Allisa Henley, Distiller at GEORGE DICKEL™, give us her take on the American Whisky industry and what she thinks makes a bartender tick…
With its distinctive flavour and authentic American heritage, Tennessee Whisky is enjoying growing popularity.
GEORGE DICKEL is a stand-out brand (and not just because they spell it ‘Whisky’ without the e) and one that’s become increasingly more and more popular with bartenders as a base for their award-winning cocktails.
Thanks to Allisa Henley, Distiller at George Dickel, we’ve been given a unique glimpse into what makes the brand special.
Here’s what she has to say about – you’ve guessed it – her favourite Whisky.
What makes Tennessee Whisky different from other Whisky or Bourbons?
To be classified as a Tennessee Whisky your Whisky must meet all the requirements of a Bourbon with one additional step – it must be filtered through sugar maple charcoal. George Dickel is unique in this process because we chill our Whisky, to exactly 40 degrees, before it filters through the charcoal. Chilling the liquid changes the viscosity which impacts the filtering process. The result is a smoother finish on the Whisky and a more fulfilling taste.
Our unique chilled charcoal mellowing process is inspired by George Dickel himself. He was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1844 where he founded his retail business and began selling liquor in 1861. He felt the Whisky he made in the winter tasted smoother than the Whisky he made in the summer, so we carry on his tradition today by being the only Tennessee Whisky to chill filter this way.
What makes Tennessee Whisky the best?
Well as a Tennessean, the easy answer is because it’s from Tennessee of course!
But, I really do appreciate all types of Whisky from around the world and tasting through them to figure out which one you like best is half the fun.
We believe George Dickel brings something unique to the world of Whisky because we make all of our Cascade Hollow variants by hand and show a lot of personal attention to every single barrel.
Our pure Cascade Spring water, unique chilled charcoal mellowing process and single story warehouses are just a few things that gives Dickel its superior quality.
How important are bartenders to brands such as George Dickel? How do you inspire them to serve and recommend it to guests?
Bartenders are incredibly important because they’re on the front line every day - meeting the customers and hearing about each of their personal experiences.
Luckily, we’re fortunate that we’ve enjoyed fantastic support from the bartending community – particularly with George Dickel Rye. They tell us it makes a great base for a number of classic cocktails like ‘The Manhattan’ and ‘Old Fashioned’.
We believe bartenders love recommending it because our story of hands-on craftsmanship resonates so well with today’s consumers who care deeply about how the spirits we are producing are made.
The Whisky Cocktail
I love creating Whisky based cocktails – can you recommend a favourite cocktail recipe?
For me nothing beats Dickel No.12 on the rocks.However, I do enjoy a nice Whisky sour with ‘Dickel No. 12’ or a ‘Manhattan with Dickel Rye’.I also have a favourite of Dickel No.12 with lemon juice, maple syrup and orange bitters.
What trends can you see emerging for American Whisky?
The last few years have been exciting ones for the entire category as we’ve seen tremendous growth among established Whisky drinkers and new folks to the category.
From a cultural standpoint, there are a lot of drivers – from the popularity of TV shows popularising Whisky to the incredible “Women in Whisky” surge that’s seen a 7% increase in female Whisky drinkers over the last two years. This is something that’s of real interest to the bartending community. This shift in trends means they can make cocktails that appeal to women; with our Tennessee Whisky as a base. After all why wouldn’t they want to add a little sparkle to their menus.
But holistically, I think the most important factor has been the preference our culture has shown for supporting products like George Dickel made with the best ingredients and expertise possible.
What is your favourite bar and why?
Honestly, I’m not too picky… as long as George Dickel is on the menu then I am a happy woman!
I’ve visited many amazing bars across the world and met some fantastic bartenders. They constantly amaze me by coming up with new and innovative cocktails for me to try.
So, if you bartenders keep making those fabulous cocktails and I’ll keep making the fabulous Whisky.We make a great team!
Allisa is based at the George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma where she works daily creating and perfecting their smooth Tennessee Whisky. To find out more about George Dickel visit: www.georgedickel.com
(*One standard drink contains 8 grams of alcohol)
The GEORGE DICKEL word and associated logos are trade marks (C) Diageo 2015.