When Schenley Distilleries failed in their attempt to purchase the Jack Daniel Distillery and brand in the 1950s, they decided to rebuild the pre-Prohibition Cascade Hollow Distillery and make George Dickel Tennessee Whisky for themselves. I have written a brand history of Dickel before, so I will not go into detail on the history here. What I will say is that, this bottle of George Dickel No. 12 is from the early years of the new distillery. 

Schenley’s goal at the time was to reproduce the whisky sold by Dickel as close as they could. They did extensive research and experimented with the charcoal mellowing process at the Stagg Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky (now Buffalo Trace). They wanted to create an authentic Tennessee whiskey that would out-sell the Jack Daniel brand. They never achieved that goal, but they did create an outstanding Tennessee whisky. However, Schenley failed in marketing the whiskey to consumers. The good thing about their poor marketing is that there are many of these old bottles to be found today.

George Dickel No. 12 ca. 1966

Proof: 90

Age: No Age Statement


  • Mike: Toasted marshmallows, smoky oak wood, apple fruit and a hint of pepper spice.
  • Matt: Chocolate, caramel, marshmallows and dark fruits with a little smoky oak.


  • Mike: Apples and caramel with some black pepper spice and smoky oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and a hint of cayenne pepper joins the party. Tasted with a pecan and there is more vanilla and apple fruit, but less pepper spice.
  • Matt: Milk chocolate, sweet caramel and oak. The dried cranberry added notes of dark fruits. The pecan added notes of a chocolate malt and brown sugar.


  • Mike: Long and dry with smoky oak wood and pepper spice. The dried cranberry enhanced the pepper spice. The pecan enhanced the oak but reduced the pepper spice.
  • Matt: Oak and leather with spicy cayenne pepper. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter and less spicy. The pecan added even more spicy cayenne pepper.

I would pair this Tennessee whisky with a full bodied cigar. I would reach for a Fuente cigar with lots of earthy tobacco and cedar spice notes – maybe an “Eye of the Shark” or a “Between the Lines”.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller