Michter’s Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Review

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Proof:  108 Proof (54% ABV), No Age Statement (Batch 15C210)

Rating: 4 Barrels (4 out of 5)

Recently, I had an opportunity to sample Michter’s new Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey.  Michter’s was very kind to mail this sample bottle all the way to Japan, so I should note that the gesture was much appreciated.  That said, I have always been a fan of their Kentucky Straight Bourbon and I enjoyed the last bottle I purchased of their US1 Sour Mash.  I was excited to taste a barrel strength rye and I think I had a set of tastes and smells that I expected from this expression before I even opened the bottle.  My assumptions were completely incorrect, but we can talk about that in the tasting notes below.  As part of what Michter’s is calling a limited release, not all of the bottles will be the same proof.  The highest proof barrel in this batch of Kentucky Straight Rye was 113, but most barrels ranged between 108 and 110.8.  My sample bottle was 108 proof.

Full Press Release from Michter’s:

This Spring will mark the first time that Michter’s Distillery, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is releasing its US*1 Barrel Strength Rye. The release will be on a limited basis.

A Kentucky Straight Rye, Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye is bottled at barrel strength rather than the 84.8 proof alcohol level of Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Rye. The barrel entry proof for the product was 103 proof, a strength that Michter’s believes will yield a richer, smoother product than a higher entry proof would. After aging, the barrel proof for the majority of barrels of this first release ranged between 108 proof to 110.8 proof. The single highest proof barrel reached a strength of 113 proof.

“Whenever we would sample right out of the US*1 Rye barrels, we loved the whiskey. We thought that our loyal US*1 Single Barrel Rye customers would enjoy tasting some at barrel strength,” said Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco.

 Michter’s has a rich legacy of offering traditional American whiskeys of uncompromising quality. With each type of whiskey aged to its peak maturity, Michter’s highly acclaimed portfolio includes single barrel rye, small batch American whiskey, sour mash whiskey, single barrel bourbon, and small batch bourbon.

 Michter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Rye is offered in the U.S. at a suggested retail price of $75 per 750ml bottle

Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I tasted this rye whiskey neat.

Nose: To be completely honest, I thought there would be a burst of spice, mint, and alcohol on the nose given this rye is barrel strength.  I was way off base on that assumption.  This whiskey opens up on the nose with notes of butterscotch, amaretto, the sweetness of clover honey, and wafts of vanilla bean.  There’s a touch of alcohol and oak at the end.

First Sip: The first taste of this barrel strength rye whiskey was much smoother than I expected.  The introduction was somewhat neutral with a wash of caramels and light vanilla and a touch of citrus.  The toasted oak comes back as well, but just for a moment.

Mouth Feel: This whiskey sits full in the mouth with a very coating feel.  It almost invites you to chew it as you search for more flavors.  Rolling around the viscous spirit in successive sips, I was not able to pick up anything else.

Finish: The finish is medium to long with a cinnamon spice and a hint of mint and cloves.  There is a welcome and expected burn from the whiskey on the exit.

Summary: This barrel strength rye whiskey is not what I expected.  It has a very unique character and seems to invite successive tastes to solve the full mystery of it’s flavor profile.  The tasting point I kept coming back to was the taste at the first sip.  I was really wanting that crisp rye spice note up front, but it was not present in my sample.  This whiskey, in my opinion, is made to be sipped neat.  I believe that the smooth nature of this whiskey will find a welcome home with some rye fans and will disappoint those that may be looking for a little more spice and front-end character.  At $75 a bottle, I think it will find several competitors, but few that possess it’s unique smooth entrance.  I am curious to see what differences may exist between the different proof bottlings.

Cheers!

Fork&∓Stave