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 now Master Distiller Emeritus 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.
In my previous Michter’s Rye review I spoke about how since the resurrection of the Michter’s brand from abandonment, Company President Joseph Magliocco has put an equal emphasis on the importance of producing both rye whiskey and bourbon. From the start Michter’s insisted that they wanted to produce both moving forward, and their first release under the re-established brand was their now-iconic Single-Barrel 10 year old bourbon and rye.
As Michter’s continued working towards producing their whiskies in their own distillery, rye whiskey also formed part of the US☆1 core expressions with their single barrel straight rye whiskey. Through their unique production approach Michter’s sought to create a unique Kentucky-style rye whiskey that’s rich and sweet, with more flavour and less burn than what is available from other distilleries. It’s also worth noting that so far all five of Michter’s different rye whiskies have been single barrel straight rye offerings which further highlights their dedication to only releasing quality rye whiskey.
Today I’ll be taking a look at the 2019 release of their barrel proof US☆1 single barrel Kentucky rye that was released a few weeks ago. For many rye whiskey drinkers the previous release of this whiskey was regarded as one of the best barrel proof rye whiskies on the market for the price, beating out many of its age-stated and more expensive competitors in both blind tastings and in online whiskey polls.
Name: Michter’s US☆1 single barrel barrel proof Kentucky rye (Barrel #19C386)
Age: NAS (approx 6-7 y.o.)
Proof: 110 proof (55% 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 bold and complex with subtle red fruit stewed in muscavado brown sugar, white pepper rye, faint vanilla bean, earthy baking spices, toasted oak, barrel smoke, and a touch of pine.
Palate: The palate is thick and viscous. Initially you get red and black fruits dusted in powdered sugar before a wave of sweet and earthy rye spice washes over the palate and fades to baking spices, dried black cherries, cloves, toasted oak, dark chocolate, and barrel smoke.
Finish: The finish opens with a wave of spice followed by earthy warm baking spices, herbaceous rye, sweet red fruit, and an aftertaste of vegetal barrel char, toasted oak and grassy rye.
In the past Michter’s have released some great whiskies but I’m going to say that this is a strong contender for their best release yet (not counting their ultra-aged stuff of course). There’s something special about this whiskey that sets it apart from everything else they’ve released, even their other rye releases. It hits all those classic Michter’s rye notes of sweet red fruit, baking spices, grassy rye, and toasted oak but then takes them to another level with a host of complex supporting notes and barrel proof goodness that perfectly bridges the gap between their 10 year rye and standard rye release. On one side it doesn’t yet taste of an older more mature rye whiskey like the 10 year and on the other when compared to the standard US☆1 single barrel rye there’s a lot more drive and depth behind the flavours.
When Michter’s set out to create a rye whiskey that was full of flavour yet didn’t have any of the pitfalls usually found in many other barrel proof rye whiskeys, they hit the jackpot with this release. All throughout there’s rye spice without fire, flavour depth without over-oaking, and complexity without super-high proof. From the nose to the finish it’s just so complex, balanced, and delicious yet it also never overwhelms the palate with anything nasty or unpleasant. This is a really fun rye because it tastes like a dessert or something experimental but delicious that you might find in a confectioners or chocolate shop.
Considering the popularity of the previous release of barrel proof rye, and the toasted barrel finish barrel proof rye, it is pretty easy to assume that this will be an instant hit with rye whiskey lovers. For the price there are very few rye whiskeys that can compete at the same level of flavour or general availability. In summary, the Michter’s team have outdone themselves again with this release.
Try or Buy?
Whether you like low proof or barrel proof rye whiskey I would argue this competes at both levels so is definitely worth a buy. Of course if it hits your market at a $100+ level I’d highly recommend you try it first, but I stand firmly behind my recommendation to buy this if you see it. For Irish fans it’s worth noting that this will be the first easily available barrel proof rye whiskey to hit the market- so fill your boots!