Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 32
  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,094

    Can YOU explain?

    Sampling my 10 year old George Dickel Single Barrel recently, I was struck by the radical difference in flavour between this whiskey and (any version of) Jack Daniel. Almost any bourbon I know tastes much closer to any other bourbon than these two whiskies. What explains it? They are made from similar mashbills, both are leached through ground maple charcoal, both are aged in new charred barrels. Neither (as far as I know) uses artificial coloring or flavoring. Can it be the yeast? Differences in warehouses and location do not seem enough to explain the difference. Jack has the signature candy-like taste. Dickel is more smoky-tasting and has a mineral, "vitamin" taste. Why doesn't Dickel have Jack's perfumed candy/anise flavour, or vice versa?

    I can't explain, dizzy in the head and feeling blue.

    Gary

  2. #2

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    One difference is that Dickel is filtered in a temp-controlled, chilled maple pile. I don't know if that would account for the difference since it's at a different stage of the process, but chill filtering sure does with bourbon -- at least in appearance.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,094

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    I read somewhere (was it in Chuck's "Bourbon - Straight"?) that Jim Backus said the chill-filtering is meant to copy the taste of the white dog when made in the winter. So some Dickel in the past (before chill-filtering was adopted) tasted no doubt like the chill-filtered dog does now. Or putting it a different way, some Jack Daniel (at least the Single Barrel) must be made in the winter and so should reflect an effect similar to that produced in George Dickel by chilling the leaching vats. I am assuming the leaching vessels at JD are outdoors or in unheated rooms, which maybe is an incorrect assumption, though. Anyway I can only speculate but I wonder if the chilling process can account for the large difference in taste between JD and Geo. Dickel. I note by the way on the great bourbons website of Sazerac Brands the statement that a new chill-filtering system has been adopted for Ancient Age. I assume this chilling is done before bottling, not before barreling as in the case of George Dickel. Still, I note a cleanness of taste in the bonded Ancient Age I tried recently, and Dickel has that too, but the resemblance ends there!.

    Gary

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,610

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    The fact that both whiskies are made in Tennessee and use the Lincoln County Process shouldn't tempt anyone to expect them to taste the same. Every whiskey tastes the way its maker intends it to taste and factors such as yeast strain, water source, proof of distillation, and the construction and operation of the still are some of the tools the distiller uses to achieve the desired result. Most significant of all is the taste profile target, which is achieved by monitoring the whiskey as it ages, harvesting it at just the right time, and combining it with other, differently-aged barrels as necessary to achieve the target.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,094

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    Of the factors you mentioned, only yeast seems likely in my view to make a major difference. Even there it is hard to see that it alone can explain why one tastes so different from the other. Most bourbon tastes similar (broadly speaking), yet all the different factors you mentioned work in that arena as well, why then are the book ends in bourbon closer than those that bracket (am I mixing metaphors, Dave?) Dickel and Daniel? Maybe I should mingle the two.. Just kidding.

    Gary

  6. #6
    Guru
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Central Arizona (near Prescott), U.S.A.
    Posts
    4,235

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    (am I mixing metaphors, Dave?)
    Gary,

    Let's just agree to call it "mingling", which as we all know is a wholly different thing.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,610

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    You still seem to be starting from the premise that because both whiskies are made in Tennessee and use the Lincoln County Process they should taste the same, or more similar than they do, which is not a valid premise. Is either outside the taste range of American straight whiskey? That's the standard you should use and that's why all the variables that can account for taste differences with regard to American straight whiskies come into play.

    One fact I didn't mention before. I believe Dickel on the whole to be significantly older than Daniel's. That would account for a significant difference right there.

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,094

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    I am focusing on Tennessee charcoal leaching, the uniqueness of which is asserted by the Tennessee distillers, effectively with U.S. Government backing. One would think something in Jack Daniel and George Dickel should taste very similar due to sharing the unique trait of a lengthy pre-barreling filtration in ground maple charcoal. Yet, that is not the case. Therefore, one must conclude that method confers no detectable unique character. For example, one might have thought the pungent, liquorice-like taste of Jack Daniel is the result of that leaching. This cannot be so, however, since the very similar leaching received by George Dickel confers no such character on that whisky, nor can its age in relation to that of JD alone account for this difference, in my view. The same applies in reverse, nothing in George Dickel (e.g. the vitamin-like taste) can be detected in Jack Daniel and therefore that taste cannot itself be derived from the multi-day leaching in charcoal. And so I ask myself (am I sounding like David Byrne here, I thought I was using allusion to The Who for humor) why does Jack Daniel, which tastes like no other straight whiskey, taste like it does? If (as I accept) it is not flavored or colored artificially what accounts for its distinctive flavour, one no other straight whiskey comes close to? I can ask the same question of Dickel but it is more bourbon-like than Jack; it is the palate of Jack, the pre-eminent Tennessee whiskey, I find most hard to deconstruct. Recently I participated in a tasting of bourbons and Jack Daniel conducted "blind". All the experienced tasters identified Jack Daniel. Yet no one was able, out of 6 or 7 whiskies, to identify more than one or two of the bourbons even though the tasters in most cases knew the whiskies well (and were shown the line-up before the glasses were brought in from a separate room). What accounts for this taste if it is not the Lincoln County Process?

    Gary

  9. #9
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    455

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    You seem to be really ignoring what I call The Distiller's Art, and I think
    that the variables in whiskey making are much more complex and interesting
    than you realize.

    I think that we've converged, to a certain extent, on an Expected Taste
    Profile for American whiskies... there are certain characteristics that
    we consider mainstream and customary. Don't make the mistake, though, of
    thinking that this taste profile is easy to achieve, and just naturally
    happens if we follow a simple recipe!

    There are a few experiments that homebrew clubs perform every now and again
    for fun to illustrate exactly how complex the variables they're working with
    can be. One fun one (okay, as a scientist, I have perhaps a different idea
    of fun than most people...) is to make up a big batch of wort, and divide it
    into four parts, and use different yeast to ferment each part. So you
    keep all variables the same except the strain of yeast. The result: you can
    really get some radically different beers just by changing the type of yeast.

    To the casual observer, the processes are the same: yeast was added, and
    fermentation occurred. But the beers have such different character! Same
    exact process, one small tweak... and large variation in results.

    Similarly, the act of distillation is a HUGE variable. I'll bet that if
    you take the same distiller's beer and put it in three different stills, and
    distill it off to the same proof, you'll get different flavor profiles.

    Over the years, we've figured out how to tweak all these variables to get
    something recognizable as American whiskey. It's all in the tweaking, because
    there's huge variation possible. I'll bet that any bourbon distillery in
    the country (well, the ones that use rye...) could make a bourbon that tastes
    like Jack Daniels if they put their mind to it, just by tweaking their existing
    processes. The tweaking is the Distiler's Art.

    Tim Dellinger

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,094

    Re: Can YOU explain?

    Tim, you make many points I agree with. The George Dickel website, which I only thought of checking after writing these posts, mentions the important contribution to flavor made by the house yeast. The distillery claims it is different from any used by another distillery.

    I guess what I am really saying in this thread is, I am surprised the Lincoln County Process leaves no footprint and therefore seems to lack significance. I hadn't tried Dickel in a long time. Finally, I had the chance. I assumed it would resemble JD and that both would show a common effect from the charcoal mellowing. They do not. At most, I think the Lincoln County process serves as a quick aging method. Today that is not as significant as in the mid-1800's when most whiskey was sold very young.

    I still wonder what produces the strong anise-like flavor in JD and whether yeast alone can do it.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Ok could some one please explain this .....
    By WEG3 in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 12-19-2002, 23:33

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top