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Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye

Michter's Single
Barrel Straight Rye


By Robert Plotkin

You can't get more American than Michter's whiskey. As this country's first whiskey company, Michter's can trace its lineage back to 1753 making it older than our Republic itself. For the good folks who produce the whiskey, the distillery's iconic status is both an honor and an everpresent challenge.

"We work hard to make the finest American whiskey possible," says Michter's President Joe Magliocco. "We've taken to heart the Michter's motto, 'Cost Be Damned,' and spare no expense in our production of the finest rye, bourbon and American whiskeys."

Magliocco and company therefore employ practices that other whiskey makers abandoned long ago as too costly or labor-intensive. For example, Michter's toasts and fire-chars their oak barrels for better concentration of the sugars in the wood. It sometimes air-dries barrel staves for up to 36 months, and rick their barrels in heated warehouses. All of which are expensive practices, yet they hasten and improve the whiskeys' maturation.

Magliocco adds that Michter's Rye and Bourbon are put in the barrel at a relatively low 103-proof to further improve the aging process. "Whiskeys are usually barreled at 125-proof after they come off the still. However, barreling at 103-proof allows for the concentrated sugars in the toasted and charred wood to dissolve more readily into the whiskey as it cycles in and out of the staves. Even though the lower entry proof yields fewer bottles per barrel, we believe the richer flavor makes it worth it."

Rye is a challenging grain to distill, but Michter's Master Distiller Willie Pratt and Distiller Pamela Heilmann make it look easy. Produced in limited quantities, Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye is matured a minimum of 4 years in fire-charred, American white oak barrels. After it reaches peak maturity, the whiskey is chill-filtered and then bottled at 42.4% alcohol (84.8 proof).

Critically acclaimed Michter's Rye possesses all of the characteristics that have made American ryes a global favorite. It has a dark amber/brown appearance, a silky, medium-weight body and an alluring mocha, fruit and baking spice nose. While its aromatics alone are well worth the price of admission, more pleasures await. The palate presents an equally impressive array of flavors, including caramel, honey, black pepper, orange zest and rye bread. The lingering finish is spicy warm and thoroughly satisfying.

The Louisville-based distillery also produces Michter's Small Batch Bourbon, a handcrafted whiskey made in small batches consisting of no more than 2-dozen barrels. It is distilled predominantly from premium select corn and is aged sometimes for 8 years or more in charred, new American white oak barrels. It's bottled at 45.7% alcohol (91.4 proof). The reddish/brown whiskey has a seamlessly smooth body and a generous honey, raisin, pepper and grain nose. The broad palate offers up the flavors of red fruit, semisweet corn and toasted oak. It finishes long and flavorful.

Michter's Small Batch Unblended American Whiskey is a classic sipper with an abundance of charm and appeal. While the exact composition of its mash bill isn't divulged, one can reasonably presume it's made with corn, rye and malted barley. The whiskey is matured for 4 years in ex-bourbon white oak barrels, chill-filtered and bottled at 41.7% alcohol (83.4 proof).

A quick sniff, sip and swallow and you'll be a fan. Michter's Unblended American Whiskey has a dark amber hue with reddish highlights, a velvety textured, medium-weight body and an alluring set of semisweet aromatics—vanilla bean, caramel, roasted corn and toasted oak. The palate features sustained notes of butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried fruit and spicy rye.

Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey is a traditional style of American whiskey. The term "sour mash" refers to the whiskey-making process in which a portion of the previously fermented mash is used as the starter for the next mash to be fermented. It's much like making sourdough bread. The intent is to create continuity between the batches and consistency between the finished whiskeys.

Michter's Sour Mash, 86-proof, has a deep copper/amber hue, a silky, lightweight body and the aromas of honey, zesty citrus, caramel and flora. The longer the whiskey is allowed to breathe, the more aromatic it becomes. The palate delivers loads of vibrant spiciness and fruit flavors on the finish.

Magliocco believes the consumer mega-trend towards quality products has helped handcrafted whiskeys like Michter's Rye and Bourbon. "Much of the credit for the trend should go to the innovative bartenders and mixologists who've shown that great whiskeys like Michter's make a perfect foundation for craft cocktails."