Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye

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Class:  Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Reviewer:  Andrew Owen

Following my semi-disappointing experience with this year's limited edition Michter's Barrel Strength Rye Toasted Oak Finish, which everybody and their mother except for me (and my mother, who doesn't drink whiskey) seems to love, I started looking for an opportunity to try this standard version of the Michter's Barrel Strength Rye.  This is supposedly the exact same as the toasted barrel finish minus, well, the toasted barrel finish.  I thought the toasted barrel bottling had potential, but came away thinking that the toasted barrel finish may have done more harm than good (for my tastes, that is).  So here we are, thanks to my generous friend Igor who sent me a sample.  Lets see if keeping this away from the toasted barrels is the key to unlocking its potential!

Notes:

  • Distilled by an unknown producer, somewhere in Kentucky.
  • The mash bill is also unknown.
  • Bottled at barrel proof 56.8% ABV (113.6 proof).
  • From Batch 16D554 (whatever the hell that means).
  • No age statement.

Nose:  Bold barrage of baking spice – cinnamon and nutmeg, alongside heavy dark caramel/bruleed sugars. Rounded out by rich tobacco and a nice oak backdrop with just a hint of menthol. After a rest, a nice butter-toffee note develops.

Palate:  Moderate entry burn that fades quickly. Earthy tobacco, loads of sweet cherry (like maraschino), cinnamon, oak, and a late entry of sweet caramel on the tail end. Bold, balanced, and very tasty!

Finish:  Vanilla/buttercream frosting, toasted bread, woodspice. Extremely long finish with those sweet cherries lingering literally until I put something else in my mouth.

Water?  After tasting it undiluted, I added 1/4 tsp of distilled water to my remaining 1/2 oz of whiskey.  Water added a nice butter-toffee/treacle/honey note to the nose, and a honey and flan (the Mexican custard) element to the palate, although it did cut out alot of the fruit.  It did not change the finish.  Try it with and without water!

Score:  91/100

Buying Recommendation:  Buy it now!  Apart from the holy grail of rye whiskeys (aka Booker's Rye) this is easily the tastiest rye I've had.  Michter's, if you're reading this, please stop ruining this phenomenal whiskey with your toasted barrel finishes (I kid! Well, not really).  My general rule of thumb is that if a whiskey can break a 90 on my scoring chart AND comes in at under $100, then its earned a spot in my cabinet.  At $75 or so, I'll be on the lookout for this going forward, and you should be too.

The Rating Scale

At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:

1-49: Varying degrees of bad

55: Average

60-69: Better than average

70-79: solid/good

80-89: excellent

90+: truly exceptional

All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.

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Publisher

All Time Favorite Whisky: Balblair 1990 2nd Edition

Daily Drinkers: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Springbank 10 Year

A former craft beer enthusiast, Andrew fell in love with whiskey after tasting a pour of Laphroaig 10 year and being amazed that such a flavor could exist within a liquid. With a college background in biochemistry and a passion for history, Andrew quickly grew to love the science of whiskey making, the history of different distilleries, and the exploration of flavors within a dram. To Andrew, whiskey is more than just a drink; it is a fascinating mix of art and science – an intricate beauty to be pondered and appreciated. Besides this, Andrew has found that a nice bottle of whiskey has an amazing ability to bring people together and unite people from all different backgrounds together as friends.

While Andrew can be found drinking any style of whiskey from any region around the world, he has a particular affinity for spice-laden bourbons and coastal scotches. Besides drinking whiskey, Andrew also enjoys weight lifting, road biking, and cooking.

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