Scenes from the American Whiskey Trail: George Dickel Distilllery (Tullahoma, TN)

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This is the second post in my series on the American Whiskey Trail, which first brings us to the beautiful, quaint town of Tullahoma, Tenn. to the George Dickel Distillery.

George Dickel is one of my favorite stops on the Trail for a few reasons.  One, it’s a gorgeous, tiny little picturesque distillery that is, quite frankly, in the middle of nowhere.  And therein lies the irony, for George Dickel is owned by Diageo, the largest spirits company in the world.  And though Diageo is known for many of its global spirits brands (Tanqueray, Crown Royal, Smirnoff, Don Julio, Ketel One, etc.), it is first and foremost a whiskey company.  That’s because Diageo owns more Scotch whiskys than any other company in the world, with brands like Johnnie Walker, Talisker, Oban, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, Cardu, Cragganmore, etc.  Who would expect the world’s largest whiskey company to own the teensiest, quietest little distillery in Tenn?  Certainly not me.

Now, I also love Dickel for this reason:  John Lunn, their Master Distiller. John is a whiskey good ‘ol boy, a pleasure to be around, and overall, a darn good Master Distiller.

On a sidenote, that’s another important thing to note about American Whiskey.  Unlike the winemakers of France and Master Tequileros of Mexico, the Master Distillers of Bourbon Country aren’t eloquent, photogenic, romantic talking heads, they’re good old boys of whiskey.  That’s not to say they’re not all of those things, but one thing they are absolutely not is pretentious.  They’re good boys who like good whiskey.  And chemistry.

Now, on to George Dickel.

George Dickel is a Tennessee Whiskey, which means it contains one key difference from classic bourbons.  That step is called the Lincoln County Process, which is a charcoal filtration step prior to aging that “mellows” the whiskey.  What’s does it do, you may ask, and is it a good thing?  In Tennessee, you’ll get a resounding YES to that question, where they believe it makes the whiskey smoother and more palatable.  On a sidenote, ask a distiller in Kentucky and you’ll get a completely different opinion.

 

Some fun facts on Dickel:

  • Unlike other bourbons and Tennessee Whiskeys, the brand spells the term whiskey without the “e” (as they do in Scotland), because founder George Dickel believed his product was just as good as Scotch.
  • The charcoal used in filtration is created right there at the distillery, using sugar maple wood.
  • Dickel chills the whisky during its charcoal mellowing process–a critical difference between other Tennessee Whiskey.  The process was created by a fateful accident: the distillers discovered that winter whisky tasted better than whisky produced in summer.  And the year-round chilling process was born.

Dickel is available in a few different bottlings, including:

George Dickel No. 8: Their classic offering

George Dickel No. 12: Aged longer, a little bolder, and bottled at 90 proof.

George Dickel Barrel Select: Aged between 10 and 12 years, and bottled at 86 poof.  Each year, Lunn chooses 10 barrels of his liking to create Barrel select.

George Dickel Rye: A relatively new offering (and probably my favorite), bottled at 90 proof.

For more info, visit http://www.dickel.com/.

 

 

 

Scenes from the American Whiskey Trail

As anyone who knows me well knows, I have the privilege of traveling quite a bit for work, and I am lucky enough to visit a handful of the most iconic American Whiskey distilleries each year.  This past May, I visited two of the most iconic Tennessee Distilleries, Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel, and four of the most beautiful distilleries in Kentucky, Maker’s Mark, the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

The American Whiskey Trail is a tourism initiative created by the Distilled Spirits Council (my fantastic company) in partnership with a handful of our large spirits companies.   We’ve helped to string together the major distilleries throughout Kentucky and Tennessee that are open to public.  Though I’m lucky enough to visit for work, I encourage everyone to get down there at some point.

Trail traffic and distillery tourism continues to grow each year, fueled by the ever-growing interest in American Whiskeys.  If you have any interest in traveling the trail, I encourage you to do so–it’s a wonderful way to learn about the category.  But if you’re interested in living vicariously, you can do that too—right  here, though a series I’ll be doing on my visits.

Happy Trails!

(sorry, that was terrible, but I had to)

Red, White and Booze. An Inaugural, Patriotic Affair.

Our Inaugural Affair.

After forcing the Ladies of the League to save date weeks in advance, I then realized I had chosen a particularly important date: the night of the first presidential debate.  Since I love a good theme more than almost anything else in this world (with the exception, perhaps, of puppies, bagels and yes, my mom), we embraced the occasion.  In honor of the eve, we hosted a Red, White and Booze bash.

We aptly chose to celebrate all things American with our country’s most prized agricultural product and signature spirit: Bourbon.  Not only is this heavenly nectar my whiskey of choice, but it also felt like the perfect platform to kick off the League in style (with hair on our chests).

And given we were keeping with the election theme, Maker’s Mark was the perfect poison.  If you’re not aware, they have a kitchy and awesome Cocktail Party political campaign running right now.

It is no secret that Maker’s Mark is in my regular rotation of bourbons.  I love the whiskey’s sweet flavor profile and though it would make a great first choice for the League.  The good folks at Maker’s must’ve thought so too, because they sent some my way.

First and foremost, we went over the basics.  The League is comprised of ladies of varying whiskey knowledge levels—some are my girlfriends in the industry (writers and flacks like myself), some are generally just badass brown slugging gals, and some are just looking to learn a thing or two to keep their boyfriends on their toesSo we started with the basic definition.

A view from the distillery.

bour·bon  (bûr bn)

  • A distilled deliciousness and a distinctive product of the U.S.
  • Made from at least 51% corn (with the rest coming from barley, wheat and rye)
  • Aged in new charred oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof
  • Barreled at no more than 125 proof
  • Bottled at 80 proof or more
  • Barrel aged (if more than 2 years, it’s a straight bourbon)

And some basic myths:

  • Bourbon isn’t required to be made in Kentucky (though if you talk to the KY folks, they believe their Bluegrass state and its limestone-filtered water  imparts super powers special benefits)
  • Despite popular belief, barrels do not need to be American oak (just oak), but must be new and charred
  • It’s  only for dudes

Now that we were on the same page, we got to tasting, both Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46 and in some handy dandy homemade Manhattans.

For those not in attendance, let’s recap:


Maker’s Mark

  • A crazy good small batch bourbon from Loretto, KY (owned by the good folks at Beam)
  • Known for its distinctive bottle and red wax stamp
  • Bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV)
  • Achieves its distinctive taste because of its mash bill, which contains corn, winter wheat and barley (and doesn’t include any rye)

Maker’s 46

  • Holy deliciousness
  • Achieves its flavor from finishing in French oak
  • Bottled at 95 proof (47.5% ABV)

And there you have it.  Our 101.  Great drinks, great company, and a great thirst for knowledge among the group.

And it’s Official.

We are the Women’s Whiskey League.   How did this happen?  Let’s review.

logoI love whiskey.  Everything about whiskey.  That’s mostly because I am lucky enough to work within the industry.  But I constantly hear friends and members of the media talk about the confusion surrounding the spirit.  Questions about how to drink it.  Comments about it being too strong.  I’m certainly no expert, but I know a thing or two.  Mostly about Bourbon & American Whiskey, but also about cocktails.  And what I don’t know, I can make up.  Actually, I’ll probably tap a few  experts to share their own knowledge.  It’s my one-woman mission to take the mystique out of this malty goodness.

For this, I started the Women’s Whiskey League.  A drinking club.  A collection of dram-loving dames.  Like a book club, but boozier.   We hope you’ll enjoy!
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As we know, there are two kinds of women in life.  Those who appreciate the brown.  And those who don’t.  I, my friends, am of course referring to spirits.  Brown spirits.

Oh, you’re a known whiskey slinger too?     Well great, that’s why you’ve found yourself on this site.

Hmm, you’re not yet sold?      Well, this is my attempt to convert you.

Let’s weigh the advantages of being a brown spirits gal:

  • It’s badass.  Just admit it.
  • You obviously recognize that everything gets better with age.  Except our breasts.  Those get worse.  Much, much worse.
  • Nothing beats a brown spirit cocktail.  I repeat.  Nothing.  Manhattans?  Awesome.  Manhattans in Manhattan?  Even better.  Manhattans in Manhattan?  Yeah, you’re welcome.

And the advantages of being a vodka/soda gal:

  • You’re thin, but still a boozer.
Are you onboard yet? 
If you are, I’m glad you came.   In the offline world, the Women’s Whiskey League will host tastings and cocktail parties monthly.  Here, we’ll share updates on the League, plus relevant boozy news, recipes and party content.
It’s my one-woman attempt to convert the masses to my poison of choice.