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Tennessee Whiskey Review: Jack Daniels Single Barrel and George Dickel Barrel Select

Jack Daniels Single Barrel, 47%/94 Proof $45
Jack Daniels has one of the most distinctive flavor profiles in whiskey. The Lynchburg, Tennessee distillery’s single barrel effort is the same profile ramped up a few levels, particularly in the wood department. The deep amber, copper-red hued Tennessee Whiskey is thick and viscous in the glass. The nose is a all sweet and oak: huge caramel and vanilla, toasted oak and cedar, as well as floral aromas. Burnt cinnamon sugar and cocoa help make for a dark, sultry aroma. The flavors on the palate are sturdy and firm, again with tremendous weight. In spite of that, the front half of the sip is a bit flat, eventually evolving as vanilla infused caramel, black pepper, wood spices, and charcoal towards the finish. Oak, a resinous grippy quality, and dry spices dominate the finish. Jack Daniels Single Barrel is a very well made whiskey hurt a bit by a lack of balance and a slow development of flavors on the palate.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.3 (Very Good/Excellent)

George Dickel Barrel Select, 43%/86 Proof $39
It’s no secret that George Dickel plays second fiddle to Jack Daniels when it comes to production and notoriety. Heck take a look at Dickel’s parent company’s (Diageo) website. Regardless, the little distillery in Cascade Hollow (Tullahoma), Tennessee continues to put out some excellent products. Take for example their Barrel Select, which is the name for the distillery’s small batch of select barrels. It’s light amber/deep gold in hue with a nose of corn mash, sweet tobacco, honey, canned pineapple, and maple syrup wrapped around a core of oak and leather. It’s a special nose! On the palate this whiskey continues with the well rounded theme. Honeyed dried apricots, caramelized nuts, big corn, vanilla, and spearmint lead to a solid punch of splintered fresh oak. The finish is all corn, warming wood spices (cinnamon and allspice), and honey. George Dickel Barrel Select is a superb whiskey with balanced flavors of fruit, corn, wood, and spices. It’s too bad those morons from Diageo continue to treat it like a red headed stepchild, because the whiskey Dickel produces is some of the best in the country for the dollar.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.0 (Superb/Outstanding)

43 Comments

  1. LeMoyne Mercer says:

    Jason,
    Every few years I order a JD No. 7 in an effort to find out why I don’t care for it. Obviously, lots of people think it is wonderful stuff but I just don’t get it.
    In contrast, I have no trouble at all enjoying GD No.12. It’s mellow and downright tasty.
    Now that you have reviewed the single-barrel iterations, perhaps you will consider going back, as it were, to those baseline products. (I didn’t forget GD 8, just don’t find it up to the benchmark quality of No. 12.)

  2. Josh Scott says:

    I agree Jason. The JDSB comes off a bit too woody for me and lacks an overall balance between the vanilla, wood, and spices. Not a bad dram, but not a great one either.

    Have not had the George Dickel yet. Need to try.

    Nice review!

  3. Vince says:

    Jason:
    I just purchased a JDSB from Frugal McDougal’s in Nashville. Tasted it over the weekend and found it to be very good (much more dark fruit in this one). I have a GDSB but have not opened it yet. I plan on doing a side by side this weekend. I’ll let you know what I think. Keep up the great work!

  4. MW says:

    “It’s too bad those morons from Diageo continue to treat it like a red headed stepchild, because the whiskey Dickel produces is some of the best in the country for the dollar.”

    Yeah, but shhhhhhh…let’s keep this our little secret! Dickel is so very impressive – the 12 is always in my cabinet. Unfortunately the BSelect is not distributed here for some odd reason. Planning a trip to KY/TN this fall & it’s at the top of my shopping list.

  5. Hey gents, thanks for the comments today. I certainly realize these are two very different whiskeys stylistically. If someone favors strong, woody, spicy whiskeys then they most likely will prefer the JD. I recommend you try them both side by side if you can and see what you like best. I have a feeling you might be surprised.

  6. sam k says:

    Well, you’re right. I can’t find even the slightest reference to Dickel on the Diageo site. How…strange.

    As goes the whiskey, I recently bought some JDSB and felt exactly the same as you about its lack of focus. Then again, Brown-Forman as a company seems to exhibit that same characteristic in its overall approach to whiskey.

    I’ve loved Dickel for many years, even took my wife there on our honeymoon way back when. Did them and JD on the same day, and the Dickel tour kicked Jack’s office safe!

    I’m looking forward to getting some Barrel Select, as it’s available by the bottle on special order in PA ($40), as are Dickel No. 12 ($20) and Cascade Hollow ($9!).

    Glad to have you back, Jason!

  7. Dave in Oklahoma says:

    Hey Jason, Sorry to say it, but I have to respectfully disagree. I LOVE Dickel#12…I LOVE IT!! Jack Daniels is okay, but I have had a chance to try both.

    Dickel Barrel Select…I did NOT like it. I wanted to, really I did. Maybe it was just my bottle. It tasted worse than Kentucky Deluxe!! Oh how I wanted to love GDBS!! A little expensive for a bad tasting bottle…again, did I mention how much I wanted to like/love this!! I’ll give it one more chance, then if I don’t like it,I’m sticking with Dickel#12!!!

    The Jack Single Barrel is the 2010, Ducks Unlimited. Ohh man…smooth baby, smooth. As about as good as Dickel #12 or Maker’s Mark. I did not like the price tag on this bottle-verses- the tatse…way over priced, and this bottle was a present.

    Keep the reviews coming!!!

    Go Sooners!!
    Dave in Oklahoma

  8. Tommy Viola says:

    Welcome back, Jason!

  9. Steve says:

    Jason nice reviews. George Dickel has to be one of the most under rated American whiskeys out there. The barrel select is excellent. Give me George and Elmer anytime good values and fairly easy to find. Steve

  10. Eric S. says:

    Since I’m a huge fan of Dickel 12, I’ll have to pick up a bottle of the Barrel Select. I’ve left it sit because of the price and lower proof, but I’ll give it a try. As for the JDSB, I like it quite a bit… which seems strange, given that I think Old #7 is a vastly overrated product that is driven purely by a macho cult following.

  11. charles says:

    well i’ve drank a bunch of old#7, especially growing up here it was just what we drank, probably for reasons Eric stated. havn’t owned a bottle in at least ten years. i’ve never had any george dickel. probably become another staple when i try it this weekend. i gotta lay off your site Jason, this bottle or two every week is gettin’ expensive! Thanks for putting your personal time into this.

  12. Eric, I really enjoyed the JDSB. It’s good stuff, I just was a bit amazed at how much better the Dickel was.

    Tommy, thank you!

    Steve, I agree sir – can’t go wrong with either of those.

    Dave, I certainly understand your love of JD Single Barrel over the Dickel Barrel Select. As I mentioned to someone else – the beauty of whiskey is there is no “right” or “wrong”. You like what you like. Never trust an “expert” over your own taste buds. Educate your palate on what you like, what you are tasting in the products (to the best of your ability) and trust yourself first. Hopefully along the way I can provide some insight or some understanding of a product someone hasn’t tried yet that resonates with them. That’s my goal. It’s definitely not my intention to say you are not correct for what you like. I’m also glad to see this topic here is a lot more divided than others. We need more discussion and back and forth of opposing positions.

    Sam, cheers to you. I hope you are well as always. I will say, and I failed to mention it in the review, but I think the Dickel could easily be ramped up to 95-100 proof and would elevate itself at least a couple decimal points. At 86 proof, it delivers the flavor in spades, but it could be a real gem in a higher proof. They need to release a Barrel Select Barrel Proof.

  13. Had the privilege of tasting three single barrel samples attack recently, all from the same lot, all 6 yo, and there was significant difference – the best being bold and balanced, the worst being flat and hot. JDSB can be a superb sip, but SB is highly variable by nature.

  14. Had the privilege of tasting three single barrel samples recently, all from the same lot, all 6 yo, and there was significant difference – the best being bold and balanced, the worst being flat and hot. JDSB can be a superb sip, but SB is highly variable by nature.

  15. Brad, you bring up probably one of the best points here. It is in fact a “Single Barrel”. Bottle to bottle differences will absolutely be there.

  16. Franco C says:

    Jason, I’m buying some GDBS this week! Must say, my attention has always been toward bourbon and rye whiskey. Time to open up my horizons to the Tennessee variety. Thanks as always!!

  17. Alan says:

    Have had GDBS-JDSB, GD12-GJ. Of those two comparisons…I like the GD12 & GJ. Both are smoother, more flavor (the GD12 more flavor than the GJ) than the higher price counter parts. Just goes to show you…there’s alot of great whiskies around the $20 & below range out there! Thanks for the great reviews Jason-as always!

  18. sam k says:

    What’s GJ?

  19. Dave in Oklahoma says:

    Sam k: The GJ as mentioned by Alan, if I’m not mistaken stands for Gentleman Jack-a Jack Daniels product.

    To me…GJ is way too sweet!!

    Dave in Oklahoma

  20. sam k says:

    Thanks. I always get confused by random initials, especially if the whiskey being referred to wasn’t part of the post or any comment.

    I need a decoder ring!

  21. Alan says:

    Sorry Sam…that is Gentleman Jack. There are much better whiskies out there for less than GJ. Just a comparrison mention there. I do like the GD more than the JD products. They all have their places in the whiskey world though!

  22. Alan, there are some fabulous whiskeys at that price point – no doubt. That’s the beautiful thing – value is out there, you just have to try different things and trust your taste.

  23. Franco, I would love to know your thoughts on the George Dickel whenever you get ahold of it.

  24. Clive Gains says:

    not getting ‘exactly’ into Select like my 80′s no 12.

    Is there any decades long dickel drinker that can spot any slight difference to the moderns.

    noticeably thin. the ‘heat’is too ‘fast’. No 12 was a ripper of how much time it took.
    something very slightly different in taste or maybe affecting taste?
    (both no 12 + select 2006 bottle imports)
    smell pine like, perfumed i’m getting from the smell while corn is underpinned. No 12 at super soft fresh corn field coming out the first and that soft buttery corn just right.
    any theory’s on what this could be?

    I

    I agree in every world of Jim reviews on No 12. outstanding, super balanced. Just look how long he chews No 12 for. that ‘s exactly what it is like.

  25. Clive Gains says:

    any tips on how to mellow the dickel out correct????.

    i have not aired out more then 5 minutes. i dont want to wreak it.
    i have poured in ultra clean glass and mug and left sit all day covered.
    i think its improved smell wise and mellow taste. i dont now about that chew yet.

    well at moment im getting that good fresh dough huge out of dickel pour and that smell of corn and dough like in empty glass or mug.
    hopefully the arrivel will pick.

    maybe there is transformation in a 20 plus year of dickel? And it just suits me and simply better.

    i am still loss way some comments on net were not that over happy and mention a vitamin taste. those note where from 2003-2006 so i understand they were using supply from late 90′s

    sorry for my complains everyone.

  26. Clive, nothing to be sorry about. We appreciate all opinions! With whiskey everyone’s opinion is right.

  27. Clive Gains says:

    Jason, please just delete my silly rants..i can’t even read em! everyone else is happy. maybe just some batches from 2003-2006 bottles. Empty glass smells 100% dickel: fresh corn and cooking dough like aromas. this 2006 Select is thin like i can’t chew it, very cider, and the corn and dough are so subdued.

  28. Clive, no need to delete man. Everyone’s opinion is welcomed and appreciated. Cheers.

  29. David Markle says:

    Wow. Just. Wow. I’ve bought a bottle of GDBS and am absolutely amazed. Thanks, Jason! You’re spot-on, as always. Just incredible and surprising stuff from the first sip.

  30. George Dickel is so good it makes me want to crochet and yodel at the same time. Jake The Bass Player.

  31. David, glad you enjoyed it!

  32. MARK SCHANKERMAN says:

    Jason
    Just wanted to thank you for another informative review. I rely on your reviews regularly to deepen my knowledge, and enjoyment, of new bourbons. The GD Barrel Select reivew got me to try it and it is a very good whisky, smooth, plenty of balanced flavors. Would love to see a review by you of Jefferson Reserve, especially compared with Rockhill (I know your review of RH and Blantons). Thanks again for your efforts!

  33. Mark, I hope to do some Jefferson’s as soon as possible. Thanks for the comment.

  34. Ed Olson says:

    Good posts everyone. Have never tried any Dickel whiskey which is strange because I’ve drank just about everything from moonshine to top of the line scotch at one time or another. As of the present moment JDSB is what is in my glass. Tennessee whiskey to me is simply the best. I’ve tried the no7 and Gentleman Jack and can’t say they are for me. I prefer the heavier/fuller flavor of the SB. Going to pick up a bottle of Dickel Barrel Select tomorrow if I can find it around here. Everybody looks at me like some sort of snob for drinking the SB. Heck, I’m just an old (70) country boy that like good Tennessee whiskey, hunting, fishing, country music, good bbq and beer. Pretty women too. Life is good.

  35. JK says:

    Have been tasting through a pair of bottles at home since Thanksgiving, but have held off reporting in on them until now. One is the Dickel Barrel Select and the other Elmer T Lee. Each is similarly concentrated, fairly elegant yet rich with caramel and butter, with only moderate barrel char. I really like both a great deal, and it’s been quite enjoyable to pick these apart and compare them side by side regularly. I’m sure to have one or the other (or both) on hand at any one time from here out. Very appreciative of your reviews on both; there’s a heap to like here. It’s a buyers’ heaven !

  36. No problem JK – glad you finding a number of whiskeys that you enjoy.

  37. iskch1 says:

    Jason, have you notice when you first open a bottle from a particular distillery you can smell their trademark aroma? I got a George Dickel Single Barrel Select bottle and when I opened there was a distintic aroma similar to the Cascade Hollow younger version. It was cool because I never try the 8 or 12 G.D versions. That means they rely on a single sour mash recipe. Interesting.

  38. Iskch1 – absolutely agree. Certain bottles have a distinctive aroma that you know what you are about to sip.

  39. Jamie says:

    Have you tried adding a dash of BARREL SELECT to DICKEL 12?

  40. Haven’t tried that Jamie, but I am sure it adds a bit more wood quality to the 12. I’m sure it’s great. I love both.

  41. Mark V says:

    I live in Alabama, and we are under the strong arm of the Alabama Beverage Commission. They do not put the GD Barrel Select in the stores but I found it in a great independent store in Troy AL. I really like No. 12 but I LOVE the Barrel Select.
    The owner of Pete’s Package Store told me that if he was wrong in his recommendation, he would let me keep the bottle and refund the price. THAT is how confident he was that I would like the GD Barrel Select.
    I guess it helps that I like the underdog too. I have never been that crazy about Jack.

  42. NC&StL Runaway says:

    I have to say I think you guys are beating up on old JD a bit much. It ‘s not fair to compare to GD it is a more mass produced product. I also imagine the JD of today sadly is not what it once was. Still it’s a great TN style sourmash impressive considering the demand that must be filled and I still prefer it most of the Bourbons and it certainly kicks Makers and Crown and other big name North America whiskey on their hind quarters. It’s a very good whiskey perhaps 70 years ago it could have gone toe to toe with Dickel…. But popularity has not been kind. I hope Dickel remains and unloved step child of Diago all it would take to ruin this legend is the Chinese to find out about it, and greed will do the rest. I agree that the best George Dickel is the number 12. I think the whole single barrel thing has more to do with elitest marketing then making good whiskey. The original process was not easier then selling SB rather it was an improvement. SB marketing is merely marketing to cater to snobs who want to brag rather then enjoy in my not so humble opinion. It might be better in the case of JD because it has more craftsmanship but for GD that craftsmanship never left their main brand. GD should be kept a secret in my opinion to keep it a treasure. It is my second most favored whiskey in the world and second only to my palates love of Talisker and if they had peat in Tullahoma rather then charcoal Talisker might have to take a bow. Last comment: above it was said JD has a stronger wood flavor I disagree, I am a long time BBQ smoker and I do know my woods. JD is more “earthy” in music I’d say it has too much bass, it contributes to the flat taste. GD 12 would has a much stronger smoked wood flavor it’s aging process is superior and that is why. It’s smoke flavor is stronger and has what I would call better mid tones. Forgive my musical comparison it’s just how I think. Then again I love smoke and that’s why Talisker is my favorite. and I love Rauchbier. What I taste more then anything in GD 12 is the Railroad and given Tullahoma history that is a ni e fit. Get some GD 12 the single and select barrel like hardness in knives is just marketing shenanigans.

  43. doug says:

    If you like the Dickel 12 that much, grab yourself a bottle of the new 9 year 103 proof Dickel. Truly the best thing I have come across; the aftertaste stays forever!

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  1. [...] nice comparison of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel and George Dickel’s Barrel Select, check out the tasting notes at Sour Mash Manifesto. It’s worth pointing out, though, that single barrel bottlings and small batch bottlings are [...]