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Jack Daniels vs. George Dickel

Many moons ago, we put these two Tennessee whiskeys side-by-side for a tasting. Which was best, the global goliath and cultural icon, or the less-well-known brand from Tullahoma?

To see, read the below classic review from the year 2001.


George Dickel No. 12 and Jack Daniels Old No. 7
by F. Sot Fitzgerald
The other night I was in a classy restaurant. Eyeballing their cocktail and liquor list, I laughed. “Look!” I said, leaning nearly into the lap of a woman I had just met, “They screwed up. They have Jack Daniels listed as a Bourbon.” She looked at me confused, and returned to her drink. I slinked back on to my stool and let her be.

Since I couldn’t tell her that all Bourbon is American whiskey but not all American whiskey is Bourbon, I’ll tell you. And if you know this already, well, then, skip ahead. Bourbon is a type of American whiskey. By law Bourbon must be made from 51% corn and it must be aged in new charred white oak barrels. Contrary to what some folks say, Bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky to be Bourbon (it’s not like Champagne, which must be made in Cham…you get the point).

Jack Daniels and George Dickel are Tennessee whiskies. What makes a whisk(e)y a Tennessee whisk(e)y is filtration, about which more is said below.

Jack Daniels Old No. 7 (86 proof) is made of corn, rye, barley malt and “iron-free” water.  It’s filtered (poured) through charcoal before going into barrel. It’s ridiculously popular but is a good whiskey.  It tastes of caramel, some vanilla on nose,  and charred wood close.

Very nice, but golly is it sweet! Still, it’s a good place to start if you are new to whiskey.  Just don’t stay there forever.  (Rating***1/2) Click here to purchase Jack Daniels Old No. 7

George Dickel No. 12, though less likely to appeal to whisky (note the “e”-less Scottish spelling of Whisky that Dickel uses) novices, is superior to Jack Daniels Old No. 7.  It’s distilled from corn, barley and rye, and as they note, it has “no preservatives, dyes, or strange  ingredients you can’t pronounce.”  It is double distilled then charcoal filtered through sugar maple before being “chill-mellowed” for 7-10 days.

What’s chill mellowing?  I’ll let the folks at Dickel speak for themselves:

“Somewhere along the way, George discovered that the batches of whisky he tasted during the winter months were noticeably smoother than the ones from warmer seasons. George learned that the chilled whisky became more viscous (thick), so it filtered more cleanly.  This produced an extraordinarily smooth-bodied whisky. He called the process chill-mellowing.”

Then it’s plopped into charred American white oak barrels and aged for no less than 8 years.

It’s just slightly darker than JD No. 7 and much more complex.  It has notes of honey, barrel, nuts, and a spearmint spiciness. (Rating****1/4) Click here to purchase George Dickel No. 12


43 thoughts on “Jack Daniels vs. George Dickel

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  2. Rodney Bjornstad says:

    Bought a bunch of whiskeys to allow for “cuttings”….have tried them all and I have to say that the George Dickel has proved to be the “sleeper” in the bunch. Absolutely the most interesting…..I always come back to Jack Daniels it seems…but this is one time I have to say that Mr. Daniels is taking a back seat.

  3. Dickle is aged better and is smother.Also the barrles are made of better wood.

    Its Dickle by a full lenght as they cross the finish line

  4. Jeff Debnam says:

    George Dickel is and has always been my favorite
    I’ve only seen one add for George Dickel No. 12 it was
    about 40 Years ago, a billboard on Sunset Blvd. in LA
    it got my attention for two reasons, being Cowboy myself
    it caught my eye, a Cowboy hat and all sitting in a rocking chair
    holding a glass and with a bottle of George Dickel No. 12, it didn’t
    say anything else it didn’t need to.

  5. alcoholreviews says:

    Dickey whisky is marvelous stuff. I also hear that Dickel makes the BARRELL brand of whiskeys, which are getting all sorts of great reviews.

  6. Devin Burke says:

    I’m a bourbon drinker and normally stick with beam double oak or the bonded and never heard of dickell until today. I decided to go for it and I’m glad I did. Although not a bourbon it’s one of my new favorites. Full of flavor and aroma. Hands down one of the best and I’ve only had a couple drinks of it. It’s not even in a league with Jack Daniels.. It blows it out of the water if so.. Just putting this out there.. If you haven’t tried it, you must give it a try.. New favorite dickell… And I haven’t even tried the 12 yet 😀

  7. George Dickle is my favorite whisky, but not the #12. I like the Black Label #8. I have maybe 15 different whiskeys at home, some quite expensive, but when I get off work and sit down and relax, it’s usually George Dickle #8 in my glass, sometimes with an ice cube, sometimes without, just depends on my mood.

    The #12 is smoother, but it lacks the character of the #8. In this case the less expensive is the better of the two.

  8. I’d like to try G.Dickle whisky….I used to be a Jack man years ago. My neighbor served me a inexpensive whiskey called R&R on occassion, it was smooth & it gave one a very pleasant feeling….I was surprised. He really liked it too–he drank a whole liter a day!

  9. Can’t say I agree with your clarification of bourbon vs whiskey. The makers of Dickle and Jack can market their whiskey anyway they want, I’ll give them that. But the fact that their Whiskeys are made here in the USA, made from grain mixture that is 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers and distilled to no more than 160 proof, etc…

    So, they’ve made a bourbon. There is nothing that says that, like in the case of Jack, that charcoal filtering before putting it in barrels disqualifies it from the classification of a bourbon.

    So, not all bourbons are Tennessee whiskey, but these two Tennessee Whiskeys are bourbon.

  10. Did the tour at Jack back in the mid 90s with a buddy. We stopped in Tullahoma at George’s on the way & they offered to take us on the tour but we didn’t want to impose since we were the only ones there. We were as thirsty as hell & the only thing I wanted was water. The water from George’s spring was the best water I have ever tasted.

    The tour at Jack’s was huge & well worth the slick presentation. In a pinch Gentleman Jack is almost as good but still not as good as #12.

    Suffice to say it was an incredible 10 day trip, starting off at Stevie Rays bar in Louisville (1 small batch bourbon, 1 scotch & 1 beer) (x4) & ending at the Bud brewery.
    Couldn’t wait to get back to Canada to recover;)

  11. Zsa-Zsa O'Neal says:

    Was a jack girl since my late teens (looong before 21 was the drinking age in Louisiana) . took the Dickel tour this past year and fell in love with their barrel select ….true sipping whisky .beats jack hands down on any day

  12. When Jack Daniels started watering down their whiskey is when I started buying George Dickel, The old Jack was some pretty good stuff, but not so much with their watered down version. (The Proof is in the pudding sort of speak. 80 vs 90) To me George’s #12 is better by far and hasn’t altered the original recipe like Jack’s #7 has done. If your ever in the area stop by and do their tours. I’ve done both and can say it was a pleasure both times.

  13. Haven’t tasted the Dickel yet, but am definitely switching due to the fact Jack Daniels continues to sponsor the barbaric Iditarod races.

  14. John Delaney says:

    I live 4 miles from the Dickel plant in Tullahoma and 12 miles from Lynchburg, and Dickel is my favorite. Nothing can compare with the 12 year at any price.

  15. Dwight Tanner says:

    If one closely reviews the Whiskey Advocate Reviews it appears that George Dickel Superior No. 12 was reviewed at an 89 in 2006 and George Dickel morphed into George Dickel No. 12 and was reviewed at 83 in 2012. Both were reviewed by the same person, but a lot of whiskey had flowed under his bridge in 6 years, so I suspect he wouldn’t remember much. So like JD before it, GD lowered their standards a little. JD with proof, GD with less age. I actually like both, a lot. They are not overly complex, but a generous pour of either over a few ice cubes is a very pleasurable way to end a day.

  16. I went with the love of my life, Kim, to Tennessee. We both went on the Dickel and Daniel’s tour; we enjoyed both very much. I must admit, without hesitation, we both enjoyed the Dickel distillery the most.

  17. I tried Dickel out of curiosity, I love Jack and the sour mash taste. But I no longer drink Jack unless I’m at a tavern that doesn’t have Dickel on hand. Which is quite often unfortunately. But at home, I can always enjoy a great whisky > notice no e lol. Me and Jack have had some good times together, and now I’m sure me and George will! Great stuff!

  18. alcoholreviews says:

    Excellent. Yes, it is small and feels very modest. Going to the Jack Daniels distillery, on the other hand, is an almost theme park type experience.

  19. I never had G Dickel and have been drinking Jack for a LONG time. Visiting Nashville in 4 month and was looking for a place to visit and you may have swayed me to GD and Not JD. I was just hoping that there is a tour from Nashville so I can just relax. Any ideas on the tour?

  20. Jeff is 100% correct. GD and JD are both bourbons. The Tennessee Whiskey or Whisky is pure marketing. Heaven Hill bourbon filters through charcoal too.

  21. OMG! I have been a dedicated Jack Daniels man for years (I’m 74) & was so happy with ole # 7 that I really didn’t bother trying many others. Yes, I’ve tasted better whiskey than Jack, but not in its price range. Then by accident I tasted Dickels for the first time a few months ago. Well Friend – it’s damn unsettling when everything you’ve known to be “whiskey gospel ” turns out to be wrong. I still drink Jack occasionally – but only when I’m “whisky slumming “.

  22. george middleton says:

    Read the reviews so got a bottle of dickel 12 sorry to say but it sucks I drink a lot of different stuff but this is one of the worst I ever had sorry don’t drink that much jack either but old number 7 way better

  23. george middleton says:

    I wrote a negative comment about this bad bottle of shit never seen it on here what are they paying u to promote this stuff what a crock of shit I bought this shit because of your review never be on this site again if you were honest you would put both good and bad

  24. I kinda agree with others here, the whole Tennessee whiskey v. Bourbon thing is a joke. Brown Foreman somehow managed to convince people that not being made in KY makes it “better”. A bourbon by any other name… is still bourbon. Much like their Early Times brand is an “American Whiskey”… no, it’s just cheap bourbon that reuses the barrels to save production costs.

    In my experience, the Dickel 12 profile is a little harder to appreciate, but those who do like it tend to LOVE it.

    Now me? I’d honestly take a Heaven Hill bonded whiskey over either. But it’s all personal preference. In a pinch any of the above will do.

  25. Oh and just to add… the Dickel Rye is pretty good… but their marketing verges on outright fraud. Selling your old timey handcrafted Cascade Hollow hulabaloo while shipping it in by the tanker truck from the old Segrams distillery in Indiana is just… slimey. All the distilleries put largely fictitious stories on the label… but cmon.

  26. Don’t think it’s fair to compare GD 12 with JD 7. Should be comparing GD 8 with JD 7 – they are more on par with one another. And by the way, just bought some GD 8 today. Not bad, (and as I just mentioned) pretty comparable to JD 7 – yet at a cheaper price point.

  27. alcoholreviews says:

    When this review was written, JD 7 was selling at the same price as GD 12. So, that was the basis for comparison. Huh, and it seems these days they still are the same price. So, yep, for my money I’ll pick the Dickel.

  28. CA girl here. Visited Tullahoma, at Christmas, to see family, toured both GD and JD distilleries. I like the comment about JD being akin to a theme park. It is. Loved both tours. George was our favorite though. Love, love, love the GD Barrel Select. Hard to get it outside of TN though. Imagine my surprise and gratitude when our local, independent grocer was able to get it for us! GD making all kinda waves in CA now! Hands down the best whisky for this girl. Love this site too! Check out the new Nearest Distillery in Shelbyville, as well.

  29. I haven’t bought Jack Daniel’s since the late ’90s. It was once a good dram but even by then they had cheapened it up and it was rough enough to remind me unpleasantly of JBW and other bottom-shelf products. Dickel #12 on the other hand has always been an honest pour and it remains one of my favorites. I will take it hands down over Old #7 any day of the week.

  30. Jack Daniels qualifies as a bourbon by any measure and it can be sold as a bourbon. It is a bourbon that then undergoes a further process, so it is both a bourbon and a Tennesee whiskey.

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