Wednesday 16 October 2013

TimeforWhisky pays a visit to Diageo Sydney (and talks George Dickel's Australian launch)

A few weeks ago, my good friend Marty (half of the very highly incredibly successful Mighty Car Mods) passed on a contact he'd made at Diageo who looks after their American Whiskey portfolio in Australia, and suggested I get in touch.

I did just that, and before I knew it, I was sitting at the Diageo Sydney workplace bar, on a beautiful Sydney day overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, talking whiskey and enjoying a George Dickel 12 "signature serve".

Hold up...George Dickel? Some may know it as the "other" Tennessee Whisk(e)y, and (in my case) as a large supplier of barrels to various Scottish distilleries (due to the American law, no doubt enacted at some point to ensure the viability of the American Oak industry, that states that the barrels used to age Bourbon / American Whiskey can only be used once).

So..I knew George Dickel was a Tennessee whisky, but that was about all I knew. In chatting to the guys from Diageo (who I have to say were incredibly passionate about the portfolio, which always makes for fantastic conversation), I learnt a lot more about the brand, including some pretty fascinating facts like:

  • Only 25 people work at the distillery to make the whiskey
  • ...and they do so without any machines or computers; and
  • Like a number of good rivalries, the distillery attempted to buy out the competition (i.e. Jack Daniels) shortly after prohibition, only to be refused. The refusal spurred the distillery on to return to their roots and re-produce their Tennessee whisky from the 1800s, and that's why we have George Dickel Tennessee Whisky today.
So about that signature serve? Pretty simple really - Dickel No.12, on the rocks, with an orange peel....and a fantastic drink it was too. Smooth, rich but still easy enough to drink on a warm Sydney day. I can see myself enjoying a few of them over summer! Full tasting notes for the No.8 and No.12 will be posted shortly.

Dickel isn't widely known in Australia, but that may change with the official release of both Dickel No.8 (40% ABV, aged for at least 5 years) and Dickel No.12 (45% ABV, aged on average for 8 years) on-premise from 1st November. The No.8 will also be available at several bottle shops around Australia, with limited numbers of the No.12 also available.

I've been a big fan of Jack Daniels for a while (as you can probably see from this collection) and I have to say I'm really enjoying George Dickel too. Whilst the brands obviously have some similarities, I really do think there's enough of a difference (especially in focus and marketing - with Jack having a heavy music influence and Dickel more of a craft influence) that the two should be able to happily co-habit the back bar of any decent Australian bar.

Exciting times.

(We also spent a good chunk of time talking about Bulleit Bourbon, the fantastic Bulleit 95 Rye, the upcoming 10yo and the new pre-batched Bulleit cocktails - think classy RTDs that actually taste good. To be covered in a future post.) 

 - Martin.

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