Michter’s 10-year Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

Opened: November 8, 2011
46.4% Alc/Vol (92.8 proof)
Price: $62.99
Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey – 10 years old
Tasting Date: December 15, 2011

Color in glencairn glass: light orangish brown, orange rust.

Nose: Light berry fruit notes, heavy nougat, tarry barrel char, vague minty bubble gum.

Taste: Red fruit on the periphery, herbal tar in the middle. Light bubble gum notes quickly evaporate, bitter oak persists on a mossy finish. Heat bubbles up from some heavy, medicinal goo. The flavors are directed towards a deadened mid-palate finish. A sense of charred and burnt barrel generally weighs upon this whiskey. Mostly bitter, gummy wormwood aftertaste.

This whiskey feigns an easy-drinking quality on the entry. The palate show glimpses of red fruit, herbal bubble gum and minty wormwood, but soon comes to a point where it dies, leaving behind a little heat followed by a burnt aftertaste.

Value: $45/$63

I have to wonder how much of the bubble gum effect here stems from my only recent pinpointing of its glory in the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (VWFRR), and honestly, I have enjoyed this whiskey more since picking out those Van Winkle flavors. It’s heavier and less spicy, but I am finding some similarities; I half-expected to: I have run into rumors regarding a relationship between this label and the VWFRR. Michter’s was a distillery in Pennsylvania that began commercial production in the 19th century, paused during prohibition, and resumed after repeal, making whiskey until it closed in 1988. This whiskey has nothing to do with that other than the name, font and marketing references it uses (and ownership of the right to do so, of course).

This whiskey with a Pennsylvania name was made at an undisclosed location in Kentucky. (I assume it’s not referred to as Kentucky Straight Rye because the owners prefer not to blatantly refute the origin of the name Michter’s.) I have read of speculation that the first whiskey to be sold under this label may have been sourced from the same distillery where the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye was. In fact, the latest gossip I have found indicates that Julian Van Winkle III came upon a fairly large quantity of rye distilled in the early-mid 1980’s, took the best of the barrels to release under his own labels, and passed along the remaining barrels to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD), who released it under their labels of Black Maple Hill and Vintage Rye. Subsequently, KBD sourced this whiskey for Chatham Imports, the company responsible for marketing and selling the current Michter’s line of whiskeys.

*A little disclaimer here: When you start getting curious about whiskey and the people behind it, you quickly discover that there is nothing simple about discovering all the ins and outs behind ownership, bottling, distillation (mostly distillation), etc of half of the products you see on the shelf; this product is one of those products where brand/marketing and provenance are completely separated. I am not a detective nor a historian. When I get into commenting on industry of whiskey, I have gleaned my ‘facts’ mostly from reading the forum at StraightBourbon.com, as well as a few choice whiskey blogs. I do not consider myself particularly knowledgeable, just thoughtful and interested in the subject matter, and I welcome any fact-checking corrections.*

Anyway, I do believe it is impossible for me to know where the whiskey in my bottle really came from, and whether another bottle at another store will hold the same whiskey as this. I’ve been drinking it as I have untangled my thoughts by writing them down, and it continues to get better (aren’t the last drops always the best?). This whiskey is not readily available in the Chicago area. I saw it at a remote Binny’s location for $100, and I was tempted to snatch it up simply because I hadn’t seen it on local shelves before. I subsequently passed it on a shelf in Boston priced at $80, so when I found it at a small stand-alone shop priced at $62.99, I was ready to spring. That store had another one on the shelf at the same price, but this rye just doesn’t cut it for me.

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~ by WhiskeyWonka on December 19, 2011.

One Response to “Michter’s 10-year Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey”

  1. […] a company uses a classic name like Michter’s to sell their sourced whiskey, they are emphasizing a history that is completely divorced from […]

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