George A. Dickel was a successful merchant living in Nashville when he visited Tullahoma with his wife Augusta in 1867. Six miles northeast of Tullahoma, he discovered Cascade Hollow. Nestled on the Highland Rim of the Cumberland Plateau, this tiny town lies about halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga. The ancient limestone shelf of this plateau provides water than runs fresh and clear from the nearby Cascade Springs, and it made the perfect spot to build a distillery. By 1870, George A. Dickel had distilled his first bottle of Tennessee Whisky.
The Distillery is presently run by Master Distiller John Lunn who is continuing this handmade process as set forth by George Dickel and again by Ralph Dupps. The whisky was recently honored with two Gold Medal Awards in the recent 2006 Tatings.com competition conducted by the Beverage Testing Institute - the fifth consecutive Gold Medal for George Dickel No.12!
Dickel is produced from a mash of corn, barley and rye. The grains are finely ground at the distillery before being cooked. They are then cooled in mash tubs by pure spring water from Cascade Spring, located about one-half mile up the road from the distillery. Fermentation is begun using a proprietory yeast, followed by a double distillation - firstly in a column still, then in a pot-still. The process of charcoal mellowing then occurs, which defines the difference between Tennessee whiskey and bourbon whiskey. In this process, the double-distilled whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Dickel's mellowing process is unique in that it is chilled prior to the filtration process. This process of chilling the whiskey resulted from George discovering that the batches of whiskey he tasted during the winter were noticeably smoother than those he tasted during warmer weather. He called this process chill mellowing. The first step in the mellowing process is selecting and cutting sugar maple trees. Trees are cut in the winter months when the sugar maple's rich flavour is stored in the trunk of the tree. The trunks are allowed to season and cut into strips. These strips are hand-stacked and set ablaze in the open air. This process allows the smoke's impurities to escape from the resulting hard charcoal. The hard maple charcoal is crushed by hand and packed into one of six mellowing vats located at the distillery. Ten feet of charcoal is packed into each vat. Two virgin wool blankets are placed on the top and bottom of the charcoal. The top blanket ensures that the newly chilled whiskey uniformly reaches into the vat, while the bottom blanket keeps the charcoal from escaping as the whiskey leaves the vat. The entire chill charcoal mellowing process takes seven to ten days to complete, and though this extra process is time-consuming and expensive, the distillery believes the end result speaks for itself. The whisky is finally aged in new, charred American white oak barrels. Full barrels are aged just up the hill from the distillery in the industry's only single-storied iron-clad warehouses for up to 12 years.
Other reviews... Medium amber tint. Concentrated aromas of oak, ash and toasted grain are elegant yet profound; for me, it’s the prototypical Tennessee whisky bouquet. In the mouth, warm, roasted, ash- and tobacco-like flavors are scrumptious and intense. Oaky, grainy finish. The best bottling of George Dickel. 45% Alc./Vol. Rating: 90-95 points - www.wineenthusiast.com
Buttery peanut brittle and subtle latex-like aromas follow through to a supple brisk medium body of dried banana, peanut brittle, and coconut-like oak flavors with a tannic, fruity, honey and roasted cashew fade. A nutty, wild ride of a whisky--quite unique. Rating: 89 points (Highly Recommended)
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