16 July 2007


TPP welcomes guest contributor MARCUS CRAPULARIUS, noted whiskey expert, who will keep the "spirits" flowing with trenchant commentary on the 'water of life.'

George Dickel is the other name in Tennessee Whiskey. Bourbon is not just a drink, it is a legal definition. In order to call something bourbon, it must be made in America. It must be made from a grain bill that is at least 51% corn (maize). And it must be aged in charred oak barrels. New barrels--use them once and once only. Then send them off to Scotland. Now, Tennessee Whiskey is a variant of American whiskey with its own distinctive character (and legal definition), that of "charcoal mellowing." Turns out sugar maple charcoal is the peculiar choice of this tipple. This "run" through the charcoal takes place after distillation, that is, the "white dog" (new spirit) is filtered before racking into barrels. I must admit that there are very few whiskeys (or whiskies) I find unpalatable, and Jack Daniels is one of them. Jack Daniels is the OTHER Tennessee Whiskey. It is NOT a bourbon, though far too many bartenders substitute it for bourbon and far too many drinkers and writers refer to it as bourbon. I find it too sweet and too perfumey. But JD is the 800-pound gorilla of the spirits world, and it crowds the shelf for poor George. But George is the real deal, folks. They are a small player (even though they are in Diageo's stable) but they deserve a spot on your shelf. We savored the "Barrel Select" yesterday on the deck at Fadeaway Bluff, magnificent Mt. Shasta looming to the east, casting a reflection on the waters of Lake Shastina. Dickel is made in Cascade Hollow, near Tullahoma, in Tennessee. Being in the shadow of the Cascades myself, knocking back some George D seemed the right thing to do. It is a smooth and richly sweet drink, with lots of vanilla and butterscotch notes, but not cloying or flowery. A man's drink! But ladies like it, too. (N.B. Dickel folks use the Scottish/Canadian spelling, "whisky" rather than the American/Irish preference, "whiskey.")

We survived the Ides of July, my friends, despite the forests burning all around us. M. Crap. will return before the Kalends.
a.d. XVII Kal. Aug.


Anonymous said...

So it comes down (pardon the direction) to 'Marcvs Crapvlarivs'....Methinks this smacks not only of the Latinate obsession of the author, but mayhap considerable indulgence in the miraculous George Dickel, prompting some slight pretentiousness in the nomenclature of initials interpretation/conceptualization. So to speak. (Either that, or could it be simply a sincere dedication to accuracy?)(hmmmm....) Entertainingly done, M.C. NOC

Anonymous said...

Addendum: So there's a single malt from the isle of Islay, Laphroaig, which I have never tasted. Have you -- and does it deserve the devotion I hear about (especially for the 30 yr old aged in sherry casks)? NOC

M.C. O'Connor said...

Laphroaig is a wonderful, intensely peaty malt. Phenolic, medicinal, like burnt rubber or old cigars! Great stuff. And this is the standard 10-year, although I have tasted the 15 and it is wonderful, too. The 30-year old is out of my reach. I understand the "quarter-casks" are the real deal, more wood per unit volume so a higher proportion of the 'maturation' flavors from the casks, be they the sherry/winey notes or the vanillins more associated with ex-bopurbon casks.