Classification: Blend of Straight Ryes
Company: George A. Dickel & Co. and Leopold Bros.
Distillery: Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. and Leopold Bros.
Release Date: December 2021
Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of George Dickel and Leopold Bros. Rye (Dickel Mashbill: Undisclosed; Leopold Mashbill: 80% Abruzzi Rye, 20% Leopold Floor Malt)
Color: Golden Straw
MSRP: $103 (2022)
Todd Leopold, the master distiller of Leopold Bros. had an idea for a new rye product that required column distilled rye. He called George Dickel’s master distiller Nicole Austin to see if she knew where he could get his hands on some, and it just so happens they were quietly developing one. The collaboration between the two companies was born. According to Austin on George Dickel’s website, “The thing that makes this collaboration special is there is a reason and a context for it to exist that goes way beyond our friendship. There is a historical context for this whiskey. It’s really a resurrection of a lost style. Collaborations in spirits are quite rare, particularly in the whiskey space.” The label states that this is the “Inaugural Release” signaling additional releases are possible.
A creamy malt scent with a herbal underpinning is soft and welcoming. Leaning more sweet thanks to additional scents of vanilla and cinnamon roll frosting, it’s also not without moments of pungent spice and cinnamon bark. A touch of raw cedar against an infusion of additional baking spice, creates an aroma that is quite inviting. Yet, it’s the aroma’s herbal aspect that’s weaved throughout that provides the whiskey’s nose with ample depth and flair.
Creamy malt returns, but in a tangible sense. Buttery and even oily at times, the palate is also somehow light and feathery. It accomplishes this by being delicate, offering notes of sweet cream, buttercream, and caramel apple gracefully. With the return of herbal notes in the form of sage and green tea, the sip manages to continually surprise you when you least expect it. Tasting lower than its proof allows the rye to be quite approachable.
A beautiful crescendo of heat filled with rye spice and cinnamon drives this whiskey home. The sudden pop of oak, chai tea, nutmeg, butter, and baked apples proves to be a satisfying combination. A twinge of herbal notes continues into the aftertaste, and acts as more of a reminder of what has come before than an active component of the finish. A well done ending to the sip allowing it to close out on an excellent note.
Leopold Bros. made a splash in 2021 with the release of their Three Chamber Rye. Born by re-engineering a three chamber still from old manuscripts and growing their own Abruzzi rye used for the whiskey, Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye pushed the boundaries of what a rye is expected to taste like.
George Dickel, on the other hand, has traditionally sourced their rye from MGP and added their own fingerprint by filtering it through charcoal made of sugar maple wood and aging it in their Tennessee rickhouses. While their rye has gotten the job done for them, rarely does it receive much attention from rye lovers. But that is likely about to change. Dickel’s master distiller Nicole Austin has spearheaded a radical change of course regarding the company’s rye product. Now produced in-house, Dickel is unveiling their new Column Still Rye in this collaboration.
The blending of Leopold’s Three Chamber Rye and Dickel’s Column Still Rye is an ingenious one as the whiskeys are so agreeable with each other. Three Chamber Rye on its own can be polarizing for some as it pushes rye in a completely new (and herbal-focused) direction. Dickel’s Column Still Rye appears to pull it back some, rounding it out in places, and combining to form an electrifying finish. With branded collaboration such a rare occurrence in whiskey, it’s impressive how right the results ended up being here. There is just so little in the American rye whiskey market that comes close to tasting like this.
With the $100 pricepoint becoming the de facto price for many special releases, George Dickel x Leopold Bros. certainly falls right in line with that. What elevates it, adding value, are the parties involved and what they bring to the table. With Leopold Bros. Three Chamber release fetching $200, it certainly appears that Todd Leopold was willing to reduce his standard cut in order for this product to come to fruition. On the Dickel side, having this be the first place they unleash the company’s newly minted rye adds excitement, curiosity, and validity to it. Even then, when you add in how this whiskey pushes the boundaries of what a rye is expected to taste like, this might be one of the better value-packed and justified special releases in recent memory.
An unlikely collaboration that resulted in an equally unexpected tasting rye whiskey, George Dickel x Leopold Bros. Collaboration Blend Rye pushes rye into new and incredibly exciting new directions.
You got to give it to Todd Leopold for having the forethought and guts to approach a behemoth like George Dickel and attempt a collaboration when it's largely an unheard of practice in American whiskey. On the same note, props to George Dickel and Nicole Austin for going along with it and working together to produce an extraordinary unique tasting rye. It’s the synergy the two base products share - not only in taste but also in conviction - that makes this work on all fronts. George Dickel x Leopold Bros. Collaboration Blend Rye is a forward thinking endeavor that allowed two companies to come together and produce a new, and at times exotic tasting rye, that will most likely buck expectations in more ways than one.