Every Tennessee whiskey drinker knows the name Jack Daniel's, but if you're a real fan of the good stuff, you should know the name George Dickel. As founder of the Geo. A. Dickel & Co., he started what it now the second most popular brand of Tennessee whisky in the world. Get to know the man behind the distillery and the place George Dickel Tennessee Whisky has in whiskey history today.
George A. Dickel was born in Germany in 1818. He immigrated to the United States in 1844, settling in Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened a retail store in 1852. He began selling whisky during the Civil War and gained a reputation for selling the smoothest whiskey in the region; by the time the war ended, he was one of the biggest liquor sellers in Nashville.
In 1868, he founded Geo. A. Dickel & Co. to buy whiskey from distillers in Tennessee and Kentucky. A decade later, George Dickel bought into the Cascade Hollow Distillery in neighboring Coffee County. That same year, Maclin Davis became the company's master distiller. Almost Tennessee whiskey uses the charcoal filtering technique called the Lincoln County Process, but Davis created an additional process to cool the sour mash beforehand. Cooling the whiskey is said to create a smoother and more mellow flavor.
And if you're wondering about whiskey versus whisky, Scottish distillers spell it without the "e". George Dickel preferred that spelling, so while some Tennessee whiskies are "whiskey," George Dickel whiskies are "whisky."
George Dickel died in 1894, and his brother-in-law Victor Schwab, who was a partner in the company, took over Dickel's role in the company along with Augusta Dickel, George's widow. Although the distillery did close because of Prohibition, the company survived by making Cascade Whisky as a medicinal spirit with leased equipment at the Stitzel distillery in Kentucky. In 1958, they began distilling whiskey again in a new location just down the road from the original George Dickel Distillery location.
Today, the Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee and makes up 7 percent of all Tennessee whiskey produced and sold worldwide. The brand is owned by spirit conglomerate Diageo. General manager and distiller Nicole Austin produces eight whiskies, most of which start with the same mash bill of 84 percent corn, eight percent rye and eight percent malted barley, including a Bottled in Bond that was named the top-rated American Whiskey of 2019, a single barrel 15-year-old whisky and a barrel select whisky aged for at least nine years. Their 45 percent ABV George Dickel rye whisky has a mash bill of 95 percent rye and five percent malted barley.
A New Chapter
Earlier this year the team at George A. Dickel & Co. launched the Cascade Moon Whisky series - a brand new line of highly limited whiskies that are sure to be sought after by whisky fans around the country and pay homage to the distillery's history. Inspired by Cascade Hollow's original Cascade Pure Whisky that used the tagline 'mellow as moonlight', Cascade Moon Edition No. 1 features bright and fruity notes of raspberry, pineapple, and coconut along with the flavor of savory pretzels.
The distillery's visitor center is open for tastings.