Class: Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey finished in toasted oak barrels
Reviewers: Bobby Long, Andrew Owen
The Michter's (pronounced Mik-ters) brand is steeped in American whiskey history dating all the way back to the 1850's, when the Bomberger's distillery was producing Pennsylvania rye near Shaefferstown, PA. Bomberger's had a tumultuous journey through the 20th century, temporarily closing multiple times while simultaneously passing through the hands of several owners. Eventually renamed Michter's, the distillery closed for good in 1989, and the owners abandoned both the physical and intellectual right the the distillery and name.
In 1997, the savvy heads of Chatham Imports, a wine and spirits corporation that sells everything from wine to organic vodka, trademarked the Michter's brand for their own use and thus began Michter's whiskey as we know it in the 21st century. It must be noted objectively here that the modern day Michter's whiskey and distillery has nothing in common with the original Pennsylvania distillery or brand. Chatham merely saw a historical brand name floating around and in a very savvy move, captured it for their own purposes.
Until recently, the new Michter's brand did not have a distillery of its own, but operated as a non-distilling producer (NDP) out of Shively, Kentucky just south of Louisville. Michter's now has a fully operational state of the art distillery, where they are using a modernized and technological method for distilling and aging their own distillate, but it will be a few more years before these barrels ever see the market.
Onto the whiskey under review here, the first limited edition release of Michter's Toasted Barrel Rye, which was released in the Fall of 2017 for a MSRP of $75.
- Comprised of standard aged rye whiskey transferred to custom oak barrels that have been air-dried for 24 months and toasted, rather than charred.
- Bottled at barrel proof, 53.8% ABV (107.6 proof)
- No age statement.
- Distilled by an unknown Kentucky distiller
Nose: Rich butterscotch and caramel come right out with dark toasted oak, spice, brown sugar and molasses. The vanilla is prominent too and smells very similar to a cake or cookies being baked.
Palate: Thick, full and creamy. The dark spices dominate this dram with brown sugar, caramel and a good pepper rye bite. A black pepper-like taste pervades underneath with charred oak mixed in.
Finish: Rich gourmet butterscotch, toffee and vanilla blend together excellently with the spicy wood character of this drink. I think the toasted barrel aspect is most prevalent in the finish, which is also very long.
Buying Recommendation: Must Try. The butterscotch profile is excellent and not a flavor I get too often in whiskey. The spices are both strong and deep. I would describe this as a potpourri of spicy goodness and sweat cream.
I recommend you get a pour if you see it. At $75 MSRP the price is fair and if you see it on shelves I could make the argument for "buy it now”. I wouldn’t go over $100 on the bottle but if you can find it check it out and you won’t regret it.
*Here at WBSE, we sometimes drink the same whiskey (Surprise!) and we find that most often, two or three opinions are better than one (unless one of them is Greg's). We like to see how our own tasting notes compare with each other, and you will get multiple opinions on overall score! Everybody wins!*
Nose: Molasses, vanilla, nutmeg, and lavender form a full, well-rounded, and inviting aroma. Somewhat yeasty, like sourdough bread. After a rest, some woodsy and brown sugar notes develop. Overall quite appealing.
Palate: Thick with wood varnish upon entry before taking a turn to the dry side with lots of oak, burnt sugars, dry cinnamon, and cigar smoke. While the palate is enjoyable, it really becomes one-dimensionally dry, although thankfully not tannic.
Finish: Wood varnish, burnt toast, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Drying. Develops a touch of raisin as it lingers.
Buying Recommendation: Worth trying a pour. I like the idea behind this release, but the end results turns out a bit too dry and one-dimensional. The nose elevated this whiskey and created a great expectation, but the palate and finish were somewhat disappointing. I'm sure this flavor profile will be very appealing to some (like Bobby), but it's not for me. Don't get me wrong, despite its shortcomings, this is still a good whiskey worth trying.
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
60-69: Better than average
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.