It’s the 4th of July and across the United States people are celebrating Independence Day! Over here in The Netherlands is business as usual, but I thought to bring some of that cheer over here with a side-by-side comparison of two spectacular drams from days of yore. A George Dickel Old No. 12 and a Wild Turkey Old No. 8. Both bottled in the 90’s!
Both samples were gifted to me by Norbert from Whisky4all after helping him at his stand during Whisky in Leiden and Whisky in het Fort. Norbert himself was very fond of these two whiskies and if something comes highly recommended by him then I can’t wait to try it for myself, because I know what an excellent palate he has!
Tasting Notes: George Dickel Old No. 12
ABV: 45% (90 Proof)
Distillery: Cascade Hollow Distillery
Category: Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky
The first thing that surprises me on the nose of this dram is how relatively delicate this whisky is. I’m generally used to much more intensity from bourbon, but this is mellow and forgiving. Classic notes of vanilla, molasses, and brown sugar are easily discernible but delicate all the same. It’s no more than a mere sprinkling. Which is lovely because it allows floral notes of heather, lavender, and rose to shine through beautifully. Which makes it easily one of the most floral bourbons (or Tennesse Whiskies) I’ve ever had.
Just like the nose the palate holds a beautiful balance, though it does shift towards another spectrum entirely. Where it was the floral notes that balanced out the classical sweetness on the nose, it’s the influence of oak and tannins that’s contrasted here. Liquorice root, oak shavings, and tannins play off beautifully against marshmallow, molasses and vanilla pound cake.
The finish seems to last forever which took me by surprise as the intensity of this dram seemed so mellow. What’s left behind in your mouth is a different matter all together though. Dark chocolate mints, liquorice root, and manuka honey create a sense of intense heft that is simply a joy to savour for as long as possible.
Tasting Notes: Wild Turkey Old No. 8
ABV: 43,4% (86,8 Proof)
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery
Category: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
The nose of this dram is softer than what I’m used to from bourbon as well, but it comes much closer than the George Dickel did. The first thing I pick up is molasses, thick and heavy molasses like your grandmother used to make (the kind that will make the stick stand up straight in the jar). Behind that I’m finding a very pleasing herbal scent that seems a mixture of fennel, aniseed, and nutmeg. There are also some old cigar box notes in here, which in contrast to all the other flavours mentioned already makes for a wonderfully complex nose.
In comparison the palate is far less complex, albeit no less enjoyable. The molasses seems to turn into a thick apple syrup (Rinse appelstroop for the Dutchies) and it get’s paired with rum raisins. Which is still my favourite whisky note till date. The tannins are very noticeable in this dram as well, but their lighter than on the Dickel and remind me more of a popsicle stick than actual oak shavings. Some strawberry lemonade rounds it all off beautifully.
The finish is easily the best part of this dram. Easily not because the rest of the experience was lacking, but because the finish is just stellar. That strawbeery lemonade note I mentioned? It get’s dialed up to the max and a ton of other fruits get addes as well. There’s blackberries, currants, and raspberry. And there’s a sweetness to it that reminds me intensely of Fruit Drops (Fruittella’s ). Honey and a whiff of oak shavings linger in the back as well. The only possible flaw I can find is that it lasts shorter than the Dickel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a long finish. But I’d love to enjoy this finish even longer.
As you can probably tell from my ratings already, these two were very evenly matched. I can also safely state that I would never turn down a glass of either of these whiskies. The Wild Turkey ended up my favourite, but only ever so slight. In fact, the George Dickel won for me both on the nose and on the palate. But that finish on the Wild Turkey must be one of my favourite finishes of all time and for that it scored some extra points that put it ever so slightly above the Dickel. Either way, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with either one. So, if you happen to have a bottle of this at home: Pour yourself a glass, sit back and enjoy the fireworks for your senses. And if you’re celebrating the 4th of July in the States? Then sip it while watching the actual thing! Enjoy everyone!