rye whiskey

Review: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Rye Whiskey (2019)

Photo courtesy of Blaine Strawn

This 2019 bottling of Michter’s 10-year-old rye whiskey marks the first release by the distillery’s new Master Distiller Dan McKee. The rye whiskey is one of Michter’s most anticipated bottlings, which generally gets released once a year. It certainly holds a place as one of my favorite rye whiskies.

Bottled at 46.4% ABV, or 92.8 proof, my sample bottle comes from barrel 19F965. Michter’s doesn’t disclose their mash bills, but press materials mention “a good amount of corn and malted barley” in addition to rye, which is at least 51%.

The nose includes rich aromas of maple syrup and buttered rye toast as well as a hearty dose of baking spices. On entry, the whiskey appears a little soft on spice. Instead, sweet brown sugar and vanilla coat the palate, allowing those rye notes and baking spices found on the nose to slowly blossom. In terms of spice, think pumpkin pie spice instead of an over-the-top cinnamon candy. Some candied pecan and burnt orange peel notes peak through as well. Heading into the finish, slightly astringent oak grips the palate. Not surprisingly, the medium length finish is sweet, citrusy, and a bit dry.

Michter’s 10-year-old rye never disappoints. The low barrel entry proof helps create a rich spirit, and this whiskey certainly tastes older than its age. In my opinion, it is these two traits that help Michter’s stand out. The suggested retail pricing is $160 for this whiskey, and I think it delivers big yet refined flavors for the asking price. Highly recommended. 9/10


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

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


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

Review: Peerless Rye Single Barrel (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.

I anxiously filled my whiskey glass with the New Orleans Bourbon Festival Peerless Rye whiskey.  Anxious because I’ve avoided the brand until now.  Why?  The high price drove me away.  More than $100 for a 2-year-old rye whiskey.  The last cask strength 2-year-old rye I purchased was Willett Family Estate 2-year-old rye, and that was only about $35 a few years back.

This Peerless Rye was actually first poured a few nights prior, during the premiere episode of the whiskey livestream, Another Round – check it out if you already haven’t.   I liked it.  A lot.  Of course, by the time I poured it I’d already had a couple of drams.

But now it’s time to taste it with a clean palate.  Does it hold up?

The nose is extremely rich and decadent, with a dominating butterscotch note.  Hiding behind are hints of grass, vanilla, and maple.  The palate is equally robust and dessert-like.  It’s big and meaty, with butterscotch, maple syrup, rye spice, and an essence of grilled meat.  The medium-long finish showcases the spiciness of the rye grain complemented by a bed of sweetness.

I like it, but I don’t love it.  To me, that butterscotch note is delightfully intense, but in the end dominates everything, which, in turn, diminishes complexity and balance.  This is one of those whiskies in which I can enjoy a single glass but wouldn’t want a second.  Though it seems to be well-made, the syrupy quality isn’t my cup of tea.  I may be in the minority with this opinion, as it sold very quickly at retail.  Remember, whiskey is subjective by nature, and I think I’ll stick with that 2-year-old Willett Rye instead.  7/10

Thanks to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.