Wahay, we’re on to whiskey number 5 of the Advent calendar and we’re only a quarter of the way in to the year. So, for this next dram in the American Whiskey and Bourbon selection, we have a brand I’ve heard of but don’t ever recollect tasting before: Michter’s.
The date on the bottle - 1753 - suggests that this is a brand which has been around for quite some time. And it has. But it also hasn’t.
Brothers Michael and John Shenk established their distillery in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753 and it was this distillery which was bought by Abraham Bomberger in the 1860s. The distillery was renamed Bomberger’s and then renamed again about a hundred years later when it was taken over yet again. This new owner then named the distillery after his two sons: Michael and Peter. And then the distillery closed in 1989.
Chatham Imports acquired the Michter’s brand in 1997 and hence the name was reborn. However, it wasn’t until 2012 when Michter’s opened its own Shively distillery and started to distill its own spirit; up until then, the spirit production was outsourced and it wasn’t until 2015 that Michter’s were able to produce their own whiskey themselves. In 2019, Michter’s whiskey production also started at Fort Nelson distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.
One thing which I noticed on the Michter’s website is that they point out the filling strength of the spirit: 103 proof rather than 125 proof which is the industry norm. Apparently this “allows for the concentrated sugars in the toasted and charred wood to dissolve more readily into the distillate as it cycles in and out of the barrel. Even though the lower entry proof yields fewer bottles per barrel, we believe that the smooth flavour and richer mouthfeel makes it worth it”.
I’m unable to find any details of the mashbill but, as this is a bourbon, we know it must have been at least 51% corn. Re age, as this is a straight bourbon*, this has to be at least 4 years old because the label doesn't carry an age statement.
So, what’s it like?
Michter’s US*1 Bourbon - 45.7%
Nose: there's a slight noseburn initially followed by bread dough and cake mix. There's a hint of rosewater in the background with notes of pumpernickel bread which develop more and more the longer the whiskey is in the glass. After a wee while, notes of red apples come to the fore.
Palate: an initial blast of spice with notes of cinnamon and fresh ginger. After a while there are hints of fresh cinnamon rolls followed by apple crumble with custard. The finish is quite short even though it does linger on the roof of the mouth for short time afterwards. There also a slight burnt sugar bitterness in the finish.
Overall: there’s something about this I’m not too sure about. It seems a tad harsh on the palate at first and not as complex or well rounded as the nose suggests. There's also something about it that seems a wee bit synthetic - I'm afraid that's the only way I can describe it but I can't quite put my finger on it. If it were a tenner or so cheaper, I'd suggest it would be an OK entry level bourbon. But for 50 quid, I'm sure that this really isn't for me.
For those interested in purchasing a bottle, this Michter's US*1 Bourbon is available on Master of Malt: HERE
*You'll notice that in the above image from Master of Malt, the words 'Kentucky Straight' are missing from the label. However, thanks to Alexandra (@non_chillfiltered) and the folk at Master of Malt for confirming that it is a straight bourbon.
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