George Dickel entered the whisky business in 1870 selling the whiskey made at the Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The whisky he sold was made using the ‘Lincoln County Process of filtering the new make spirit through a ten foot tall cylinder layered with sugar maple charcoal and wool blankets before entering the barrel for aging. This process lessened the acidity of the whisky and added a smoky character to the spirit. Dickel is said to have preferred whisky made in the winter as it was less oily and crisper in flavor. That was the Geo. A. Dickel’s Cascade Tennessee Whisky – “Mellow as Moonlight”. Notice that Dickel never used the “e” in the word “whisky”.
When Prohibition came to Tennessee in 1910, it caused the distillery to be moved to Louisville and the Dickel crew would make their Cascade Whisky at the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery non days when Stitzel was not making product for himself. The charcoal mellowing vat was added to the Stitzel Distillery and Cascade Whisky was made there until prohibition shut down all production in 1920. After prohibition ended Schenley purchased the brand and continued to make Cascade Bourbon up till the 1960s. This whisky was not charcoal filtered. In the late 1950s Schenley rebuilt the Cascade Hollow distillery just down the road from the original site and started making Geo. A. Dickel No. 8 and No. 12.
Today we will be tasting a small batch version of Dickel that has been aged for 17 years. I am joined in this tasting by Sylvia Holden. Sylvia’s parents live across the street from me and she is very interested in expanding her experience with tasting whisky. She works at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery giving tours as a “Whiskey Specialist” so I thought it best to let her taste product made by Diageo and picked the Dickel.
Geo. A. Dickel Small Batch
Age: 17 years old
Nose: I perceive some smoky notes with apples and vanilla and a hint of leather and oak. Sylvia detects apple or pear similar to the Asian pear with caramel or brown sugar. There is a smoky note and nutty tones – almonds?
Tasting: I find ripe apples and smoke with some pepper spice and caramel. Sylvia tastes heat from the tannins – a peppery spice. Strong oak and persimmon fruit and maple syrup. With a dried cranberry I find takes the pepper down a notch but there is a hint of baking spices. Sylvia finds gets dried apricot and baking spices with the cranberry. With pecan I find a citrus note opens up and the spices are more baking spice and vanilla comes forward. Sylvia finds the pecan made the taste sharper and increased he peppery notes. She is finding more floral notes.
Finish: Long and dry with oak tannins and pepper spice. Sylvia gets a lot of menthol with oak barrel smoke and charcoal – very long lasting. I find the cranberry takes the finish into a sweeter start and removes the spice and oak. Sylvia finds the finish much shorter and eliminates the heat and spice. The pecan made the finish more oak and less smoke. Sylvia finds the pecan very pleasant and her favorite – a blend of spice, tannins and a crème brule notes.
Notes: This is a very good product and I enjoy this whisky. I find it to be a very nice balance of smoke and sweet flavors with a good finish. Sylvia states that she enjoyed the Dickel but is still a Bourbon Girl! I am going to enjoy this with a Padron 1964 anniversary cigar.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach