With strong ties to a distilling legacy that spans over 250 years, the Michter’s Distillery in Louisville, KY, has been producing a comprehensive range of award-winning American whiskies since the brand was resurrected by Company President Joseph Magliocco in the 1990’s. Now distilling in their own facility since August of 2015, the Michter’s brand has seen a quick return to global recognition for the quality of both their own and their sourced whiskies under Master Distiller Pam Heilmann – the first woman to serve as a Master Distiller at a Kentucky Distiller’s Association distillery since prohibition, and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson – the first woman to ever serve as Chair of the Kentucky Distillers Association. The Michter’s core range of whiskies, which are bottled under their popular US☆1 line, consists of their small batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon, their single-barrel Kentucky Straight Rye, their small batch Unblended American Whiskey, their small batch Original Sour Mash American Whiskey, and several limited edition variations of these. Their age –stated whiskies, which are bottled under their 10 year old, 20 year old, and 25 year old labels consist of straight Kentucky bourbon and rye whiskey which come from sourced stocks and are released on a ‘when-ready’ basis to eager fans.
Since the resurrection of the Michter’s brand from abandonment, Company President Joseph Magliocco has put an equal emphasis on the importance of both rye whiskey and bourbon. When Magliocco and his mentor, industry veteran Dick Newman, were first sourcing stocks under phase 1 of rebuilding the brand, they not only sourced aged stocks of bourbon but also of rye whiskey from distilleries in Kentucky. This was at a time in the 90’s where the rye whiskey market was virtually non-existent. In spite of this1, Michter’s insisted that they wanted to produce both continuing forward. Thus, the first release under the re-established brand was their now-iconic Single-Barrel 10 year old bourbon and rye. With these mature whiskies Michter’s wanted to make the statement that were trying to make excellent whiskey that was both mature and flavourful.
These days Michter’s annual release of 10 year old single barrel Kentucky straight rye whiskey continues to be an extremely popular whiskey internationally with Michter’s having cemented their reputation for their great-tasting rye whiskies. Like all Michter’s rye whiskies this is a single barrel of Kentucky-style rye whiskey meaning that there is a higher percentage of corn in the recipe to give more sweetness and balance to the rye’s spice and earthyness. Although age stated as a 10 year old whiskey, the 2018 was confirmed to be a 13 year old product with the 10 year old age statement on the bottle serving as a minimum age statement rather than an exact statement of age.
Today I’ll be taking a look at the following bottle from the 2018 release of this whiskey.
This whiskey was recently launched in Ireland via the good folks at Intrepid Spirits who kindly provided me with a small review sample. Albeit appreciated this has had no effect on the following review. Please read my sample policy for more info.
Name: Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Rye (Barrel #18E570)
Age: 10 years old (minimum)
Proof: 92.8 proof (46.4% ABV)
Type: Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey
Mashbill: Undisclosed (At least 51% rye)
Producer: Michter’s Distillery, Louisville, KY (Sourced from undisclosed distillery)
Nose: The nose opens with deep, rich caramel, earthy rye, black pepper, a touch of toasted oak, plums, baking spices, faint citrus, and a dash of barrel smoke.
Palate: The palate is viscous and muted at first with syrupy brown sugar, before exploding with herbaceous rye, dark chocolate, mature toasted oak, slight barrel smoke, faint mint, and a touch of red fruit covered in powdered vanilla sugar.
Finish: The finish opens with brown sugar and minty rye before fading to a touch of bitter charred oak, red fruit, and tannins with an aftertaste of old toasted oak.
This is easy drinking, flavour heavy, and unmistakably a rye whiskey. My last bottle of this release was from when their Master Distiller Emeritus Willie Pratt was running the show in early 2016 and was packed full of ‘dusty’ butterscotch and beautiful old rye notes. This, the second release under new Master Distiller Pam Heilmann, hits many similar notes but with added vibrancy. The almost-butterscotch caramel is still there but the flavour from the rye is bigger, bolder, and grassier, the red fruit is lively and sweet, there’s a delicious hint of toasted minty oak that the 2016 didn’t have, and a subtle touch of smoke to even things out. This is as well-balanced and flavourful a rye whiskey as I’ve come to expect from Michter’s and being a Kentucky-style rye whiskey you can bet there’s a decent amount of corn in the mash-bill, adding those deep caramel notes yet without taking away from the final rye-driven flavour. For those that like their rye whiskies with more oomph this whiskey’s body and depth of flavour would have you fooled that it’s closer to the 100-110 proof range.
I’ve come to learn first-hand that when it comes to releases like this it really is a team effort and the team at Michter’s have outdone themselves again. I have long claimed the 2016 release to be one of my top 3 favourite rye whiskies of all time but this year’s release is making me doubt that. Another interesting fact is this year’s release was a 13 year old rye whiskey which once again demonstrates Michter’s ‘when it’s ready approach’ to bottling their whiskies as opposed to strictly abiding by the age statement on the bottle.
Try or Buy?
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes their rye whiskey with more maturity, less aggressive spice, and a deeper interplay between the subtle rye grain and barrel flavours. That being said, this is not a cheap bottle. In Ireland this whiskey is exclusively available from the L. Mulligan Whiskey Shop in Dublin. It retails for €195, thanks to the EU’s tariffs on US whiskey, so I can only recommend you try it first (if possible) because spending over €100 on something you’ve never tried can be a risky and expensive business. As for the price per bottle, if I had the money I’d buy a 3 bottle case it’s that good. In fact, after trying it I went out and picked up a bottle with no regrets.