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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Wild Turkey, Kentucky, USA

Confession time, I did not take the distillery tour.  This was my sixth and final stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and I did go to the Visitor Center and get my KBT passport stamped and completed, but I arrived around 1pm and the next tour was not until 2:30pm.  However the nice people at the distillery suggested I watch a video they use at start of tour and join the tasting when the 12:30 tour got back.  As there was no tour for another 90 minutes and no cafe or similar where I could eat lunch, I accepted their offer.  The video was the "usual fare" with father and son Jimmy and Eddie Russell taking the viewer on a virtual tour of the distillery stage by stage, however before the video finished the tour group came back and the tasting began.  Wild Turkey had the best choice of any distillery I visited on the KBT, and we were invited to choose  two samples from the full range of bourbon and rye whiskies, standard and premium brands.  I chose one of my favorites, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the Russell Reserve Rye.   They also sold a nice range of mini bottles (I bought the Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed and their American Honey liqueur) in their gift shop.

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George Dickel, Tennessee, USA

George Dickel, Tennessee, USA

I was lucky to spend my birthday in 2013 visiting the two major distilleries in Tennessee and this was the first one. The thing that immediately struck me about George Dickel was the fantastic setting… perhaps only rivaled by Woodford Reserve for major US distilleries I have seen. The site is also the only distillery that is also a US Post Office… so another first for me and another useless piece of trivia. This site was actually established in 1958 long after the original Mr Dickel and his distillery had perished but all the recipes and techniques had been preserved and are still used today. The original site was a short way up the road and we snapped a picture of the entrance as we drove away later on. The tour I took was free (they offer a tasting tour as well but that was later in the day) and started with a short eight minute DVD in the very nice visitor’s center. Being the “other distillery” in Tennessee has clearly influenced their tour and messaging. When describing their distillery the words “unique in Tennessee” were used a lot which was interesting and basically shorthand for “not like Jack Daniel’s” and included the ‘facts’ that they burned all their charcoal on site, that they double distilled their spirit (which may not be technically accurate as I asked when I toured JD and they said they did double distill) and they chill the whisky before charcoal mellowing. This is said to be because Mr. Dickel considered the whisky to taste better in the winter than the summer. You may also note I spell it as whisky ie no “e”.  This again is a “unique in Tennessee” tradition said to be started by Mr. Dickel who declared (a southern gent always declares in my mind) that his whisky was as good as the finest scotch and so adopted their spelling. I bought two bottles at the distillery shop afterwards, the No 12 and the Barrel Reserve. I also learned that the different expressions are all the same grain recipe (84% corn, 8% rye and 8% malt), the only difference between No 8, No 12 and Barrel Reserve is aging. No 8 is 5 -7 years old, No 12 is 8 – 10 years old and Barrel Reserve is 12 – 14 years old. The Dickel Rye is actually made in Indiana and contains 95% rye (if you are interested). You are? Good. So was I.

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