PDA

View Full Version : Bought a bottle of Dickel #12 - Am confused



SFS
12-28-2012, 19:31
I hope I don't offend any Dickel fans with this post, but I'm honestly stumped.

I'm still adding to my list of what will be everyday pours, so I often try random stuff, particularly if it's less than $25 or so. So far those are 4R Yellow Label, ERSB10, and Breckenridge (though I'm looking for an everyday higher proof item too). Yesterday I decided to give Tennessee a try (after a long layoff) and bought a bottle of Dickel #12. I was almost offended. The nose was almost completely plastic (or vinyl), with what can only be described as hints of baby powder. Nothing stood out really on the palate, because this vinyl was so overpowering. I set it aside for about 10 minutes, and it got a little better. I was able to finish the pour (the smell lessened considerably with time), and by the end I could identify a few things in the finish, which was about average in length - I got some wood, and a lot of dryness, and something I would characterize as either charcoal, or chalk.

Now I know I'm new to SB, and I really don't want to get written off immediately as someone without a palate, because I don't believe that is the case at all. (Happy to discuss my notes on anything I've tasted, so we can calibrate to each other.) I'm wondering a) could I have a bad bottle; and b) does Dickel do something that no one else does (that "cold-chilling" step, or something else) that just isn't sitting well with me.

Pre-post edit: I am a chemist, and as a scientist I know better than to draw conclusions from limited (or incorrect) data. I'm sitting here with tonight's glass of the product. The vinyl/plastic smell is gone, but the high note in the nose is still best described as baby powder. I get slight amounts of vanilla, but overall the nose is pretty thin (synonym for weak/almost absent). The palate is also thin on flavor, though I get small amounts of tobacco. The finish is longer than last night, with a higher alcohol "burn" (I hate that word, because it generally has a bad connotation, and I personally don't think a burn is a bad thing in and of itself). I get none of the charcoal or chalk that I had last night, and on the fourth sip I am finally getting the wood that I had last night.

Additional info: 1) Same glass was used both nights, washed, rinsed with distilled water, then rinsed with laboratory grade ethanol and air-dried. It's not a Glencairn, it's just a square, open (straight-sided) glass (A Crown Royal Black commemorative glass actually).
2) Last night, the Dickel was preceded (earlier in the evening) by a small pour each of the Weller 12 and the OWA 107 in an A/B comparison. A couple of hours went by before the Dickel was poured.
3) Tonite, the Dickel was preceded (3 hours or so ago) by a 1.5 oz pour of Tomatin 12 Scotch.

Any thoughts on my last night's experience, or on this Dickel product? I'm not looking to start a war on my first day, but SB is a resource I want to use to its fullest.

BourbonJoe
12-28-2012, 20:37
Maybe you got an "off" bottle. Usually Dickel Orange Label is held in higher regard.
Joe :usflag:

HighInTheMtns
12-28-2012, 20:42
Chuck Cowdery recently posted something along the lines of: two whiskey experts can drink the same whiskey. One may find it amazing while the other hates it. Neither is wrong.

Things are agreeable to some and not to others. Things taste differently on different nights. I recommend you let that bottle sit for a while and come back to it. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe Dickel 12 isn't for you. It is not a favorite of mine.

For what it's worth, I'd recommend picking up a Glencairn or two, they make a difference.

ChainWhip
12-28-2012, 20:50
It's more than ok to have an opinion that goes counter to the prevailing wisdom. My personal "meh" is Ancient Ancient Age 10 - I don't get it on that one.

wadewood
12-28-2012, 21:06
got an open bottle right now and it's great. Also in past week sampled Tomatin 12, OWA 107, and the Weller 12. Dickel is different; if you don't like it, no problem; plenty of other choices.

T Comp
12-28-2012, 21:46
Additional info: 1) Same glass was used both nights, washed, rinsed with distilled water, then rinsed with laboratory grade ethanol and air-dried.

That C- in chemistry 101 is why my premed path ended rather quickly about 40 years ago but rinsing your glass with laboratory grade ethanol??? As to your plastic or vinyl or baby powder...maybe the same as the distinct vitamin bottle smell I get...we just categorize it differently. I like Dickel, usually have a bottle open which takes about 2 years to hit the recycle bin and seems to have a very stable and exact taste profile from bottle to bottle.

Gillman
12-29-2012, 03:26
I agree with Thad, I think what you are tasting is what some here also recognize as the "vitamins" taste, meaning a distinctive taste and smell akin to that of the crunchy skin of a vitamin. IIRC, the term was first used here by Jeff Yeast, an early BOTY and former prolific contributor. I feel it is a house flavor of George Dickel, probably resulting from the fermentation of the beer and carried into the new distillate after stilling. It is not my favourite taste in bourbon-style whiskey, but I enjoy it once in a while. I once bought off the retail shelf in San Francisco some Dickel (black label) distilled in the 70's and you could taste it in that too although more subdued than in current bottlings, which may mean the stocks were more aged then, or maybe there is another explanation.

I think most Dickel is consumed with cola and it works very well in that combination.

American straight whiskey often exhibits very distinctive flavors because of the secondary (non-ethanol) constituents generated by the yeast, and the type of yeast is important too. In Beam you get (to me) a characteristic funky/earthy note; most iterations of Four Roses are flowery/spicy; Woodford Reserve, which is all-pot-stilled, has a characteristic oily note, almost like some Irish single pot still or pot still rum, and so forth. Heaven Hill's are more neutral (to me again) and "clean" and is WR's stablemate, Old Fitzgerald 100 proof. Jack Daniels seems very estery with yellow fruit and mango notes. These are specific house characteristics and are to be prized as giving identity to each product and as always taste will differ - personal taste - as to their merits. It is also true that some people do not detect the flavors I've mentioned and fair enough, there is no fully agreed taxonomy of tastes although I do find often that there is agreement amongst regular tasters as to what they find.

Gary

Gillman
12-29-2012, 05:48
Sorry, I misspoke: Woodford Reserve is not all-pot-stilled; rather, the part of it that is distilled in Versailles, KY is pot-stilled. WR is a mingling of course of Brown-Forman's Versailles bourbon and bourbon it distills in Louisville in a conventional way (column still-and-doubler). I do find the pot still note prominent in WR, which is what I meant.

Gray

Enoch
12-29-2012, 06:03
I hope I don't offend any Dickel fans with this post, but I'm honestly stumped.

I'm still adding to my list of what will be everyday pours, so I often try random stuff, particularly if it's less than $25 or so. So far those are 4R Yellow Label, ERSB10, and Breckenridge (though I'm looking for an everyday higher proof item too).

Where do you get Breck for under $25. My daughter lives a few miles away from the distillery and usually brings me some when she visits but it costs around $40 there. It is a great young bourbon and I would drink it regularly if I could get it for $25 or so.

SFS
12-29-2012, 06:56
Where do you get Breck for under $25. My daughter lives a few miles away from the distillery and usually brings me some when she visits but it costs around $40 there. It is a great young bourbon and I would drink it regularly if I could get it for $25 or so.
Enoch, my apologies for the construction of that sentence. The list of bourbons was meant to link back to the "everyday pours" comment, not "the less than $25 comment". The $25 point is, for me, where I don't have to debate whether to spend the money to try something I know absolutely nothing about. Much above that, I'll do some research first, or apply the "flip a coin cause it may not be there tomorrow" mechanism.

In the two local stores that I'm in regularly, the Breckenridge is $38 in one and $47 in the other (those are pre-tax prices). For comparison, I can only find the 4RYL in one of those stores, and it's $20. ER10 is $28 in both stores, but the more expensive store has moved off the $30 price for that bottle (maybe to match prices?).

I'll be starting a thread on the Breckenridge, as I'd like some more input. I think it is a fine bourbon for 2 to 3 years in the barrel - remarkably complex, layered and well-balanced, with a relatively big nose (I enjoy big noses, especially on bourbons and Chardonnays). I know there has been some hullabaloo about putting "your name" on a product where the juice was sourced (Jason Pyle took a stance on his blog about Breck specifically), and this is sourced (so far) but it's good. I recommend it to everyone I meet that enjoys bourbon.

SFS
12-29-2012, 07:08
I agree with Thad, I think what you are tasting is what some here also recognize as the "vitamins" taste, meaning a distinctive taste and smell akin to that of the crunchy skin of a vitamin. IIRC, the term was first used here by Jeff Yeast, an early BOTY and former prolific contributor. I feel it is a house flavor of George Dickel, probably resulting from the fermentation of the beer and carried into the new distillate after stilling. It is not my favourite taste in bourbon-style whiskey, but I enjoy it once in a while. I once bought off the retail shelf in San Francisco some Dickel (black label) distilled in the 70's and you could taste it in that too although more subdued than in current bottlings, which may mean the stocks were more aged then, or maybe there is another explanation.

I think most Dickel is consumed with cola and it works very well in that combination.

American straight whiskey often exhibits very distinctive flavors because of the secondary (non-ethanol) constituents generated by the yeast, and the type of yeast is important too. In Beam you get (to me) a characteristic funky/earthy note; most iterations of Four Roses are flowery/spicy; Woodford Reserve, which is all-pot-stilled, has a characteristic oily note, almost like some Irish single pot still or pot still rum, and so forth. Heaven Hill's are more neutral (to me again) and "clean" and is WR's stablemate, Old Fitzgerald 100 proof. Jack Daniels seems very estery with yellow fruit and mango notes. These are specific house characteristics and are to be prized as giving identity to each product and as always taste will differ - personal taste - as to their merits. It is also true that some people do not detect the flavors I've mentioned and fair enough, there is no fully agreed taxonomy of tastes although I do find often that there is agreement amongst regular tasters as to what they find.

Gary
Thanks Gary. "Vitamins" would not have been a terrible word to use, had I thought of it. In retrospect, it would be pretty accurate.

And your general descriptions of house traits will help me. I agree with you, for instance on the 4R products - I tried the SmB before the YL and actually didn't care for it, it was too floral. (That Q yeast must be something). I'm now reluctant to try their Single Barrel for that reason, though the YL is very, very drinkable. Would like to try their SBLe, but can't find it anywhere. (Also cant find any Old Fitzgerald of any kind anywhere).

I've seen the word "oily" applied here on the forum several times, and it intrigues me, as mouthfeel is an important part of my experience when tasting.

ebo
12-29-2012, 07:27
I'm big fan of Dickel #12. I have never experienced what you are describing. It sounds like you just found a bad bottle. It could just be as simple as you not liking it, which is perfectly fine. I don't care for FR Yellow Label at all, but there are quite a few people here who disagree with me. Different strtokes.... it's all good. :toast:

sailor22
12-29-2012, 10:55
Just to echo the YMMV theme, I enjoy a pour of Dickle 12 occasionally but think Breckenridge is overpriced, thin, watery and barely good enough to use as a mixer at a frat party and will never buy another bottle. Neither of us are wrong.

I do sometimes get the Vitamins taste that Gary spoke of but it is typically so far in the background that it doesn't detract from the honey sweetness and tobacco interplay I enjoy. Not complex or challenging but simply a tasty product of the charcoal filtering process, Dickle 12 is to my palate the most successful of the easy to find Tennessee whiskeys.

squire
12-29-2012, 11:19
sailor22 pretty much summed up my thoughts.

Bourserker
12-29-2012, 11:58
I agree with Thad, I think what you are tasting is what some here also recognize as the "vitamins" taste, meaning a distinctive taste and smell akin to that of the crunchy skin of a vitamin.
You guys nailed it! I bought a 375ml of Dickel #12 because it is so highly regarded, and I just haven't gotten into it. That "vitamin" taste is exactly why. To me JD also has a similar though less prominent flavor. I often wondered if it has to do with the charcoal filtering as to me both JD and GD have similar flavor profiles where they taste like bourbon, but all the typical bourbon flavors are more muted for lack of a better term.


I tried the SmB before the YL and actually didn't care for it, it was too floral. (That Q yeast must be something). I'm now reluctant to try their Single Barrel for that reason, though the YL is very, very drinkable.
I haven't had the FRYL yet, but I have had the FRSmB and the FRSB. To me the small batch and single barrel products are totally different. The single barrel is my favorite whiskey (out of about the 50 or so I've tried) and I'm not a huge fan of the small batch. I like the small batch occasionally, but the single barrel is the whiskey I would chose if I were in the "stranded on and island and I could only pick one" scenario. I highly recommend trying it out if you get a chance.

Gillman
12-29-2012, 13:15
I think the muting is exactly right and it comes from one thing: maple charcoal leaching before barreling.

I don't think the house flavors of JD and GD are from the charcoal though, I think it is a by-product of the yeast's reproduction, possibly too from reactions ongoing in the maturing spirit.

To me, oily can mean a tallow-like smell, waxy, and I understand these are higher alcohols (fusels) that are aromatic and indeed can give body to the drink. Sometimes they seem cleanser-like but I am not sure if it is the same group of compounds.

Gary

SFS
12-29-2012, 13:16
You guys nailed it! I bought a 375ml of Dickel #12 because it is so highly regarded, and I just haven't gotten into it. That "vitamin" taste is exactly why. To me JD also has a similar though less prominent flavor. I often wondered if it has to do with the charcoal filtering as to me both JD and GD have similar flavor profiles where they taste like bourbon, but all the typical bourbon flavors are more muted for lack of a better term.


I haven't had the FRYL yet, but I have had the FRSmB and the FRSB. To me the small batch and single barrel products are totally different. The single barrel is my favorite whiskey (out of about the 50 or so I've tried) and I'm not a huge fan of the small batch. I like the small batch occasionally, but the single barrel is the whiskey I would chose if I were in the "stranded on and island and I could only pick one" scenario. I highly recommend trying it out if you get a chance.

OK, I'll put it next on my list to buy. What's your take on the 4R Limited Edition SB? I haven't ever seen a bottle, much less tasted it.

PaulO
12-29-2012, 14:07
I too have given Dickel #12 a couple chances. I know some people really like it, but I couldn't get into it. The nose reminds me of opening the box of a new pair of dress shoes. I've also noticed this with some mezcal. The taste of Dickel #12 reminds me of Scotch in a way, except without peat.

ILLfarmboy
12-29-2012, 15:11
Wow, this thread sure goes to show that different people experience the same tastes differently.

Dickel #12 doesn't remind me of scotch at all. (FR bottlings perhaps, because they seem dry and flowery)

Dickel doesn't remind me much of JD either. GD's got that vitamin thing going on, which I like, and JD tastes of soot and yellow fruit, to me anyhow.

Eddited:

I should of said JD has that bananna smell. There are some scotches, Like Glenfiddich 12 that remind me of another yellow fruit; ripe bartlet pears.

steeltownbbq
12-29-2012, 15:45
I'm a GD 12 fan, and generally keep a bottle open for when I want to taste something different.

I'm intrigued with the "vitamin" comments, because I don't get that at all.

I just opened a new bottle and put a pour in a glencarin to see if I can get the "vitamin" note. I'm still not getting it.

squire
12-29-2012, 15:55
I understand what others mean when they say Dickel has a vitamin note but it's not something I find bothersome. The fact they keep the No. 12 at 90 proof gets a vote from me.

darylld911
12-29-2012, 16:35
My experience with Dickel has been that it is just too smooth for my liking (doesn't have as much character to me as others for similar dough). But as many have pointed out - everyone's taste varies. I prefer Evan Williams neat over both Jim Beam and Jack Daniels (despite both of those outselling EW by a wide margin). I don't think that makes me wrong, nor are others right. Just different. I'd just keep trying new things - that's the most fun for me! I found that I didn't care for Pappy (not that it was bad, but I don't enjoy it as much as $40 bourbon). Be true to your taste. I think Joe has often said "If you're not having fun - you're doing it wrong!"

Bourserker
12-29-2012, 18:32
OK, I'll put it next on my list to buy. What's your take on the 4R Limited Edition SB? I haven't ever seen a bottle, much less tasted it.
Well, I can't comment on it as I've never had it either. I got into bourbon right about a year ago, and I collect premium bottles for consumption whenever I get around to them so I have both limited edition bottlings for 2012 but haven't cracked one open yet. One thing to remember is that FR has 10 different recipes. The small batch is a melding of 4 of the recipes, and the single barrel is their OBSV recipe. The YL label is some melding of most or all the recipes (someone who knows can correct me here). The Limited Edition bottlings are "one offs" where they change yearly. This year the SB is an OESK recipe, and the SmB is a medling of 2 different aged OBSVs, an OESK, and an OBSK. My palette tends to enjoy higher rye whiskies, and the "B" signifies the higher rye mashbill (35%).

Lazer
12-29-2012, 19:45
I had a bottle of GD12 over the summer and in my experience it was a little off when I first opened it, but after it had 3 or 4 pours out of it and a week or so of sitting on the shelf, it opened up nicely and was really amazing. It just needed some time. Sometimes the best whiskeys require a little patience. :cool:

shoshani
12-29-2012, 20:10
I agree with Thad, I think what you are tasting is what some here also recognize as the "vitamins" taste, meaning a distinctive taste and smell akin to that of the crunchy skin of a vitamin.

An interesting way to put it. When I was a very young child my mother became a vitamin fiend; she made me take, among other things, brewer's yeast pills which I chewed up and swallowed. The first time I was able to try Dickel No. 12, a couple of years ago, that's the first thing that hit me - that thick note of brewer's yeast, both in the flavor and the aroma. I found it a bit off-putting and it took me quite a while to warm to it.

Gillman
12-30-2012, 01:30
Here is the original posting suggesting a vitamins-like taste, back on April 2, 2003:

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?1557-Is-my-Dickel-bad/page4&highlight=vitamins

The ensuing discussion was very interesting, eliciting a rare, and concurring, post from Jim Butler in March of that year!

Gary

tmckenzie
12-30-2012, 06:03
Dickel as I have said before is one of the best things on the market. I get the vitamins taste, and I like it. I think is is a combination of the high corn content in the mash way they use their charcoal. I would love to taste their white dog to see what part the charcoal adds.

Gillman
12-30-2012, 06:58
A good point Tom. I know Mike Veach has said that the distinctive estery note in JD can be tasted in the white dog. I would doubt it is created by the charcoal, as opposed to the sooty element, but who knows.

Gary

SFS
02-02-2013, 05:33
Thought I'd give an update. 35 days of air time improved this situation greatly. The nose is still overwhelmingly vitamin, plus basic "bourbon-y" aroma, but there is none of the plastic/vinyl thing going on, and no baby powder. On the palate, the vitamin taste is not nearly as prevalent as it is in the nose - what I get is mostly (simple) whiskey. It's not complex at all, and it's just the slightest bit sweet, and smooth. I finished the pour with no complaints. The vitamin thing could be a bit off putting, but it could also be something to become attached to for some folks. I don't think I will become attached to it, but I can see how it's interesting enough for some people to like it, as a smell.

So I find the whisky itself is now drinkable, and I will reach for the bottle occasionally, when I want something a little different. Still don't think I would purchase another bottle, but this one will not go down the drain.

Gillman
02-02-2013, 13:14
Interesting and fair comments, thanks for this. One thing I would suggest is, try another bottle, maybe the black label. Each bottle can be different and even atypical. GD comes I believe in smaller bottles too. You may even find it useful to mingle a 200 ml or two with what you bought.

Gary

ebo
02-02-2013, 15:39
I just bought another bottle of GD #12. I'm not the least bit confused. I always have this on hand, and it never disappoints. At $20 this stuff is one of the best value pours to be had, IMO.

squire
02-02-2013, 16:06
It's even better at $16.95.

SFS
02-02-2013, 16:21
I just bought another bottle of GD #12. I'm not the least bit confused. I always have this on hand, and it never disappoints. At $20 this stuff is one of the best value pours to be had, IMO.
Maybe that's part of the issue, it's $22 here, and for a couple dollars more I can get EWSB.

Squire, thanks for the suggestions, but Dickel will not be getting any more of my money, regardless of the size of the bottles (or the investment).

ebo
02-02-2013, 17:49
Actually, I think it's the same price here, now. I like EWSB a lot, but I still think GD#12 is a great pour for the money.