Dickel x Leopold Bros. Collaboration Blend Rye Whiskey (Three Chamber)

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Dickel x Leopold Bros. Collaboration Blend Rye Whiskey (Three Chamber)

If you’re a fan of rye whiskey, then perhaps you’re familiar with Dickel Rye. It’s affordable, ubiquitous and quite tasty, being the runner up in our blind tasting of cheap rye whiskeys. It’s also never been distilled by Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., where George Dickel whiskey products are made. Like so many other mainstream rye whiskeys, it’s a sourced brand that has always come from MGP of Indiana, the source of so many other sourced ryes in the vein of Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye and many more.

Now, though, Dickel is preparing to bring their own rye onto the scene, and they’re previewing it in a rather interesting and unusual way—via a collaboration whiskey. The recently released Dickel x Leopold Bros. Collaboration Blend is the first product to contain Dickel’s own rye, but it’s paired with an even more unique product in the form of craft distillery Leopold Bros. highly sought after Three Chamber Rye—a brand that commands a sky high $250 MSRP. So yeah, this is certainly an interesting tactic as far as introducing Dickel’s new rye distillate is concerned—you don’t exactly expect it to be paired with another rye that already has an ardent fanbase.

Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye is named for the truly unique still on which it’s made, a living replica of a style of still that no longer exists. Owner Todd Leopold himself re-engineered the three-chambered still from old manuscripts and plans, replicating a style of still that is neither a pot nor column still, upon which all other whiskey tends to be made. The three-chambered still, in comparison, is said to produce a “heavier” and more robust distillate, presumably with more congeners and volatile aromatic compounds, which is somewhere between the heavy distillate you’d get from a pot and lighter distillate you’d get from a column still. There’s very little to compare it to, given that nobody else is making whiskey on a still like this today. The rye off this still has been aged for 4 years.

Dickel’s contribution, meanwhile, has the same 95% rye, 5% malted barley mashbill as the classic MGP recipe, although it’s not clear when this portion was distilled, or how long it was aged. What we do know is that it’s bottled at 50% ABV (100 proof), with an MSRP of $110 that seems to primarily reflect the expensive nature of the Leopold Bros. contribution, given that George Dickel as a brand is generally known for high-value selections. So with that said, let’s get to tasting this.

On the nose, this rye displays a fairly complex array of notes that touch on rye bread crust, caraway, honey, florals and caramel, with fruit accents of apple and spice pear. Cinnamon stick meets cocoa powder and rye grass, for a profile that is pretty balanced between herbaceous, spicy and sweeter elements. Ethanol is quite restrained for the 100 proof.

On the palate, the rye grain is definitely prevalent, with a slightly grassy and herbaceous character that is complemented by florals, pepper and classic rye notes. There’s also some warmer and richer impressions of cocoa powder, toasted oak and honey on rye toast, which conveys a gentle sweetness that isn’t particularly long lasting. All in all, this is just a well-balanced rye in general, conveying somewhat familiar and not super bombastic flavors that are married well to the proof point, which is never obtrusive. I’m not sure how well this one would perform in a blind tasting against other super-premium ryes in its price point, which tend to be bolder and more aggressively flavorful, but it works well as a contemplative sipper all on its own. It would likely also function decently as a cocktail rye, though I wonder if some of its subtleties might be harder to pick up, even in a Manhattan. Perhaps that’s an experiment I’ll have to conduct for myself.

Distillery: George Dickel and Leopold Bros.
City: Tullahoma, TN and Denver, CO
Style: Rye whiskey
ABV: 50% (100 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $110 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.