Sunday, November 29, 2020


Its time! I feel like by now I’ve reviewed just about every major us bourbon distillery and yet somehow I’ve completely not touched on Michter’s which has a range of products from humble, but very palatable, US-1 line all the way to, silly expensive, Michter’s 25 year bourbon. Read their specs and story here: Perhaps I’ve been simply collecting samples for a line up…. Let’s gooooo!

Michter’s 10 year Bourbon 2018
Corn mash forward nose that’s not very sweet but not super pleasant as it has some sour notes in the play as corn does. Leaves almost a (cheap-ish) aftershave cologne smell after the corn notes drift away. The palate is an interesting mix and a juxtaposition (oooh I used a fancy word) of flavors so tightly packed that it feels like they’re gone instantly after a sip from the glass. Notably not very sweet or spicy compared to other distilleries, this seems to be Michter’s own character on display and I would expect this theme to continue through the rest of the review. This bourbon requires time and tiny sips to get it to display its beauty. Casual drinkers beware… without contemplation and making this an experience… the flavor is lost and this would taste borderline bland and uninteresting. Fairly short aftertaste where some of the more subtle flavors linger with a little bit of sweetness coming back. It’s a delicate one for sure. Water doesn’t do much to it, slightly opens up but not dramatically so. No real downsides and yet no greatness either. Good solid bourbon that should be about 100 bucks, not $150. At the price and availability… I’m having a hard time recommending a bottle. If you can find a sample or a bar pour at cost… do it for the checkbox.
Score: B-

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon 2020
Sweet corn caramel on the nose is in play here that offsets some sour whiffs and balances the notes into very pleasant nosing experience. I’ll sorta summarize it as such: take the review of the 10 from above; add more typical bourbon sweetness to it and a little bit more ‘roughness’ on the alcohol side. If i couldn’t really taste the alcohol in the 10 year, this one, while notably few points of proof lower is much more active on the palate. The alcohol-forward palate makes for a bit of a ‘mess’ which somewhat kills the experience. Paradoxically, this seems to have both nose, palate and a semblance of an aftertaste that’s tries to be of some interest but ends up being a little bit off the mark in each case. Adding water doesn’t do this any favors either. At $80 MSRP, this is making me reach for a Heaven Hill’s $17 Fighting Cock which is essentially on par with it in nearly every way (Disclaimer: to my palate preferences).
Score: C

Shenk’s 2020
Woody and slightly eucalyptus-like nose. Almost like walking through a pine forest or perhaps I’m getting some fresh dill. The nose by itself reminds me somewhat of Old Potrero Malted Rye…. And so does the palate. This feels like a mix of Old Potrero https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201115-213721 with Bomberger’s (review of that below). This is really… REALLY good to me. Slight downside is the lack of primary aftertaste that lasts. The secondary notes in that sticky rye bread flavor lasts a while but the primary flavors are gone fairly quick as per modus operandi of just about every Michter’s so far (and also just about every bourbon). Few drops of water makes the rye really sing and brings back the aftertaste. This is good, real good!
Score: A

Bomberger’s 2020
Light sweet cologne flavors with sweet vanilla caramel that are pleasant though disappear quickly. Rich, sweet and caramel-forward on the palate with some corn and wood notes. This is what a good bourbon should be like. The aftertaste is short but pleasant with lingering vanilla, wood caramel notes that cascade over each other into pleasant warmth. Arguably, a touch of too much barrel influence is felt on the palate for this one but overall this is a very good drink. Water tames the concentration somewhat but and brings interesting toasted wood notes to the fore. Little torn on water, but I’d skip adding water since the proof isn’t that high to begin with.
Score: B+

Shenk’s 2019
Typical Michter’s bourbon nose on this one with a splash of malted rye notes (fresh rye bread), but the rye influence is restrained. On the palate rye influence and bread notes are visible all over but they are well balanced by the bourbon itself. At typical, borderline-too-much-wood-tannins but that can be tamed with a few drops of water. The aftertaste lasts for a while but it’s mostly-wood influenced… then wait…. oh, hi there rye… I’ll go on a limb to say that Shenk’s has some malted rye content in the mash itself to taste the way it does (rye bread). Is it polarizing flavor? Perhaps! Do I like malted rye? Yes! Do I want more malted rye bourbons? YES! Few drops of water makes the rye really sing and brings back the aftertaste. This is good, but not quite there.
Score: A-

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Rye 2020
Sweet brown sugar and wisps of campfire smoke on the nose. Sweet and lively palate, tiny bit alcohol forward that almost feels like ginger spice, leather and tobacco notes make themselves known. Medium-length, warm, but ultimately boring aftertaste of the palate flavors. In many ways this is what I would want out of a rye whiskey, lively palate, sweet notes and lots of different flavors intermixed… Yet, this is let down by its own age and being rough around the edges. The toasted barrel, while arguably adding tobacco, and char notes, doesn’t do the wood balance any favors and would overwhelm the palate if it was any more pronounced… Just finish some older rye already. Can we have a 10 year rye toasted barrel finish pretty please? That would be swell! Seek this out at a bar if you can, it is well worth it.
Score: B

Michter’s 10 Year Rye 2020
Bits of savory rye bread on the nose combined with restrained caramel sweetness. Somewhat grassy (but no dill), eucalyptus, sweet caramel, pine needles on the mouth. Full of rolling waves of flavor even while being only 92.8 proof Wonderfully balanced. Amazing, warming and long aftertaste that lasts a while. This is quite delicious drink and borderline worth its $199 MSRP. A slightly tannic note at the end of aftertaste is the only minor detriment I can think of here. Water opens it up a little bit into sweeter notes but it is not strictly necessary.
Score: A-

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown