George Dickel Bottled In Bond Tennessee Whiskey (Fall 2005, 13 year)

Apologies, because the below prose was mostly copied from my recent Dickel No. 12 review, but it’s all still relevant and I am, at heart, a lazy person. Usually I let a good couple of months go by between blatant self-plagiarizing, but I just had to post this review immediately once I tasted it. It has been a long, long while since I opened a new bottle and found something warranting the “Must Have” tag. I have been jaded and disillusioned by the modern whisky industry, which I find to be full of noise with little substance. It was thus a welcome kick in the ass to discover that I could still be surprised by a bottle that retails for $35.

The George Dickel brand is best known as the “other” Tennessee Whiskey. Without going into the whole thing here, I’ll summarize by saying Tennessee Whiskey is straight bourbon whiskey (but don’t call it bourbon) that has been filtered through some quantity of sugar-maple charcoal. George Dickel, owned by Diageo, takes the extra step of chilling the whiskey before performing the filtering. This practice, called ‘chill filtration’, is now generally avoided by modern scotch producers who have found that consumers prefer not to have flavor compounds filtered out of their high-end whiskies. Dickel claims the chill-filtration through charcoal “mellows” the whiskey, removing harsh flavors. Maybe. Who knows. It certainly worked out in their rye and (spoilers!) here.

George Dickel’s lineup includes several Tennessee whiskies including a “No. 8” which is comparable to Jack Daniel’s “Old No. 7” in the black bottle, a “No. 12” which includes older whiskey in the blend and an extra 5% bottling strength, this Bottled-in-Bond expression, and a small batch “Barrel Select”. The Tennessee whiskies are all made at Dickel’s historic Cascade Hollow Distillery near Tullahoma, Tennessee, from a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley.

This Bottled-in-Bond batch, from the Fall 2005 distilling season, was aged for 13 years and is bottled at the required 50% ABV. It is chill-filtered through sugar maple charcoal, like the rest of Dickel’s whiskies. Update 9/26/2022: There have been several more editions since this review was published. See the latest one here.

Nose: Sweet, fruity, floral, and flecked with oak. We’re off to a good start. The fruit is plentiful: mixed berry jam, kiwi, rhubarb, red delicious apple, and fresh plums. There is also a popped corn aroma, some light caramel, and the smell that you get when you open a fresh bag of hardwood lump charcoal. This is delivered along with a strong nose tickle, so don’t stick your nose too deep in the glass.

Palate: Thin body. The fruit – especially the jam – continues onto the palate. After a brief but intense tongue burn – it is 100 proof after all – there is soft corn, sweet honeyed cornbread, mild oaky tannins, and more. Quite complex.

Finish: Long. The fruit – now with some balsamic-like density – continues through the finish, and evolves into licorice drops, red pepper jelly, charcoal without bitterness, and vague wafting smoke, like a newly-lit campfire. This lasts for surprisingly long (for a corn whiskey). Excellent.

With Water: A few drops of water add candy corn and vanilla ice cream to the aroma and palate without taking anything away. The burn seems less intense, but the finish is slightly more vegetal (grassy). Try both without and then with water.

Overall: Wow. This stuff is legit. 13 years of aging, prominent fruit notes without undue bitterness that last from nose to finish, all for $35? This has just become my new favorite under-$50 bourbon. As long as it retains its age statement, it will sit alongside Eagle Rare 10 year (my house bourbon) as my house Tennessee Whiskey. I think the Eagle Rare is a little more polished, with fewer eclectic notes and more focus, but this new Dickel is bursting with complexity, and I love some fruit character in my American whiskey. I’m sold. In fact, I’m going to go get a few more bottles.

George Dickel Bottled In Bond Tennessee Whiskey (Fall 2005, 13 year)
50% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $35 - $45
Acquired: (750 ml bottle) Purchased at Total Wine, San Jose, CA, $35.

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  • “I have been jaded and disillusioned by the modern whisky industry, which I find to be full of noise with little substance.”

    But, but, but…THE Macallan’s new Edition no.5 is based on COLOUR !!! Isn’t that amazing ??!! Seriously though, terrific review. I’d love to try this one but I doubt it will make its way up to Ontario, Canada. If it does, our government liquor overlords will undoubtedly charge an absurd amount of money for it.

  • I am glad to see this glowing review. I hope they keep making it at this price since it is the deal of the year, the level of quality at that price is pretty impressive. I visited the distillery the day they released it and bought it there, I loved every drop of that first bottle and ready for more.

  • Yep, I agree. It’s quite delicious and affordable. Only saw one round pass by this spring and only at Total Wine, never any of the locally-owned stores. I grabbed one bottle, confirmed I liked it, returned maybe a week later and the rest were gone. Let’s hope for another release as good as the first.

  • Thanks Noob, I’ll have to give it a shot. It’s nice that pleasant surprises can still be found at a reasonable price. I like George Dickel’s No. 8, but don’t generally buy it and wouldn’t have picked their BIB from any other BIB on the shelf. Do you have any rules-of-thumb regarding new limited releases from big American distilleries? More specifically, do you favor any particular distilleries for these types of releases? I ask since there appears to be a lot of value that flies under the hype radar … with maybe the hyphenated distilleries being the exception to that statement.

    • I haven’t found any rules of thumb, no. In general I’ve found most new bourbon/rye releases to be unspectacular, or at best slight improvements over the tried-and-true expressions but with hefty price markups. What stood out, to me, about this BIB is the 13 year age (not quite an age statement, but it’s trivial to find the actual age online using the distillation season on the label) and the quite low price tag. Some of the Old Forester special editions (like Prohibition Style) are pretty good, but (I hear) not all of them. Luckily, any new bottle that turns out to be a disappointment can just become so many Old Fashioneds or Manhattans. 🙂 Cheers!

  • Hey there, I had suggested a few months back u review this gem , I believe it is the best value of 2019! I also went back and got several more after first sip lol, enjoy!!

    • Thanks for the suggestion! I, also, went out and got a few more bottles after writing this review. I expect the next batch will likely be “not quite” as old and/or “not quite” as good, but that’s just my cynicism showing…

  • I’m an American whisky lover who never really loved American whiskey, with a few exceptions, like Eagle Rare. I passed on this the first time Total Wine got it in, but I bought a bottle the second time because of your review. I’m glad I did. You don’t find too many things that are this good at this price in 2019. According to the website, this is a limited release. If there are future bottled in bond releases from GD, they will almost definitely be younger. That’s just unfortunate reality, not cynicism.