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George Dickel No. 12 Tenesee Sour Mash Whisky

Review: George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky  84/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted May 24, 2016

George Dickel Whisky is produced at the Cascade Distillery in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, near Tullahoma, by George A Dickel & Co. (the brand is currently owned by Diageo). As a Tennessee Whisky, George Dickel is required by state law to be not only produced in Tennessee, it must also undergo charcoal filtering through the use of what is called the Lincoln County Process (which involves maple charcoal filtering). As well, all Tennessee Whisky must meet all the requirements in place for bourbon whisky. It must have a mash bill of at least 51 % corn, it must be aged in new charred oak barrels with limits on the alcohol concentration for distillation, aging, and bottling).

The No. 12 brand is therefore both a Bourbon (although it is not labeled so) and a Tennessee Whisky. It is produced from a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. The twice distilled mash is matured in oak with #4 Char, and the final whisky is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

Note: The process is named for Lincoln County, Tennessee which, based upon the boundaries at the time, was the County where the Jack Daniel’s distillery was located at the time the Lincoln County Process was developed.

George Dickel No. 12In the Bottle 4/5

George Dickel arrives in a standard long-necked whisky bottle as shown to the left. It has a nice solid cork and the labeling is quite satisfactory with fonts and colours which are easy to see and read. I have only one quibble, and that is the No. 12 Emblem on the neck and the main label which at first glance may be mistaken for an age statement. I say this because the large number 12 is positioned in the same prominent locations which many other brands place their age statements.

Last Christmas when my wife was looking for a nice bourbon to gift to me, the helpful aisle clerk told her the whiskey was 12 years old, and after a quick glance and seeing the No. 12 my wife took the clerk at his word. Was this all just an unfortunate mistake, or is the label strategically designed to cause confusion?

In the Glass 8.5/10

The whisky has a pleasing copper colour which is perhaps drifting towards bronze. When I tilted and twirled my sample glass I saw that the spirit left a thickened sheen on the inside of my glencairn which held its crest for about eight seconds before releasing a multitude of slow-moving leggy droplets which ambled back into the whisky.

The breezes above the glass brought me maple and corn syrup, some oak and wood sap, and a very nice impression of damp cigar tobacco. There is both honeycomb and cedar and perhaps a touch of grain spice in the air with obvious some vanilla accents and some baking spices (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg) which seem to grow as we let the glass breathe. An indistinct almond-like marzipan began to release itself into the breezes. My overall impression is of a whiskey which is moderately complex, and yet mellow and easy to approach.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

The initial entry in to the mouth surprised me with the sharp peppery bite of oak spice and alcohol. The mellow smoothness I sensed upon the nose has not translated completely to the mouth. Then again, this is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, and I do not believe that the overall spirit is aged longer than four or five years, so the sharp bite should have been expected.

Once I adjust myself and take another sip, I taste some lightly sharp wood sap and oak spice. The sharpness is tempered by the light sweetness of maple and corn syrup as well as lightly sweet vanillans. There are interesting fruit flavours in the form of orange peel and canned apricots. I also taste underlying tobacco flavours, a few touches of marzipan and some hints of cinnamon all of which round out the flavour profile. The nose perhaps promised me more; but the whisky is quite acceptable nonetheless.

I mixed a few cocktails, beginning with a simple Buckeroo (see recipe below). Cola is such an obvious mixer with a corn laden bourbon, and as I expected the tall bar drink was extremely nice. Encouraged I mixed an Old Fashioned. The short drink was okay and I certainly would not turn it down if I was served one again; however I was much more enthusiastic towards the Buckeroo.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The whisky has a medium length finish with a bevy of corn flavour chased by vanilla, wood spice and cinnamon. There is an ebbing dry woody bitterness at the end which I found distracting. I was perhaps hoping for more of the maple sweetness I noted in the breezes to provide a fulcrum between the dry and the bitter.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Going through my scores, I felt the whisky was perhaps a little better than the sum of its parts. So in deciding whether to score this area 8 or 8.5, I opted for the higher score. George Dickel No. 12 is a decent bourbon. It is not nearly as old as what the store clerk promised, but when my wife told me how much the spirit cost (about 30 bucks Canadian), I felt the No. 12 was well worth the price.

My score of 84/100 reflects a whisky which is suitable to sip over ice, although I admit I will be more inclined to mix a few more Buckeroos.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Cocktail

Buckeroo SAM_2401A Buckeroo is simply a mixture of Whiskey and cola accented by some bitters. The serving is extremely tasty in particular when made with a quality bourbon.


1 1/2 oz Bourbon
dash Angostura Bitters
Slice of Lime for garnish

Build in a tall glass with ice
Complete with Cola
Garnish with a lime slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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