Review: George Dickel Bourbon 8 Years Old

Review: George Dickel Bourbon 8 Years Old

This new bottling from Dickel flew a bit under the radar when it was released this summer, but it merits discussion, as it’s a new permanent member of the George Dickel lineup, carrying an age statement of 8 years old.

At first it may seem there’s not a whole lot to the story — it’s made with the classic Dickel mashbill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley — but the not-so-fine print indicates a twist. This is “bourbon,” not “Tennessee whiskey,” marking the first time the brand has used the B word on any of its labels. The story of why it’s calling this bourbon isn’t entirely meaningful, with some marketing about how Dickel wanted to find a home for barrels in its stocks that had “more traditional bourbon notes and did not express the Tennessee whiskey tasting characteristics found in the rest of the George Dickel offerings.” While that may be accurate, it’s important to note this is actually the same base product that goes into Dickel’s other Tennessee whiskey releases. Nothing wrong with that, though. Whiskey producers earmark certain barrels for different brands all the time.

So, got all that? Let’s taste.

Maybe Dickel’s on to something with this brand extension: I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a more straightforwardly sweeter expression of Dickel — ever. The nose has a traditional vanilla and caramel note that’s kept in check by ample barrel char elements, tempering initial expectations. But that all changes when you tuck into the palate, where powerful notes of butterscotch, vanilla custard, candy corn, and — well, you get the idea — all emerge in short order. It’s like the toppings bar at your favorite frozen yogurt joint, full of confections each more decadent than the next. The finish is enduringly, almost tooth-achingly sweet, all caramel corn with syrup on top.

This is not really a serious whiskey, but it’s certainly not an unlikeable one, either. I would (and will) use it for cocktails, where the slightly elevated proof will shine — and the sweetness will allow for some restraint against the use of simple syrup and its ilk.

90 proof.


George Dickel Bourbon 8 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. John on March 8, 2022 at 7:26 am

    When it comes to food and drink, I don’t understand the word “serious,” since it is utterly meaningless when describing stuff we consume for sensory pleasure. If it’s used to describe the effort, passion, and skill people put into making a product, fine. By that standard the guy who runs my favorite taco truck is on par with Pierre Gagnaire–and I’d bet the people who make George Dickel whiskey are just as serious as the folks who make any other well made spirit. But in this review, like so many other whiskey reviews I’ve read, I suspect the word serious is either subconsciously, or worse, intentionally, used to describe the reviewer rather than what’s in the bottle: “My palate has transcended those easy-to-like flavors that a mere novice might find inviting.” This is why almost every serious food and drink critic never uses the word serious. If amateur reviewers have become so jaded that the flavors most commonly produced when grains are mashed, distilled, and aged in American oak, have become somehow “unserious” they should write a disclaimer–not take it out on whatever they’re reviewing.

    • Christopher Null on March 8, 2022 at 9:17 am

      Thanks for that perspective, John. But I think in this case I am in fact implying that there was neither a lot of effort nor passion put into this product.

    • Christopher Null on March 8, 2022 at 10:28 am

      I also think “unserious” is an acceptable synonym for “uncomplicated,” as is the converse. But I do agree that the term isn’t overwhelmingly loaded with meaning. We feel the same way here about the terms “smooth” and “tasty” — neither of which we generally allow in reviews. Again, appreciate the perspective.

  2. Bruno on May 10, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    I love the raw nerves set off by a pet peeve. John calls out “serious,” and Christopher reluctantly backs up his use of the cliched term. Both comments were well articulated, but an explanation for “unserious?” That was a joking usage of an unword, right?

    I agree Dickel Bourbon is sweet, but hardly above average bourbon sweetness. It was clearly designed as a value product.

    Smooth and tasty are probably poor choices for a review. Tasty needs elaboration, but we all know what smooth means, and alternative, more specific descriptions are difficult to come by. “Unharsh?” “Untannic?” “Unburning?”

  3. Stefan M. on December 20, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    Whatever jazz one might describe as “smooth” isn’t jazz in the first place. Stick with #12!

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