whiskey review

Review: Michter’s 10-year-old Rye Whiskey (2018)

Michter’s has released their coveted 10-year-old rye whiskey for the first time in more than a year.  The single barrel expression consistently ranks among my favorite rye whiskies. Just like the last time, Michter’s 10-year-old rye barrels were selected by Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson and approved by Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann.

Though Michter’s is currently distilling at their new distillery (a place I really need to visit), the stocks that make up this whiskey came through contract distilling.  That’s different from sourcing whiskey.  Contract distilling means making your whiskey at an existing distillery to your specifications (mash bill, unique yeast strain, etc).

Bottled at 46.4% ABV, or 93.8 proof, Michter’s 10yr rye undergoes the company’s “signature filtration.”  My sample bottle came from barrel no. 18E559.

The nose on this whiskey always does it for me – dark, rich caramels with an abundance of baking spices like nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom, as well as a bit of toasted oak.  On the palate, the whiskey doesn’t disappoint.  Layers and layers of dark caramel wash over the front palate as those lovely spice notes ramp up in intensity.  A little bit of toasted rye is present, as is a touch of vanilla pod.  A dark chocolate note appears mid-palate, along with a touch of leather and oak.  The finish features more caramel alongside toasted coconut,  dried fruit, and spice.

Michter’s has another winner on their hands with this expression.  It keeps in line with a richness found in a lot of Michter’s whiskies.  Decadent is a great descriptor here.  Quite lovely.  A bottle runs a suggested retail price of $160, and I think it’s worth every penny.  Nicely done.  9/10

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

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Review: A batch of Nikka Japanese Whiskies

After reading Brian Ashcraft’s Japanese Whisky, I found myself in a mood to taste some Japanese whiskies.  I reached out to Nikka for help, since I haven’t formally reviewed any of their expressions on this blog.  They were kind enough to send over a few samples.

Nikka is one of the top whisky producers in Japan. In 1934, the company was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky.  He first built the Yoichi distillery on the island of Hokkaido.  Success lead the company to open the Miyagikyo Distillery in 1969.  The distilleries sit in two vastly different sub-climates of Japan, giving the whiskies they produce very different characters, which you’ll soon read about.

Yoichi Single Malt

Yoichi is Nikka’s first distillery, built in 1934. This NAS expression is the entry to the distillery’s single malt range. This whisky matured in new American Oak and Sherry casks, and is bottled at 45% abv.

The nose is briny, with salted caramel, stewed fruit, and a wisp of smoke. On the palate, orange marmalade complements sea weed, oak spice, toffee, and a slightly earthy note. Brine, dark chocolate and rich malt linger on the long finish.

I love the character of this whisky. It’s peated, but that peat isn’t overpowering. The slighly salty notes play really well against the richer, sweeter notes. I think I need more Yoichi in my life! 8.5/10

Miyagikyo Single Malt

This NAS single malt comes from Miyagikyo, Nikka’s second distillery built in 1969. It’s bottled at 45% abv and features malt whiskies matured in new American Oak casks, ex-bourbon oak, and Sherry casks.

The nose is somewhat complex, with those sherry notes slightly dominating. In the background, hints of sweet malt, citrus fruit, woody peat show through. On the palate, sherry leads, with hints of oak, cinnamon, light peat, savory herbs, and sweet malt following. The medium-length finish is features sweet, rich malt and some spiced fruit.

Miyagikyo Single Malt is nicely balanced, with a wonderfully rich mix of fruit, spice, malt and light peat. Though there is no age statement here, I can only imagine what malts this distillery can put out at 12 years or older. This is a fantastic entry to the distillery’s style. 8.5/10

Taketsuru Pure Malt

Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt features malt whiskies from both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries. The whiskies for this blend were pulled from Sherry butts, bourbon barrels, and new American oak casks. Taketsuru Pure Malt is named after the distillery’s founder, Masataka Taketsuru.

The nose is bright, with hints of fresh fruit, lemon peel, wine, and sweet malt. The entry is soft, with light butterscotch and crisp fruit, followed by lemon peel, vanilla, and oak spice. The finish is long, with lingering notes of sweet fruit juice and cinnamon.

Taketsuru Pure Malt is a rather pleasant whisky, and a great entry into the broad Japanese whisky category. It is very well balanced, which speaks to the craftsmanship behind the blend. Nicely done. 8/10

Nikka Coffey Malt

Like its name suggests, Nikka’s Coffey Malt was distilled on one of the company’s two Coffey stills at the Miyagikyo Distillery. It is a NAS expression made from 100% malted barley and bottled at 45% abv.

The whisky has a rather rich but simple nose, with hints of vanilla, sweet malt, and cinnamon. The Coffey still has given this whisky a bit of body, with hints of toffee, cinnamon, toasted oak, and some floral notes. A bit of lemon peel brightens things up. The medium-length finish is sweet, with spiced toffee.

The palate is pleasant, but not complex. Therefore, this whisky might be utilized best as a mixer. 7/10

Nikka.com

Thanks to Nikka for the samples.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon (April 2018 release)

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Whiskey is such a subjective thing.  While I may really enjoy something, you may not.  Or vice versa.  Neither person is right or wrong, mind you.

I say that because I get very split opinions on Michter’s 10. Some people tell me they absolutely love the bourbon. Others tell me recent releases of Michter’s 10-year-old bourbons aren’t good.  “They don’t hold a candle to older bottlings” is another one I hear.    My answer is usually the same – I haven’t tasted older bottlings, and I happen to like the current releases.  I certainly respect everyone’s opinions.  After all, this blog is filled with my opinions. With so many whiskey bloggers out there, it’s important to find a reviewer who tends to have similar tastes as you.

With that said…

This month marks the latest bottling of Michter’s 10-year-old single barrel bourbon.  Both Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann AND Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson have approved the barrels for release.  The two are choosing barrels based on a certain taste profile, though they have to be at least 10 years old.  On a recent episode of WhiskyCast, Heilmann stated the barrels chosen were actually 12 years old.

My sample came from barrel 18B202.  Michter’s 10-year-old bourbon is bottled at 94.4 proof and is available for $120.

The nose is a touch muted at first, but opens up after a few minutes in the glass.  Patience certainly pays off.  There are hints of toffee, burnt orange peel, cinnamon sticks and allspice.  On the palate, nougat, mulling spices and candied fruits appear first.  Waves of vanilla begin to arrive mid-palate, followed by more cinnamon-dominated spices and slightly astringent toasted oak.  One odd thing… the whiskey does feel a touch thin on the mid-palate.  I usually find Michter’s releases to have a rich mouthfeel.  The medium-length finish is spicy and dry.

Overall, the April 2018 release of Michter’s 10-year-old bourbon is quite enjoyable and comes with a high recommendation.  The problem is finding it close to retail pricing, as a lot of retailers seem to raise their prices for this bourbon.  If you do happen across one close to the suggested $120 price, pull the trigger and buy one.  You won’t regret it. 8.5/10

Michters.com

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