Michter’s 10y.o. Single Barrel Rye (2021 Release) Review

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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 2021 due to ongoing shortages of mature stock and sky-high global demand. Released in July, Dan McKee and Andrea Wilson describe this year’s release as follows:

“This 10 Year Rye release is a multi-layered whiskey. It’s bold, rich, and complex with a beautiful mouth-feel.” – Master Distiller Dan McKee.

“We wish we had more 10 Year Rye whiskey to share with Michter’s fans. Unfortunately, we continue to struggle to meet demand on all of our whiskeys as these expressions require time and attention to detail to reach the peak quality level for which Michter’s is known. Despite the limited stocks, we believe Michter’s drinkers will be thrilled with the results of this year’s efforts.” – Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson.

Vital Stats:

Name:  Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Rye (Barrel #21G1987)
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 sweet and complex with marzipan, sweet dark fruits, caramels bordering on butterscotch, herbaceous rye, a touch of black pepper, baking spices and barrel notes like clove. A deeper nose brings out sweet black cherries, faint citrus peel, and more barrel driven spice, faint marshmallow, and faint toasted oak.

Palate: The palate opens sweet with macerated dark fruit dusted in powdered sugar before turning to sweet vanilla, a touch of caramel bordering on maple syrup becoming more of a fire-toasted marshmallow note, herbaceous mint, earthy rye, with baking spices to bring it back before a kick of black pepper spice kicks in and travels down the tongue. Once the spice fades it returns to a cola-esque herbaceous sweetness with brown sugar, citrus peel, more herbaceous mint, and a touch tannic charred oak which dries out the tongue a touch.

Finish: The finish opens with residual spice that clings to the sides of the tongue, this fades to mint notes, brown sugar, charred toasted oak and a warm KY hug with an aftertaste of mint and charred toasted oak. Toasted oak comes through to ad that sweet marshmallow note that is bolstered by the spice and tannic edge and fattened out by the mint.

Overall 

This whiskey is strikingly good and just another example of why Michter’s boast a proud reputation for releasing some of the best-tasting premium whiskies. From the nose to the finish, this is easy-sipping, flavour-heavy, and a true example of what can be achieved when you age a KY-style rye to its fullest possible potential. It’s complex beyond belief, it’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s herbaceous, and it’s packed full of baking spice notes that strike an almost perfect balance between the corn and rye grain notes, and the toast and charred barrel notes, whilst delivering that classic no burn rye heat that Michter’s are famous for. This whiskey’s body and depth of flavour also makes it drink closer to the 100 proof range, thus making it perfect for those that like their rye whiskies with more soul and complexity but less aggressive burn.

As a near-annual release of single barrel whiskey, Michter’s 10y.o. rye offers a stand-alone release of the cream of the crop rye barrels from Michter’s warehouses. To date I’ve had bottles from 2019, 2020, and now 2021 and have found each to be fantastic stand-alone whiskies, however, comparison across releases is always fun, especially as I’ve always found Michter’s ryes to hit their target profile with incredible accuracy. Therefore, I thought I’d put the 3 releases side by side to see which comes out as my favourite of the three. The outcome was as follows:

2021 Vs. 2020
Comparing ‘21 to ‘20 the first thing I notice is that ‘20 has a lot more butterscotch that’s offset by a dry rye spice and added chocolate notes from the barrel. The grain really jumps front and centre and there’s less fruit than ’21, which has more layers of complexity and flavours coming from the interplay of those herbaceous mint, deep brown sugar, and dark fruit sweetness.

2021 Vs. 2019
Now it’s time for the big leagues because 2019 does not mess around! The 2019 has more of an oak-forward profile with rye and milk chocolate spice coming through before a dark oak note brings it all together, adding an almost regal and mature balance to the overall profile. The 2021 is a livelier take on the same but with much more herbaceous mint and dark fruit notes.

And the winner is?
With 2019 and 2021 being similar in profile I thought it best to decide the winner by blind tasting. To do this I waited a day for my palate to reset and tried them blind. The results were that the 2019 still remained the better of the two with those delicious mature oak notes being the deciding factor. That being said the 2021 was a very close runner up with it’s delicious herbaceous profile adding an element of maturity also.

The quality of these releases are the result of the hard work, close collaboration, and attention to detail from the various parties involved. This year, the team at Michter’s have outdone themselves yet again and this whiskey is one of my favourite releases every year. Since Dan McKee has taken the reins as Master Distiller, the collaboration between his team, the tasting panel, and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson’s team have produced some of the best whiskies I’ve tasted to date – in fact, the 2019 release of Michter’s 10 y.o. Single Barrel rye remains the best tasting whiskey I own and I do not say that lightly! With this release bringing the standard back up to what we saw in 2019 needless to say I look forward to trying more of their releases in the future!

Try or Buy?

The suggested retail price for this year’s bottling has increased $10 to $170, making this a whiskey I’d recommend you try before you buy. Historically these higher prices have been reflective of older stocks being bottled under the 10 year label and with rumours placing this year’s stocks in the neighborhood of 14 years old you can see why it may have gone up.

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Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

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