Michter’s 10 y.o. Rye Review (2020 Release)

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With strong ties to a distilling legacy spanning 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 facilities 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 Dan McKee, 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.

From the very first release of whiskey that followed the resurrection of the brand, Michter’s have proven that they are not just committed to the outstanding quality of their bourbon, but also to that of their rye whiskies. Although still hailing from sourced stocks, Michter’s have gained a strong reputation for their amazing rye whiskey releases, even holding back on the release of their 10 y.o. rye on years where the whiskey is not deemed to have reached its peak maturation and flavour, as opposed to the designated age statement on the bottle. The result has been consistent releases of beautifully-aged rye whiskies. These typically run much older than the 10 year age statement on the bottle and are what I have designated as my ‘desert island’ whiskey. Each release of this whiskey has had a state-of-the-art custom filtration protocol developed to maximise every aspect of flavour, texture, and overall drinking experience in a collaborative effort combining the expertise of Master Distiller Dan McKee, Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson, and their dedicated teams.

Today I’ll be taking a look at this very limited release of Michter’s 10 y.o. Kentucky straight rye which will be Michter’s only bottling of this whiskey in 2020 due to ongoing shortages of mature stock and sky-high global demand. Released on the 7th of July, Dan McKee and Andrea Wilson describe this year’s release as follows:

“I just love Kentucky style rye because it has not only great spice, but also the richness and the balance that comes from having a fair amount of corn and malted barley in the mashbill. And I think the 2020 release of our 10 Year Rye is an outstanding example of Kentucky style rye,” – Master Distiller Dan McKee.

“There is nothing quite like really good rye distillate that’s been aged with thoughtful care for over a decade in a barrel that was toasted and then charred and in a warehouse that has been heat cycled to produce a deep, rich flavor profile perfect for sipping,” – Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson.

Vital Stats:

Name:  Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Rye (Barrel #20E985)
Age: 10 years old (rumoured to be older than this statement)
Proof: 92.8 Proof ( 46.4% ABV)
Type: Straight rye whiskey
Mashbill: Exact mashbill is not disclosed, however, this is a Kentucky style rye so we can assume the percentage of rye is close to 51% with the remainder being corn and a touch of malted barley.
Producer: Michter’s Distillery, KY
Website:  https://michters.com/whiskey/10-year-kentucky-straight-rye/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with brown sugar, faint vanilla, and earthy rye spice jumping out of the glass alongside a hint of green apples dusted in cinnamon and stewed in caramel. A dark chocolate edge develops on the end of the nose where the influence from the barrels makes its presence known.

Palate: On the palate you’re greeted tart green apples stewed in thick brown sugar and dusted in earthy rye spice, with a notes of fresh strawberries adding a touch of fruity sweetness. As you continue to chew the rye spice becomes bolder, dryer, and hotter as it builds on the tongue alongside notes of dried green apples and dark chocolate oak.

Finish: The finish opens with a warming Kentucky hug that moves down the throat and leaves notes of tart green apples, rye grain, and baking spices tingling on the tongue. There’s no burn just warmth as the flavours are peeled back layer after layer and giving a very long finish.

Overall 

Well. Another year, another delicious release of 10 year rye!

Although this is a KY style rye with a generous helping of corn and malted barley in the mashbill, nobody sipping this is can argue that the rye has lost its edge as a result. In fact, this year’s release is packed full of the grassy, green-apple-heavy flavours I’d typically associate with a rye whiskey that has a much higher rye content. The rye spice is also more concentrated than what I’ve experienced in previous releases, making this drink hotter than the labelled 92.8 proof would have you believe, and also removing any doubt that KY-style rye means you’ve killed the spirit of the rye in pursuit of a bourbon-esque rye whiskey. Despite this, however, the whiskey remains well-balanced and robust between the influence from the rye and the supporting notes of brown sugar caramel and earthy baking spices without burning away your palate with aggressive spice and tannins. In typical Michter’s fashion there is enough rye-driven heat on the palate that your focus is kept but not so much that you can’t taste the subtle flavour nuances in this whiskey. This heat fades to a warming Kentucky hug once you swallow and doesn’t leave any residual fiery spice or burn in the throat. Compared to last year’s butterscotch heavy release this year has brought the focus back onto the main grain of this whiskey and has showcased its full vigour without sacrificing any of the delicious flavours I’ve come to expect from these releases.

Since officially taking on the role of Master Distiller in early May last year and crushing it with his first Michter’s 10 y.o. single barrel rye release, Dan McKee and the Michter’s team have clearly been working hard to outdo themselves with this release. The flavours are vibrant, robust, and very well balanced, building with each sip on the palate in layers of complexity.

Try or Buy?

The suggested retail price for this year’s bottling is again at the $160 mark, making this a whiskey I’d recommend you try before you buy!

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