Bomberger’s Declaration Review (2021 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.

The second of two legacy brands inherited with the resurrection of the Michter’s brand, Bomberger’s Declaration is a limited release small batch Kentucky Straight bourbon. Released on an annual basis since 2015 it was created to commemorate Abraham Bomberger and his famous Bomberger’s Distillery, which later became the original Michter’s Distillery in Schaefferstown, PA. Originally Bomberger was a Pennsylvanian Dutchman who had ties to the Shenk Family and purchased the Shenk’s Distillery sometime in 1860. The Bomberger’s Distillery ran until Prohibition in 1919, after which it passed through many hands whilst producing some of the most legendary whiskies on the market.

As with the other legacy brand, Shenk’s Homestead, Bomberger’s Declaration gives Michter’s Master Distiller and their Master of Maturation the opportunity to innovate and craft truly unique whiskies that fall beyond Michter’s target flavour profile by using a variety of techniques such as special wood finishes, interesting mashbills, etc. For this year’s release Andrea Wilson and her dedicated team once again hand-picked casks of Kentucky Straight bourbon (conforming to Michter’s quality standards of aging in naturally seasoned and air-dried wood for over 3 years) and blended these with Kentucky Straight bourbon that had been aged for a period of time in Chinquapin Oak (Quercus Muehlenbergii) casks with a custom char to accentuate the rich flavours imparted by this species of oak. One really attractive aspect of this bourbon is that it is bottled at 108 proof which is deep in the barrel-proof zone for Michter’s. This means that if you couldn’t get your hands on their KY-only barrel proof bourbon release all those years ago you still get to try their bourbon at close to barrel proof.

Vital Stats:

Name: Bomberger’s Declaration (Batch#21E1372)
Age: NAS
Proof: 108 Proof (54% ABV)
Type: Kentucky straight bourbon
Mashbill: Not disclosed
Producer: Michter’s Distillery, KY
Glassware: Glencairn


Nose: The nose opens complex and rich with deep barrel spices, chocolate,
maple syrup bordering on butterscotch, barrel char, and aromatic sweet black
cherries with a dusting of pepper. As you nose deeper the barrel char notes
become a touch herbaceous and pick up a touch of roasted nuts as well as sweet
cinnamon to compliment the fruit notes.

Palate: The palate opens thick and sweet at first with black cherries and
red fruit stewed in dark brown sugar syrup and dusted with baking spices and cinnamon.
This is quickly followed by a wave of peppery rye and tannic oak spice which washes
across the palate, bringing toasted oak notes, more red and black fruit notes, herbaceous
charred oak notes, near burnt maple syrup, and dark chocolate before becoming
faintly bitter and almost sour.

Finish: The finish opens with toasted oak notes, toasted earthy nuts, peppery
baking spices, dark chocolate, roast coffee, and a mix of tart dark and red fruit,
fading into an aftertaste of dry warm spice, cinnamon, chocolate, faint
herbaceous oak notes, fruit, and a lasting KY hug.


This is honestly one of the best whiskies I’ve tasted this year, and I don’t say that lightly! In true Bomberger’s fashion, it has ample red and black fruit notes, rich maple syrup & brown sugar notes, baking spice notes-a plenty, and all put together with near-perfect balance and delivered at a fantastic proof. What truly sets this release apart from previous releases, however, is those stocks that were aged in chinquapin oak barrels charred to various custom levels. This takes that classic Chinquapin (Quercus muehlenbergii) oak profile but also adds additional char-driven notes of roast coffee, near-butterscotch caramel, dark herbaceous notes, and enough baking and oak spice heat to keep you warm long after you’ve finished your drink. For my first two tastes I was unaware of this addition, so imagine my surprise to find the classic Bomberger’s profile I was expecting expanded upon and rounded out with some serious barrel-driven complexity. Another very pleasant and curious surprise is the overall profile which is very reminiscent of ‘dusty’ bourbon. I’m not sure whether this is a by-product of using the custom charred chinquapin oak barrels or whether older stocks were used in the final blend but the level of oak maturity I get when I drink this is unignorable and not easily achieved through unconventional ageing techniques. Typically, if a barrel doesn’t meet Michter’s quality expectations it gets sent to the ethanol factory across the road. However, as the purpose of these Legacy brands is to explore and innovate outside of the traditional Michter’s profile, I’m left wondering if the idea to use custom-charred chinquapin oak barrels also presented an opportunity to give some older off-profile stock a second chance. Either way, this tastes like there are some seriously old stocks blended in and combined with everything else makes this a luscious flavour-bomb.

As this is the first time we’ve seen Michter’s use custom-charred chinquapin oak barrels I thought I’d compare this to the previous 2020 release to see which I prefer. I chose 2020 because it was the best release of Bomberger’s that I’ve tasted and figured if the 2021 release could outperform it, I would have no problem proclaiming it in my top 5 bourbons of the year. Unfortunately, and following multiple side-by-side tastings, I couldn’t walk away with a clear winner. Both are excellent in their own way and ultimately proved too unique for direct comparison and winner. Drinking them side by side I enjoyed both for different reasons and could see how some nights I’d be in the mood for the mature and fruit-forward 2020, whereas other nights I’m going to crave that spice and complexity that the 2021 delivers so well. The silver lining, however, is I can happily say that the 2021 release is not sub-par compared to what is easily the best Bomberger’s Declaration I have tasted to date.

As an annual vintaged release, Bomberger’s Declaration has become one of the few limited-edition whiskies that I will actively seek out and for the past 4 years, I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle. With this release, Michter’s have once again demonstrated that when it comes to secondary finishing they’re on top of the game and should not be underestimated. Already commanding serious respect and praise for their popular Toasted Barrel Finish expressions and having mastered the Chinquapin Oak finish with last year’s release, it was only a matter of time before their thirst for innovation drew them to throw their hats into the heavy char finished ring. In true Michter’s fashion, however, they’ve no doubt pored over every fine detail and used this knowledge to create a finished product that is a testament to their passion for balancing on-the-pulse innovation with producing the best quality whiskies.

Try or Buy?

This whiskey carries an MRSP of $100 this year which might be further evidence toward older stocks being used. Regardless, if you can get it for close to that price you have landed yourself a fantastic bargain in my opinion! This does, however, pass the $99 threshold for a recommendation to buy, but if what you’ve read had you thirsty for a bottle, take comfort that you are in for a treat this year and it’s worth every penny. Try it if you can, but take the chance if you seenit at a reasonable price!


Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

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