Michter’s 25 y.o. Bourbon 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. In recent years Michter’s have also released two innovative satellite brands – Shenk’s Homestead Sour Mash Whiskey, and Bomberger’s Declaration Kentucky Straight Bourbon – which honour the heritage of the Michter’s brand.

In this day and age, to even mention of the words ’25 year old bourbon’ is enough to cause many bourbon enthusiasts go weak in the knees – and with good reason! As bourbon returns to wild popularity, the days of bottles of 20+ year old bourbons gathering dust on shelves or selling for next to nothing are truly long gone. Instead, we’re left with long-winded descriptions of these now-mythical bottlings told through dewy-eyes and, if all your luck has come at once, a tiny 1/2 oz sample sent from a very good friend. Yes, there are still a very small number of producers who have stocks of ultra-aged bourbon but finding those with the quality you’d expect at that age is another matter entirely. Instead, many taste like producers have started scraping the bottom of the barrel literally, with the whiskey being bottled at low proof and tasting either over-oaked, underwhelming, or all the above.

In steps Michter’s, who, in my opinion, are the Masters of Quality when it comes to producing some of the best-tasting American whiskies. From end to end, I haven’t found a single other producer that has spent as much time, money, and effort to ensure their people, equipment, and quality of their whiskies are the best in the business. I was lucky to tour both their facilities in 2019 and came away with a very healthy appreciation for just how much effort goes into every single drop of the whiskey they bottle. Despite being on allocation globally, when I asked what happens to a barrel they’re not 100% happy with, the honest response was they sell it to the ethanol factory next door to be turned into industrial alcohol. No sending it down the river to a barrel broker for a few bucks, no bottling it regardless, and certainly no sneaking it into a blend. It’s destroyed and they keep looking until they find the whiskey they’re looking for whether the barrel is 4 years old or 25 years old.

So, when it was announced in October 2020 that Michter’s Master Distiller Dan McKee had approved the first release of their coveted 25 year old bourbon since 2017 the tsunami of excitement that followed was understandably colossal as fans scrabbled for information on the whiskey itself. What we learned was that the release consisted of some of Michter’s oldest and finest stocks of bourbon, was bottled at 116.2 proof, and limited to only 348 individual bottles globally. When describing the whiskey itself, Michter’s President, Master of Maturation, and Master Distiller were quoted in the press release as follows:

“The bourbon that has been selected for this release by Dan McKee and our Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson is truly extraordinary,” commented Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco.
“A hallmark of our older whiskeys is that they have beautifully complex character while not being overly oaked,” observed Wilson. 
As Master Distiller at Michter’s, McKee is the ultimate gatekeeper of the distillery’s releases. He commented, “When I tasted these particular 25 year barrels, I was thrilled about the quality.”

So what does one of the world’s oldest bourbons taste like? Let’s find out!

Vital Stats:

Name: Michter’s 25 year old Straight Kentucky Bourbon
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 116.2 Proof (58.1% ABV)
Type: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
Mashbill: Undisclosed (minimum 51% corn)
Producer: Michter’s Distillery LLC, KY
Website:  https://michters.com
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens complex with deep brown sugar, rich baking spices, dried cherries, and old minty oak. As you nose deeper the brown sugar moves into a thick butterscotch with additional red fruit, earthy pepper, and charred oak as well.

Palate: The palate opens viscous, with tart red and black fruit smothered in sweet thick brown sugar and shot through with minty old oak and peppery tannins. As the warmth of the tannins fades layers of flavours begin to peel back giving notes of dark chocolate, concentrated caramel, rich baking spices, and additional herbaceous charred oak notes.

Finish: The finish is long, opening with warm residual baking spices and red and black stone fruit driven by the ABV, before herbaceous old oak, cacao , and almost burnt caramel emerge and result in a deeply flavourful aftertaste of tannic spice, cacao, and herbaceous oak.

Overall 

Whiskey lovers, I am not joking when I tell you this whiskey is a masterpiece. It combines all the best elements of well-matured bourbon stocks and delivers them as a tempest of complexity and stunning flavours. Every drop is thick with concentrated layers of brown sugars, dark fruits, baking spices galore, mature oak, and that beautiful herbaceous mint that brings it all together perfectly. In the typical Michter’s fashion this bourbon is pungent with perfume-like flavours whilst the oak doesn’t overwhelm it in the slightest. Instead, despite 25 years of ageing in Kentucky and its high proof for its age, it falls neatly into the intricate balance struck between its sweet, spice-driven, and barrel-driven notes. It’s very rare that a whiskey leaves me stunned and short for words to describe the drinking experience, but this is definitely one. The best way I can describe it is a complete sensory experience that leaves you stunned and in awe of it.

This review took quite a while to write because drinking something this complex and deeply flavoured is as overwhelming as it is incredible. Every time I sipped some to further collect my thoughts on it I’d be left with a page of incoherent notes and musings resembling the spiritual experience of a bourbon fanatic envisioning their perfect bourbon. This really is mind-blowing and another testament to the quality of the stocks Michter’s have at their disposal as well as the incessant hard work by the Michter’s team which made this bourbon a reality.

Try or Buy?

This bourbon was released with an MSRP of $1,000, which is a fantastic price for a bourbon of this age and quality. The bad news, however, is that these typically go for anywhere between $1,000 and $15,000 so I’d highly recommend you try this before you buy. Personally, I’d consider maxing out my credit card if I could find one for anywhere between $1,000 and $5,500.

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Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

Like you, I’m a whiskey enthusiast. I don’t earn any money from distilleries, their parent companies, or their subsidiaries for my reviews. If you like what you’ve read, show your support and buy me a dram!

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Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

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