Reviews

Review: Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey (2019)

One thing Michter’s does well is produce a rich whiskey. Their April 2019 release of barrel strength rye whiskey is no exception. I consider it one of the brand’s trademark characteristics.

Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson may have an explanation for that. “The increased corn and malted barley used in the rye recipe really allows the barrel to transform the product into a super smooth, rich, and complex rye whiskey with an elegance on the palate.”

Another factor could be the low barrel entry proof Michter’s employs. Straight whiskey requires barrel entry proof no higher than 125 proof, or 62.5% ABV. Michter’s whiskey goes into the barrel at a much lower 103 proof.

The single barrel whiskies in this release have an average bottling proof of 110.8. My sample bottle, 19C472, is right under that at 109.8 proof. It’s where I’d typically add a splash of water, but not here. This whiskey is fantastic right out of the bottle.

The nose features hints of brown sugar, maple syrup, rye toast, vanilla, and some oak. On the palate, things aren’t as sweet as the nose suggests. Sure, the rich brown sugar is there, but it’s accompanied by orange peel, cardamom, bitter herbs, and rye spice. That last one ramps up in intensity to a satisfying but not overwhelming level. The finish features spiced cocoa, caramel, and tobacco.

Single barrels are different by nature. So while yours may vary a little, the big picture in terms of flavor profile remains constant barrel to barrel. The good news is Michter’s barrel strength rye whiskey is an example of a not-too-spicy rye whiskey with slightly concentrated flavors. It’s the right flavor delivered at the right proof. It’s worth every penny of the suggested retail price of $75. What boggles my mind is why this bold expression isn’t as popular as some of Michter’s older age-stated whiskies. It’s cheaper by a large fraction, but can still be somewhat easily found. I guess that just means there is more for the rest of us. Highly recommended. 8.5/10

michters.com

Thanks to Michter’s for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel (2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

We close our series of 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival single barrel picks with this lovely bottle – a 14-year-old Tennessee straight bourbon from Barrell Bourbon. As always, the brand bottles everything at cask strength. In this case, it means 118.12 proof, or 59.06% ABV.

I tagged along with Barbara & Tracy Napolitano and others to select a barrel. We were given three choices, which were arranged by proof. We didn’t know the age or any other information. The first sample was a bit too “Dickel” on the nose, with big corn and mineral notes. The second was dripping with lovely red fruit. As soon as the third barrel sample enveloped my senses, I knew it was a winner.

On the nose, dark chocolate covered caramel kicks things off alongside aromas of baking spice, fruit, some vanilla pod, and old oak. This whiskey screams balance on the palate. Orange peel and black cherries meet dark caramel and honey. A wave of baking spices (cinnamon and cardamon) washes over the mid-palate. Developing soon after are cigar box and some dark, oaky notes. The finish is long, with a sweet tobacco, cardamon, and caramel chew.

This barrel represents classic bourbon, or at least what I consider that to be. Lots of caramel, vanilla, fruit, spice, and oak. Again, everything comes together in harmony. Based on the completely different flavor profiles of the three barrel samples we tried, the folks at Barrell really have a wide arsenal of flavors to work with when blending their batches. I’m glad I got a chance to try this bottle. It’s superb. 9/10

Review: Old Forester Single Barrels (2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

Leave it to the New Orlean Bourbon Festival to pick not one, but two barrels of Old Forester, aptly named “Mix” and “Sip”.  Both barrels rested on the first floor of Warehouse O.  There is no age information available, and both releases are bottled at 90 proof.  These barrels were picked by Michael Veach, Rosemary Miller, Peggy Noe Stevens, Jason Brauner, Steve Akley, Old Forester’s Jackie Zykan, and Barbara & Tracy Napolitano.  Quite the impressive team.

MIX

The nose seems a bit youthful and slightly subdued with hints of ethanol, spice, and slightly burnt caramel. A little airtime reveals roasted corn and a floral note.  The palate is generally sweet with candied corn and molasses.  A bit of baking spice develops mid-palate.  The medium finish with lingering notes of honey, anise, and oak.

SIP

This goes to show how different barrels can be.  The nose here is fuller than “Mix” with hints of red fruits, caramel, honey, and some toasted oak.  Like its sibling, “Sip” starts out a bit sweet with honeyed red fruit and caramel.  A wave of baking spices and roasted corn develop, followed closely by slightly astringent oak.  The finish is longer, with hints of spice, caramel, and a note reminiscent of root beer concentrate.

Like I mentioned before, both of these Old Forester single barrel picks are aptly named.  “Mix” could be fantastic in a Mint Julep or Old Fashioned.  It’s not very complex, but has just enough character to stand out in those cocktails.  Meanwhile, “Sip” is a bourbon I could pour over and over.  It has a slightly heavier mouthfeel than “Mix”, and that really interesting finish…  Come on, root beer!

Mix: 6.5/10

Sip: 8/10