Michter’s 20 y.o.Bourbon 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. 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.

Michter’s are the Masters of Quality in my opinion. When it comes to producing some of the best-tasting ultra-aged American whiskies I haven’t found a single other producer that has poured as much time, passion, money, and effort into ensuring their people, processes, and quality of their whiskies are the best in the business. As such, when it was announced in October 2021 that Michter’s Master Distiller Dan McKee had approved the first release of their coveted 20-year-old bourbon since 2019 for November, the fan response was understandably tempestuous. What we knew was that this Kentucky bourbon would be released at 114.2 proof (standard for Michter’s 20y.o.), would come from a small batch of barrels similar to the previous 3 releases, and would be limited to just 582 bottles globally. To add to the excitement this release also sported updated packaging with a bespoke collector’s box complete with silver details information on the bourbon inside the bottle, and custom cut foam to protect the bottle whilst in the box.

When describing the whiskey itself, Michter’s President, Master of Maturation, and Master Distiller were quoted in the press release as follows:

“I really enjoy this release because the barrels that our Master Distiller Dan McKee and our Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson selected for it are so layered and rich,” – Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco.
“This whiskey really showcases how thoughtful care and attention throughout the aging life can lead to an absolutely beautiful expression. Sipping it mirrors the experience of savoring a fine, decadent dessert.” – Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson.
“We pay extra special attention to our barrels once they reach 15 years because we want the barrels we offer to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and oak-driven complexity,” – Master Distiller Dan McKee.

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.

Vital Stats:

Name: Michter’s 20 year old Straight Kentucky Bourbon (Batch No. L21I2610)
Age: 20 years old
Proof: 114.2 Proof (57.1% 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 and intense with sweet deep brown sugar notes bordering on molasses, rich baking spices, earthy dark chocolate, black cherries with a touch of dried red fruit, and old toasted charred oak. As you nose deeper the barrel-driven notes become more complex and apparent alongside additional thick brown sugar notes, dried red fruit, earthy pepper, and those warm floral toasted oak notes.

Palate: This floods the palate with and explosion of delicious and robust notes of red and dark fruit, thick dark brown sugar bordering on butterscotch, faintly bitter charred tannins, a touch of black pepper heat and old herbaceous oak. As you continue to roll it on your tongue the layers of flavours continue peeling back to reveal cacao-heavy dark chocolate, heavy barrel mint, rich earthy baking spices, and sweet toasted oak notes.

Finish: The finish is long, opening with warm residual baking spices, red and black stone fruit, and bitter charred oak, before sweet toasted oak, cacao,  and dark caramel notes emerge, resulting in a deeply flavourful aftertaste of tannic spice, cacao, caramel, and old herbaceous oak.

Overall 

Every time I sip on one of these 20+ y.o. releases from Michter’s I’m left speechless and wondering how they have manged to produce something this delicious. This release combines all the best elements of well-matured bourbon and delivers them as a kaleidoscope of stunning and complex flavours. Every drop is brimming with heady perfume-like notes of dark brown sugars, black and red fruits, earthy baking spices, mature charred oak, and beautifully herbaceous mint bringing it all together. The flavours are simultaneously thick and nuanced, whilst also leaving you with a warm aftertaste that feels like it could happily carry on forever. I don’t think it’s possible to tire of sipping on something this complex and layered and every drop seems ready to soak your palate without ever losing a hint of intensity. In the typical Michter’s fashion it also achieves all this without the mature oak notes overwhelming the delicate balance between flavours. Instead, herbaceous, mint-forward, and charred oak combines with the unmistakable floral and red fruit-heavy notes of toasted oak to subtly support the existing fruit, caramel, and baking spice notes.

When it comes to releases like this the only thing I can say is that the Michter’s team continue to surpass themselves. Under Dan McKee and Andrea Wilson the whiskey has never tasted better and the future for their ultra-aged releases has never looked brighter. I personally can’t wait to see what they have in store for fans in 2022!

Try or Buy?

This bourbon carries an MSRP of $1,000, which all things considered is a fantastic price for a bourbon of this age and quality. The bad news, however, is that these typically go for much higher than their MSRP so I’d highly recommend you try this before you buy.

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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!

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Me a Dram!
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