Can lightning strike twice? 2019’s 13 year old Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whiskey from George Dickel won all kinds of raves, including from yours truly — proving that a $35 bourbon could go toe to toe with some of the best whiskeys in America. This follow-up edition arrived in mid-2020, an 11 year old made from the standard Dickel mash and which was distilled in the fall of 2008.
And so — let’s follow.
What’s clear from the start is this is a sweeter style of whiskey than Dickel dropped last year. The nose has an austerity that’s driven by barrel char, licorice, and the more savory elements of the spice box, but there’s a layer beneath all that which speaks to molasses and brown sugar. The latter elements pop dramatically on the palate, which bursts with dark brown sugar and caramel corn notes. As the initial rush of sweetness fades, the whiskey turns to flavors driven more by corn than caramel, with a hefty layer of baking spice coming on strong on the finish. Cloves primarily emerge on the conclusion, with some lingering roasted peanut character.
While I’m an unabashed fan of sweeter bourbons, Dickel’s 11 year old Bottled-in-Bond does lack more than a little of the balance and intrigue of last year’s 13 year old. I’d normally say it’s unfair to compare an 11 year old whiskey to a 13 year old — but this one costs $5 more per bottle, so…