toasted barrel finish

Review: Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye (2020)

For the last several years, Michter’s has knocked it out of the park with their toasted barrel finished whiskies. While they were all of outstanding quality, the one that stood out for me was their Toasted Barrel Finish Rye Whiskey. There was something special about it. Here’s what I wrote about their 2017 release:

The nose is ripe with dark brown sugar, vanilla and a cornucopia of baking spices.  The latter is more pronounced here than in Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye.  On the palate, this toasted barrel-finished rye comes across as rich and bittersweet.  Dark caramel and burnt sugar kick things off, followed by lovely toasted rye bread and a cabinet full of baking spices like allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  A layer of vanilla cream acts as a counterbalance against all the spice.  The medium-length finish features spiced caramel and a touch of smoke.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Part of the reason is the quality of those custom toasted barrels, which were made from 24 month seasoned wood. The barrel finishing adds layers of baking spice and vanilla richness to an already bold rye whiskey. That rye whiskey also obtains its richness from a lower barrel entry proof. Michter’s new make spirit enters the barrel at 103 proof as opposed to the standard 125 proof used by a lot of other distillers.

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye is bottled at cask strength, with the average bottling proof sitting around 109. My sample bottle came in at 110 proof, though it drinks more like a 95 or 100 proof whiskey. As far as tasting notes, I’m keen to ask you to refer to my notes for the 2017 release above. My 2020 sample shows very slight subtleties, such as a touch of burnt orange peel in the mid-palate. After all, these are single barrel releases so slight variance is to be expected. But this goes to show the strict tolerances in keeping their flavor profile intact between releases. Kudos to the Michter’s team. For a suggested retail price of $85, you can’t find a much tastier rye on the market.

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

Review: Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (2018)


Three years can seemingly fly by, especially as we get older.  Other times, that same amount of time can seem like an eternity.  That second description is certainly the case with Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish bourbon, which hasn’t been released since 2015.

Why the long wait?  The answer is simple: Michter’s is experiencing whiskey shortages.  That’s according to Michter’s President Joe Magliocco, who also said the distillery doesn’t make enough whiskey to meet demand.  Though they aren’t by any means a small craft distillery, Michter’s is a much smaller operation than a giant like Jim Beam.  Their limited releases aren’t too easy to find on shelves.

When Toasted Barrel Finish bourbon was last released in 2015, I didn’t get around to tasting it.  Locally, the only place that had any bottles left charged an arm and a leg.  I don’t buy into price gouging.  Fast forward three years, a package containing a bottle of the 2018 release showed up at my door.  Joy!

For this expression, Michter’s aged its fully-matured bourbon in a second barrel that was  toasted but not charred.  The whisky is bottled at 91.4 proof, or 45.7% abv.  Suggested retail price for a bottle is $60.

I absolutely love the nose here.  It has hints of smores, ground cinnamon & nutmeg, roasted hazelnuts and vanilla.  The palate is equally inviting.  On entry, rich caramel is the initial note, followed quickly by an explosion of baking spices and espresso.  Waves of creamy vanilla and some mint keep the whiskey from getting too spicy.  Oak spice and dark chocolate develop on the back palate.  The finish is long, with lingering notes of cola and nutmeg.

This release was well worth the long wait.  That toasted barrel finish accentuates those spice notes, imparts slightly darker and more complex notes to their standard bourbon.  My only gripe?  I would have liked to have seen a barrel proof version of this.  Michter’s did it with their Toasted Barrel Finish rye whiskey.  Why not here?  But focusing on what we have in the bottle, I have to say it’s a beautiful, rich bourbon.  This one’s an easy recommendation! 8.5/10

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

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