Based out of Nashville in Tennessee, the George Dickel Tennessee Whisky has been in production since 1870. Of the smoothest and most mellow of whiskies to have emerged from the region, the George Dickel Tennessee Whisky is rather remarkable. American by place of origin and Scottish by standards of excellence, it is not an experience easy to forget.
History is a Tennessee Thing
When he immigrated to America at the age of twenty-six, George Dickel started work in the shoe trading business. Once established, he ventured into whisky-making. For this immigrant from Germany, he began by selling liquor. Later he set up a wholesaling firm (named Geo. A. Dickel and Co) to procure and distribute whisky from regional distilleries in Tennessee. Put to good use were bottles, barrels and even jugs! It took very little time for him to diversify his business and George Dickel soon started producing his own whisky at Cascade Hollow. Credited with having come up with the recipe and popular by the name Dickel, it quickly became a best-seller.
Prohibition in America however had different plans. Between 1920 and 1933, with a blanket ban on the production and sale of alcohol in America, the distillery was closed down. It was initially relocated to Louisville in Kentucky, but the operations had to shut down altogether after 1920. After Prohibition was repealed, it was discovered that the recipe had never been written down! It had to be obtained from two former distillers at the site of the Cascade Hollow! The brand was renamed Cascade Whisky. In 1937, the Schenley Distilling Company bought the brands Dickel and Cascade Whisky. A new distillery was opened, down the road from the old Cascade Hollow Distillery. This site still uses the old traditional recipe and same source of water for the production of whisky as the old distillery.
The Taste of George Dickel
Often described to be as ‘mellow as moonlight’, the taste of Geo. A. Dickel’s Cascade Tenessey Whisky is smooth and clean. This whisky from Tennessee is held to be of the same calibre and smoothness as some of the best of Scotch whiskies - the reason why you will find it spelt as ‘whisky’ in Scottish tradition, a departure from American ‘whiskeys’ which include ‘e’ in the spelling.
Prepared during winter months because George Dickel believed that it made the whisky more smooth, the whisky follows a special procedure of production. It is chilled before undergoing charcoal-mellow filtration. This is why winters remain conducive to the production-process. For the purpose of filtration, the whisky seeps through vats packed with charcoal. Filtered through sugar-maple charcoal, the Tennessee Whisky different from the average bourbon. The wood is fired the old-fashioned way, in open air. It also uses sour mash where material from an older batch of mash is used to start the fermentation of the new batch. They also have their own yeast farm. The mash is cooled at night rendering the whisky ‘mellow as moonlight’. The barrels in which the George Dikel Tennessee Whiskys are aged also have a story to tell. They are made of charred American white oak and stored on a single level. Based out of warehouses at one location, at the top of a hill near the distillery - the aging process stays uniform. The barrels are individually labelled by hand - quite the labour of love!
Available in a variety of releases, the George Dickel Tennessee Whisky offers a fine balance of flavours like caramel, wood, maple and buttered corn in No. 8. The more intense flavours of smoke, rich oak, vanilla and butter are available in No. 12. The George Dikel Rye Whisky is produced at Indiana. However, the charcoal is shipped from Cascade Hollow to ensure consistency.
The George Dikel Distillery Tour
Visit the Hollow Cascade. They love people to stop by. You will not find it on most maps. Off the beaten path, it is rather remote in the middle of a dense forest. The Cascade Spring runs close by and feeds the distillery. The tour will take you around and acquaint you with the methods of production. It runs from Monday through Saturday from 9AM in the morning to 4:30PM in the afternoon. On Sundays, the timings change to 11AM to 5PM. Priced at USD 10, the tour includes a complimentary tasting. Visitors are advised to carry personal identity documents as age proof. It would also be a good idea to use proper footwear on your trip to the distillery. Open-toed shoes and high heels are not allowed on the premises.
Time slows down at the Cascade Hollows. A charming little distillery at Tullahoma in the Coffee County of Tennessee, the setting is far removed from the daily humdrum of life. Raise a toast and celebrate it.