Lots of people contacted me about the last Whiskey write-up. No mystery there. We’re in the fat middle of a pandemic, people are stuck at home, bored to the tits, and drinking more, while doing all manner of weird shit to stave off Cabin Fever. (The syndrome, not the beer)
The last three were some GREAT values in budget Ryes. These are American Whiskies that you MAY find a cut or two more appealing. Maybe. At very least, the QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) is through the flippin’ roof…which is what you need to at least create the illusion that self-quarantine is not the vast suckhole you think it is.
I’ve embedded a video from YouTube for this last one and I beseech you to watch the thing. Listen to these two yaho…I mean, Southern gentlemen heaping accolades upon this whiskey, concealed in a paper bag, and then watch them take it out and almost collapse in shock…YOU can buy this same stuff, right now, today, and still have $$$ left over to buy your Grandma that assault rifle she has her eye on.
Paddleford Creek Bourbon is one of those non-Kentucky Bourbons whose provenance makes ya say, “Hmmmm…” and maybe not in a good way. It’s made by the Phillips Distilling Company, which is owned by Custom Distilled Products, which is owned by US Distilled Spirits, which…which starts to sound like one of those begat chains in the Bible and is probably deliberately impenetrable. MOST LIKELY – and I have NO proof of this at all – Paddledford is a brand that came about as an afterthought: company has excess barrels of white whiskey that didn’t go into a premium brand (or brands) and they decided to blend it all up and make a few $$$.
I have absolutely ZERO problem with this. The Pour Fool is based on ONE criterium: What’s In The Bottle…can, test tube, whatev. And what’s in the happy little bottles of Paddleford Creek is pretty damned good. Wine Enthusiast gave it 90 points…Tastings.com gave it 88…Even reviewers who were suspicious of how and where and why it was made generally had nice things to say about it. There was lotsa online discussion about the label’s claim as a “Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey”, disputing the whole and the parts of that moniker. But at the end of the snark, about 90% of ’em said they liked it and planned to drink it again. I do, too. What’s In the Bottle is aromas and flavors of hot buttered corn, wildflower honey, red rice, anise, lemon zest, gooseberries, and a nice, if subdued, oaky vanilla. It’s strikingly smooth and as a mixer, so the cocktail weenies tell me, it’s damned near perfect, adding its considerable attributes to your weird-ass concoctions without taking over the finished…stuff. As with everything in this house, it MAYBE gets added to ginger beer, as my wife likes, or just in a glass with ONE ice cube, mostly for water effect. And, for that, there are very few better ways to use your booze bucks than this stupidly inexpensive (some jaundiced sorts might even say “cheap”) straight American Whiskey. Gonna run ya between $18 and $24. Worth every penny.
Hey, ya like that country-ish band, Florida/Georgia Line? I do…kinda, without thinking they have all that much to do with country music. Country-rock, maybe. And they’re kinda, uh, good at that.
Happens they are also kinda adept at finding a nice bottle of hooch and lending their considerable audience heft to its promotion. And what they came up with is Old Camp American Whiskey. As is the case with a lot of custom or privately branded stuff like Old Camp, there is not a lot of information forthcoming about who made it. And, honestly, I’m sorta, uh, undermotivated to dig for it. Here’s the basic stuff…
As country and/or country rock fans are not, generally speaking, Whiskey Snobs, it is actually the Old Camp Peach Whiskey that sells tons and drives the brand. That, of course, was made with an eye toward that massive legion of music fans who equate “peach” with “down home” and “Mama’s peach pies” and, coupled with “whiskey” = “most direct path to shit-faced“, and all that American Values business.
Matters not at all to the straight American version, which is maybe the best mouthful of young American-style Whiskey I have ever added to my piehole. It’s 70 Proof, which works out to about 35% ABV, which is mild enough to mix nicely with your Mountain Dew or Coke or Red Bull or, seriously, any other conventional mixers like ginger beer – even ginger ale! – or as the base spirit in a lower octane cocktail. It sports a surprisingly sophisticated and nicely balanced range of flavors, with caramel, woodsmoke, mixed citrus, buckwheat honey, and a few nice grace notes like cinnamon and hay.
When I first saw it, it was on the shelf at my local corporate booze-mongers at $14.99 a bottle. As I am not stupid, I bought several, after determining that I liked it and my wifey could mix it to her satisfaction. To be honest, here, I have spent roughly 65X more time drinking this stuff than I have listening to Florida/Georgia Line. That’s not intentional. I’m just smack in the middle of one of my annual Jazz fetishes and not listening to ANY country music. I ADORE country music and will get back to these guys in a few months but, for right this minute, I’m quite happy to have my Steve/FGL interface consist of Old Camp. This is a FINE value, even at its usual $19.99 per and I suspect, if you try it, you may just find a place in your liquor cabinet for it, too.
If I told you that, IMO, George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey is maybe the greatest bargain EVER, in the history of American distilling, would your response be…
b. You’re full of crap
c. No fuggen way.
d. No, seriously, what are you smoking?
…or all of the above? I know, I know: you’ve been seeing George Dickel on store shelves your whole adult life. It’s a brand you associate with your Grandpa or old guys sittin’ on front porches, all over the South. You thought it would be just another Whiskey, so ya skipped it to buy a bottle of a Japanese artisan rice Whiskey for four times the money.
You CANNOT judge a book by…yadda,yadda,yadda.
To give away the big video surprise just a bit, these two guys tasting it blind are frankly scrambling for more superlatives to pile upon it and then visibly stunned when they see the label. And “stunned” is not hyperbole.
George Dickel 12 is a stunning bottle of Whiskey. STUNNING. The flavors in this bottle almost beggar description. Pick any descriptor you read in your reading about Kentucky or Tennessee Whiskeys and you’ll find it in this bottle. BIG, fat, sassy notes of caramel, whole-grain toast, malt syrup, florals, citrus, graham crackers, roasted nuts, treacle, oaky vanilla, wood shavings, pencil lead, leather, mild coffee…well, that’s as far as I usually get because I tell that part of my brain to knock it off, so I can just enjoy the Whiskey.
Go below this and either watch the whole thing – these two obviously taste a LOT of Bourbon and THINK about it, so they’re very astute – or just move the little button along to 12:28 and watch these guys start guessing what the retail price of 12 is or should be. And keep watching when they do the unveiling. Ill catch ya after…
Sweet Leapin’ Jaysus…Yep, that was my reaction, too. I did a post on this, first, in 2010, in the old Seattle P-I version of this website. In it, I said this and I have no reason to change a word. NOTE: The Webb and Lund mentioned were/are Gerry Webb, creative director for Dickel’s owners, Diageo, and Bill Lunn, master distiller at Dickel…
“…The first impression is smoothness. BIG caramel, subtle coconut, toffee, a sublime nuttiness, a dash of spice, fruit intimations galore, and a lovely, restrained smokiness give this a seamless, contemplative character that probably doesn’t register that well with youngsters who are just drinking whiskey to pah-tay, but for knowledgeable, unstuffy whiskey lovers, this stuff is a revelation; tangible proof that fat, comfortable flavor doesn’t have to come with a car-payment sized price tag. And yes, it IS a bit sweet. Bourbon, Tennessee, American whiskey in general – all slightly sweet and, indeed, that’s one of its hallmarks and virtues. Without that sweetness, American whiskey would be Rough Going. The sweetness helps tame the wild alcohol levels a bit and civilizes The Burn, without which whiskey would be stale cola. We want The Burn but we don’t want to feel like we’re sucking on a propane torch. And Webb and Lunn manage the balance of this stuff perfectly.”
That’s it. If you need any more convincing, find any fan of value spirits who’s ever tasted it and ask. But bring your lunch bucket. They’re gonna talk for a while.