Single Barrel

Review: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon (Spring 2019)

Spring generally means the release of one of my favorite bourbons – Michter’s 10-year-old. This limited release 2019 bottling is the last under the supervision of Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann, who is now retired as of this post. I think Pamela Heilmann has overseen some fantastic releases over the last few years. Cheers to her!

As for the new team, Michter’s Distiller Dan McKee has been promoted to Master Distiller, and Distiller Manager Matt Bell is now Distiller. McKee cut his teeth at Jim Beam, eventually taking on the role as Distillery Supervisor at the Booker Noe Distillery. Bell worked at both Town Branch Distillery and Wild Turkey Distillery.

Onto the whiskey… my sample bottle comes from barrel #190634. It’s bottled at 47.2% ABV, or 94.4 proof. It undergoes Michter’s signature filtration prior to bottling. The suggested retail price is $130.

The nose features a nice mix of classic bourbon notes of caramel, vanilla, orange peel, and oak. Additionally, spiced apples and cigar box join the party. Taste-wise, more of the same: chewy dark caramel, red berries, and vanilla extract meet continuous waves of cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Aromatic oak and herbal notes arrive in the back palate and eventually into the finish, which is long and a bit dry. Lingering notes of oak spice, caramel, and slight barrel char remain.

Ten years is usually my sweet spot in terms of preference of age. If matured properly, the resultant bourbon can be beautifully balanced between both the spirit and barrel influence. This year’s release is certainly well balanced, rich, and complex. One of my favorite bottlings of the last couple of years. 9/10

Michters.com

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

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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

Review: Knob Creek Single Barrel (Maisano’s)

Single barrel whiskey can some of the most unique, flavorful whiskey you can taste. These single barrels can sometimes vary wildly from the brand’s core flavor profile. It could come down to age, warehouse location, or even the barrel itself. Store owners, or those choosing barrels, must sometimes make a decision to choose something close to the brand’s familiar profile to please a wider customer base or they can select something more interesting.

In the case of this Knob Creek selection, Jonathan Maisano of Maisano’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Ocean Springs, Mississippi went with the latter. I know because I offered my opinion during the barrel selection. During this year’s New Orleans Bourbon Festival, Jonathan and I tasted through several barrels of Knob Creek with Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe and his son Freddie.

All six barrel samples were varying degrees of delicious. However, for my tastes, one barrel presented itself as ‘the one’ by all parties involved. This barrel, number 6740, matured for 14 years and two months on the third floor of warehouse X. The barrel selection proof was 124.5, which is really close to the final bottling proof of 120.

The nose features hints of spiced cherries, dark brown sugar and caramel, cinnamon stick and sweet toasted oak. Dark notes dominate the palate: brown sugar, dark chocolate-covered cherries, molasses, and vanilla. A touch of burnt orange peel and leather show on the mid-palate, followed by dusty oak and some more spice heading into the back-palate. The finish is long, with barrel char, tobacco and molasses notes lingering.

What I find fascinating about this barrel is the fact that being so old, its oak notes do not dominate in the least. Those dark, heavy notes are here in spades. As much as I enjoyed Knob Creek 25th Anniversary, this barrel blows it away.

Now for the bad news. As of the writing of this post, which happens to be the day after the barrel pick was released, less than 10 bottles remained in stock. That is not only the sign of a beautiful single barrel of whiskey, but of a store’s loyal fanbase. This one is easily the best Knob Creek Single Barrel bourbon I’ve tasted. 9.5/10