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George Dickel Whisky - 95% rye mash


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I bought this the other day at LCBO (in Toronto). The label reads as the subject line above states. It's a green label. In searching the bottle images though (all American clearly), the label is different, it reads: George Dickel Rye Whisky. I can't tell if the 95% rye mash (or 95% rye) wording is on that label, presumably it is, and the reviews online (e.g. Chuck's) refer to the 95% rye, 5% barley malt grist. One review though (linked in the comments to Chuck's 2012 posting on Dickel Rye) states it has a strong oaky nose and oak is prominent in the taste.

My bottle has virtually no nose, and little oak in the taste.

What I'm wondering is, are we getting a non-rye whiskey in Canada, i.e., rye mash whiskey aged in reused barrels but (presumably) filtered with the Tullahoma chilled charcoal?

Or are both bottles the same with a change in labelling for Canada? But why would we need a change of labelling? At first I thought perhaps because "rye whisky" here means Canadian whisky, yet we also have at LCBO Knob Creek rye and Bulleit rye. Bulleit rye states that its whiskey is "American", so a point of difference there, but I'm pretty sure Knob Creek rye on the shelves here states: Knob Creek rye whiskey.

Any thoughts? I'll try to upload a picture of my bottle.

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I don't know Gary though it appears the Canadian label is emphasizing the 95% rye to differentiate Dickel from 90% Canadian rye mash bills.

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Well, could be just a labelling quirk, hard to say. Anyway I like the drink a lot.

Gary

P.S. Rittenhouse too, often available here, says simply straight rye whiskey.

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Does the label say distilled in Indiana? The ones I've seen do. Anytime I see 95% and rye, I think Lawrenceburg, IN. I like the Dickel Rye too, the KC Rye not so much.

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I'll offer a couple of observations.

First, the Dickel Rye we have here now tastes substantially the same as the Dickel Rye I tasted in New York last year. Obviously this is from memory and not a side-by-side comparison, but my strong impression is that it's the same whiskey.

Canada is a relatively tiny market for Diageo. It would probably cost them more to set up a separate manufacturing process for the product sold in Canada than they could ever save by switching to used barrels for our portion.

For both Dickel and Bulleit Rye (which was also recently introduced here), Diageo have created new bilingual labels for Canada. This is good news, since it means they plan on keeping the brands around in Canada for the foreseeable future. They don't bother with that type of design work when it's a one-off, limited availability import. But, to make room for all of the French translation on the label, they've made some interesting content changes to the language. It's hard to say whether these are on-purpose or just the result of word-crowding on the label. The word Tennessee is also absent, but not as surprising since Dickel has virtually zero brand recognition here.

I work in marketing, and I have in the past worked with marketing department at Diageo Canada. The process for getting labels designed and approved would boggle your mind. The sheer number of people who have an opinion, or something to add at a company like Diageo is absurd. George Dickel Whisky - 95% Rye Mash would fall under their "Brown Spirits" portfolio. So, for example, the Brand Manager for Crown Royal might have objected to the term "Rye Whisky" being on the label and potentially cannibalizing his sales. That would trigger a redesign for the Dickel label. I'm not saying that's what happened, but it could have been something like that.

For those interested, here is the Canadian label (please excuse the rough cropping).

post-7760-14489820627232_thumb.jpg

Whisky labelling regulations in Canada are famously less strict than they are in the US. The term "Rye Whiskey" has little meaning here, as it has been historically confused with the term "Canadian Whisky." The word "Straight" has even less purchase. In this setting it's not surprising that Diageo tinkers with the wording. They have the freedom to do so.

post-7760-14489820626787_thumb.jpg

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You could be right. I've had Dickel rye numerous times from the States, and thought those were oakier, but that's hard to say.

Diageo wouldn't set up a separate production line for a Canadian rye mash - it would sell it elsewhere too ( even the States, maybe) if it was interested to market an extension of the line.

Actually, rye whisky is defined in our law as synonymous with Canadian whisky to mean a whisky distilled, mashed and aged in Canada.

Presumably the American stuff is okay by virtue of being stated as U.S.of origin.

You may be right of course anyway. But the bottle I had has virtually no nose, which got me thinking. But it could be a batch variation.

Gary

Edited by Gillman
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Gary raises an interesting point about selling it in markets other than Canada. They could have one batch for the US, and then another for the rest of the world that they age in used barrels. Who knows? It makes you wonder: if true, how does this dovetail with their current lobbying efforts in Tennessee?

It's also curious that the US label omits the word "Straight."

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I was under the impression MGP did the aging and Dickel bought a finished product, so it would depend on MGP aging practices.

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It's odd too (IMO) that the side label speaks of chilling, then filtering through sugar maple charcoal, then letting the whiskey "rest" before bottling, "as long as it needs to". What's that all about? Does the U.S. bottle say that too?

Gary

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Dickel has long practiced chilling whisky prior to filtering and usually make a point of mentioning that on their labels. I don't see how 'resting' would change anything though.

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This whiskey presumably wasn't put through the Tullahoma maple charcoal vat when freshly distilled; I've inferred (from various sources) the filtering occurs at the other end, after dumping. Maybe after that filtering it is held in glass or ceramic tanks for a while, this is possible.

Gary

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Yes, of course Gary, I was merely pointing out Dickel usually mentions on their label (and in their ads) chilling the whisky prior to filtering. After filtering I'm sure it would be collected in some large holding vessel but I don't see how it can be improved by 'resting' unless it is to meld the various barrels that were selected for that dump run.

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Well, this has been done: holding in tanks, even when not made of wood, is considered to meld the product. (One thinks e.g. of VWFRR 13 years old held in tanks after mixing two 18 year old ryes. Part of the reason is simply to conserve between bottlings, but no doubt a "settled" character is sought too by this process).

The wording is a bit unclear though, I wonder if the people who wrote it were confused by reference to the standard procedure for George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. A lot of time (clearly) was spent confecting the label but I confess to some uncertainty what is meant on a number of points. Of course for the general market this is irrelevant.

It is very good though, well worth the money (i.e., even with the premium Canucks pay for these imports).

Gary

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Interestingly, Diageo are doing the same bizarre word dance on their Canadian Bulleit Rye label:

post-7760-14489820658052_thumb.jpg

On this one, they kept "Straight," but again stop short of calling it "Rye Whisky."

post-7760-14489820657779_thumb.jpg

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The game's afoot yet we are but mere spectators in the unfolding of mighty events in Diageoworld.

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Good catch Smithford re the Bulleit although the word "straight" would seem to suggest it is straight rye. The term straight isn't used on the Dickel.

The more I think on it, it may be that for "permanent" listings (hence French co-labeling as Smithford noted), the intent is not to use the term "rye whisky" in view of that being considered a Canadian product.

Gary

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I think you're right.

Knob Creek Rye, Wild Turkey Rye and Rittenhouse are all sold here with the term "Rye Whisky" on the label. But none of their makers have a horse in the Canadian Whisky race the same way Diageo do.

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Also perhaps those aren't intended to be permanently carried here, the Ritt comes in occasionally, the other two are relatively new. It may of course reflect too just a different approach by their regulatory and legal people. Hard to say.

Gary

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