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Posted 01/26/2023 in Tims Ford Lake Activities

George Dickel Distillery Tour

George Dickel Distillery Tour

George Dickel Distillery Tour

The George Dickel Distillery is located at Cascade Hollow in Tullahoma, TN which is the second Largest distillery in Tennessee.  The first largest is Jack Daniels Distillery which is on the other side of Tims Ford Lake in Lynchburg TN (just a short drive away). This is one of the many things to do in Tullahoma.

Driving to the George Dickel Distillery

A short drive through downtown Tullahoma led me to its outskirts just south of the picturesque Normandy Lake.  The two mile drive down Cascade Hollow Drive brings you to the Cascade Hollow where George Dickel Distillery is located.  Note its "Whisky" without the "e" is how the the special spirit is called by distillers in Canada, Scotland, and Japan.   American distilleries tend to use the "e" as in "Whiskey".  

Yes, it is snowing ...I did this interview in January at George Dickel Distillery  -- Tennessee is fortunate to have varied weather during the non-summer months.  Yesterday it was 60 degrees and stormy.  Today it is 30 degrees and snowing, thus the snowflakes in the photos!

Cascade Hollow Distillery -- George Dickel WhiskeyEntrance to Cascade Hollow -- George Dickel Distillery

I came to the entrance of an amazingly picturesque area in small valley, with a stream running through the center off to the side of the road in Tullahoma TN.

From there I entered the Cascade Hollow Country Store, the location where tours begin to view the George Dickel Distillery.

George DIckel Distillery

The tour began on the inside of the Cascade Hollow General Store -- this is the souvenir store for the George Dickel Distillery.  This is also where you can purchase a tour of the distillery as well as souvenirs and a bottle or two of from the George Dickel Distillery.

Inside of the cascade hollow distillery country storeInside of the Cascade Hollow Distillery general store

History of George Dickel Distillery

The tour guide brought us outside, and gave us the history of the George Dickel Distillery. It was interesting to hear how George immigrated from Germany in 1840 and eventually ended up in Nashville as a shoe cobbler who had a love of whiskey. He eventually built a liquor store and sold local and imported whiskeys.  

During a holiday trip to the south with his wife (they visited one of the unique "healing" mineral springs resorts in the Tims Ford Lake area at the time) George Dickel found the Cascade Hollow Distillery.  One thing led to another and George ended up buying the distillery with a business partner. 

George Dickel Distillery - c1889 articleGeorge Dickel Distillery - c1889 newspaper article

 Unfortunately George Dickel's life was short lived and he passed in 1894. Though his partner kept the idea alive.

Prior to 1900, liquor stores would often buy the whiskey by the barrel and those who were interested in purchasing Tennessee whiskey would bring their own containers.  Eventually, bottling began in ceramic jugs since glass bottles were still too expensive.

george dickel whiskey bottles c1900George Dickel Ceramic Whiskey Bottles c1900

The Tennessee Manufacturer's Act of 1910 prohibited the manufacture of whiskey in Tennessee resulting in all distilleries shutting down (an early form of Prohibition).  This was 10 years before Prohibition across the United States. 

The George Dickel Distillery was shut down at that point, and moved to Louisville Kentucky.  The Louisville’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery continued to make whiskey even during prohibition since they were one of the handful of distilleries allowed to make Whiskey for medical purposes (you needed a doctors prescription).  

George Dickel Whiskey PrescriptionWhiskey Prescription c1927 on the wall of the General Store

Prohibition finally ended in 1933 but Tennessee kept the State prohibition going until 1938.  In 1938, Tennessee allowed distilling operations to begin only in 3 counties:  Coffee County (where George Dickel Distillery is), Moore County (Jack Daniels), and Lincoln County.  

The George Dickel Distillery moved back to Cascade Hollow in 1958.  And the rest is history.

The Tour of the George Dickel Distillery

We walked over a small bridge over the spring fed stream that is used as the water for making the whiskey at the George Dickel Distillery.

George Dickel Distillery Spring Fed StreamGeorge Dickel Distillery Spring Fed Stream

The limestone spring water serves a valuable purpose by filtering the water and removing the iron as well as adding minerals to the water.

We walked into the George Dickel distilling building.

Entrance to the george dickel distillery distilling buildingEntrance to the Dickel distilling building

Notice the whiskey fungus on the outside of the building above the door.  This fungus is called baudoinia compniacensis which is often seen in the vicinity of distilleries, spirits maturation facilities, bonded warehouses, and bakeries. The fungus has a preference for airborne alcohol, earning it the nickname whiskey fungus.

Before entering we were introduced to the amazing sweet smell of corn outside the building. As we entered, it persisted.  I wish I could have bottled up that smell to take home!

George Dickel Distillery distilling vatsGeorge Dickel Distillery distilling vats

There were 9 two story fermenters. Each fermenter holds about 20 million gallons of liquid. Observing the fermenter in action, it was bubbling and swirling all due to the yeast action.  Also, it was noteworthy that it was very warm inside. They mentioned that the building was not heated and that the warmth inside the building was all due to the fermentation action.  

The friendly Tour Guide explained the manufacturing of the George Dickel Whiskey to us along with the continuing history of the Dickel whiskey.

Dickel Distillery tour guideGeorge Dickel Distillery tour guide

The tour guide brought us to the charcoal mellowing area.  This is unique amongst Tennessee Whiskey which uses the Lincoln County Process This process uses charcoal made from maple to filter the whiskey. George Dickel Whiskey makes the charcoal 3-4 times a year.

The George Dickel distillery aging process:  From here it goes into charred oak barrels for at least 6 years.  But often longer.  They keep their barrels in buildings that are only 1 story high to maintain the same quality throughout versus some distilleries store and age their barrels in multi-story buildings and must rotate their barrels.

We eventually made it back to the General Store for tasting a flight of different types of George Dickel Whiskey.

I was fortunate to be able to chat with Benjamin, a true expert about the George Dickel distillery and its whiskey.  As a side note, there's nothing better than having an employee who is amazingly personable, loves the product you sell, and knows everything about the product and business.  This was Benjamin.  

Benjamin continued to share with me the variations of different George Dickel Whiskies.   He would pour a bit, smell it and describe it just like a wine.  As he described it, you could see the taste "notes" if you call it that for whiskey.  

Most of the George Dickel Distillery whiskeys are named for the recipe number.  For example Dickel 8 or 12.  Though all Dickel whiskies are aged at minimum of 6 years.  The numbers do not have to do with
 the aged years.  They do have a small number of bottle types that do have the years aged on the bottle.

Benjamin dove into how much Nicole Austin, the relatively new general manager and distiller of George Dickel, has done for both innovation as well as taste quality of the brand.

Benjamin's favorites were two of the Dickel Bottled in Bond Whiskies - he was torn between the 2005 and 2008.  

What was my experience at the George Dickel Whiskey Distillery? 

It was outstanding and a great experience 
with a local Tennessee treasure.  

More Questions about George Dickel?  See our article George Dickel Questions Answered

Also check out things to do in the Tims Ford Lake area.

More George Dickel Distillery Photos

See all of the Cascade Hollow Distilling Co photos I took throughout this article.

Prohibition in the 1920's caused many distilleries to go dormant or go out of business.  Only a few survived including George Dickel.  During prohibition, the only way to legally get Whiskey was via a prescription.  This real prescription is on the wall of the General Store.

Whiskey prescriptionWhiskey Prescription during prohibition

The below photo is right after the first distillation.

Whiskey Distilling ProcessWhiskey Distilling Process

A zoomed in photo below shows the clear distillate coming out.

Here's a newspaper article note from the IRS, confirming the Cascade Distillery is a Sour Mash Distillery.

george dickel distillery -- newspaper articleGeorge Dickel Distillery  -- newspaper article c 1899

There is also the Jack Daniels Distillery and Nearest Green Distillery not too far away.  Also see the distillery tour article.

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