat whiskey (regular Bernheim is known for being on the lighter side).

Parker's Heritage Collection 2014 Wheat Whiskey LabelEven better than adding a touch of water, a single ice cube works some magic here as it slowly cools and dissolves into the whiskey. The texture becomes thicker, lightly syrupy even, and the whiskey performs a tremendous tightrope walk of wood and spice and sweetness and grain and heat. I just want to chew and chew on it, and the long slow finish keeps you coming back for more. It gets more delicate, lightly floral, smoother and even chewier as the ice seeps into it, never reaching the point of being too watery. And as the ice settles in, it skirts into a more Scotch-like territory, with prominent grain notes coming forward  (as in a lighter, more floral and fruity Scotch, nothing smoky or peaty here). The cooled down finish carries mellow and warm grain plus tinges of cinnamon red hots at the end.

After enjoying the glass with an ice cube, I go back to a neat sip and that Bit-O-Honey pops out strong again. The range of expression here is crazy and fascinating. This is a drink well worthy of exploration.

There’s a good chance my love of this will be an outlier vs. others’ opinions. Is a thirteen year old barrel proof wheat whiskey going to be everyone’s cup of tea? No. Actually, I doubt anyone out there has ever tasted a thirteen year old barrel proof wheat whiskey. But this is remarkable and interesting stuff for any whiskey fan. And entirely unique. The extra age and the extra proof give this wheat whiskey an intriguing combination of wood and grain. Parker’s Heritage Collection has turned out a real winner here – something different, something stellar. Highly recommended if you can find a bottle, and the $90 recommended price is not bad at all for whiskey of this caliber.

DSC_0085

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:
Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck
Full Disclosure: Tasting sample provided by Heaven Hill.
The Youngster and the Elder: Dickel White Corn Whisky No. 1 and Barrel Select Tennessee Whisky

The Youngster and the Elder: Dickel White Corn Whisky No. 1 and Barrel Select Tennessee Whisky

Dickel White Corn Whisky

One is young and clear as glass. One is old(er) and soft tan leather. Both are Dickel Whisky. When the fine folks from George Dickel offered to share a sample of their new “White No. 1 Corn Whisky,” I asked that they (please) also send along a sample of their roughly ten year old Dickel Barrel Select so I could compare the two side by side. I’ve long been a fan of Dickel – especially after visiting their bucolic distillery in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee. And I like the fact that they tend to do things a little differently than most others out there – like calling their whiskey “whisky,” or actually doing something unique (charcoal filtering) with the sourced rye from Indiana that so many others are just bottling and branding as their own.

Like the Dickel rye, the Dickel White No. 1 also gets the Dickel charcoal treatment, setting it apart from other white whiskeys (AKA moonshine), at least in some small way. And the Dickel White No. 1 is the exact same stuff that ends up in Dickel No. 8 and Dickel No. 12 and the Dickel Barrel Select. There’s one whisky mashbill being made in Cascade Hollow – 84% corn, 8% rye and 8% barley – and that’s what ends up in all the Dickel bottles except for that “Dickel” rye. (In case you weren’t counting, that’s nine Dickels so far in this paragraph. Make that ten.)

You know what else is different about the Dickel White No. 1? It’s 91 proof, vs. the  80 proof that shows up in other big brand white whiskey (see Jim Beam’s Jacob’s Ghost). Also, it’s priced rather well at $22, vs. other ridiculously premium-priced unaged whiskey  out there (see Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye – $50!???) .

So, how does the Dickel White No. 1 taste? Can you actually see the family resemblance between this youngster and its elder, the Barrel Select? On with the tasting notes and review.

Dickel White Whisky

George Dickel White Corn Whisky No. 1
91 Proof
Approx. $22 Retail
Tasting Dates: February 10-18, 2014
Thirsty South Rating: Good Stuff*

Like I said, this stuff is clear as glass, though clearly thicker than water. The nose is clean, but packs a ton of grain – you get the popcorn first, then a Sugar Smacks cereal rush, with a toasty malt depth in the background and an elusive bit of green corn silk and husk. It’s actually quite nice, though a far departure from the sweet heat that this will turn to after years in a barrel.

Sipping neat, the corn/grain character continues, with some alcohol heat building through a long, lip-tingly finish. It makes for pleasant sipping, though I think it may be better served as the basis for creative cocktail making. Ice brings out some lush thickness in the whisky, but also seems to bring out a bit of that charcoal effect. It’s darn good for a white whiskey, and if I were more of a fan of white whiskey in general, I’d probably rate this higher – I just prefer the older stuff.

Dickel Barrel SelectGeorge Dickel Barrel Select Tennessee Whisky
86 Proof
Approx. $40 Retail
Tasting Dates: February 10-18, 2014
Thirsty South Rating: Excellent*

Dickel’s Barrel Select is a small batch of 10-12 barrels at a time, and 10-12 years old (though not with an age statement on the bottle). The nose here is beautiful, mellow, and balanced – you may get a tiny bit of that corn grain, but it’s well overshadowed (nicely so) by light brown sugar and lush tropical fruit and warm leather and toasty light wood. There’s so much textbook American whiskey stuff going on here, without any overbearing oak, I’m sorry I haven’t been drinking more of this over the years.

Sipping neat, the first thing that stands out is the fruity character – ripe peach, simmering in a skillet with butter and brown sugar. It’s rich and full, and cinnamon spice starts to come out after a few seconds, along with warm vanilla. There’s a bit of green woodiness in the middle that knocks it down a tiny notch in my book, but the finish is long and pleasantly cinnamon hot. Damn good stuff, very nice for the price, worthy of a go for any bourbon fan.

A cube of ice brings out the fruitiness on the nose even more, but also some syrupy sweetness. It dials down the green wood in the middle, but also slightly dulls the warm spice and vanilla. Again, I’d go neat rather than subject this one to ice, but that’s just personal preference.

Do I see the family resemblance? Not so much, to tell you the truth. One is young and corn focused, the other achieves a beautiful balance of grain and oak and time. I appreciate that both the young Dickel and the elder Dickel have a smoothness to them that doesn’t detract from the flavor – so maybe that’s the Dickel profile, the impact of the charcoal mellowing. In any case, both are Tennessee goodness in a bottle. After all, Dickel’s for drinking.

*******************************

* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

Full Disclosure: Both tasting samples were provided by George Dickel.