Michter’s 10 Year Rye Background
In this space I like to go into the history of the topic whiskey, which is Michter’s 10 Year Rye. Sometimes the whiskey itself has a story or the bottle commemorates someone with a story. To me the interesting part of American Bourbon and rye is every bottle has a story and that story telling has become an important part of selling whiskey.
Like a lot of new whiskey startups, Michter’s is buying finished product from someone else. They’re an independent bottler. They don’t distill any spirits nor age any barrels. This sucks the romance out of the product, but if the whiskey is good and they’re up front with what’s they’re doing, that’s cool with me. Michter’s isn’t exactly up front with what’s going on. For example, if you visit their website there’s an embarrassingly bad Photoshop hack to make it appear they have barrels aging somewhere. It’s their big hero graphic everyone sees when they visit the site. I have no idea why someone would do this or even worse keep it online after being called out on it. It really makes for a lot of questions about the people behind the bottles.
Joe Magliocco of Chatham Imports is the owner of the Michter’s brand. Michter’s was a famous brand of whiskey out of the storied Bomberger’s Distillery in Pennsylvania. Magliocco bought the brand in 2011 and built up the modern Michter’s brand by sourcing some reportedly very good whiskey. That’s sounds great. That whiskey is apparently gone and now something else is in the same bottles. Michter’s isn’t the only one who has done this, so I don’t want to single them out, but as a consumer I’d like when the contents of a bottle complete changes. The Bourbon business has a very long history of keeping customers in the dark as to what they’re buying, so I probably shouldn’t harp on this too much. It’s always a matter of trust, and going back to that Photoshop stuff, that doesn’t inspire a lot of trust or even good judgment.
Anyway. Here we have Michter’s 10 Year Rye. I have no idea where it came from. From my research I’m not sure I could even give you a good guess. If anyone knows, I’m all ears. One thing for sure though, there aren’t too many 10 year old American ryes on the market, so that’s at least noteworthy about Michter’s 10 Year Rye.
10 Years Old. Bottled at 46.5%. Barrel 14C174. No guess on mash bill. Paid $100
Caramel. Spearmint, Vanilla, Cocoa. Gingerbread. Charred oak.
Toffee, burnt sugars. Sweetness. Minty, pine. Mocha cocoa. Some smokey buttery phenolics. Charred oak with a bit of astringency. Mild spice in the finish. Warming alcohol. Nice layered flavors.
So, I like this bottle. It’s a nice drinker with good complexity and layered flavors. I beat up Old Overholt on phenolics that came across as medicinal/band aids. Some similar rye phenols are present here in Michter’s 10 Year Rye, but I think more pleasant in the smokey side of things.
Since I don’t know much about the rye recipe, I’m left looking at comparable bottles in price, age, and flavor. My question is it worth the trouble and price tag vs what is generally more available?
One rye I really like and I think is a good comparison is Colonel EH Taylor Jr Rye. This is one of my favorite ryes and is a bit pricy, but not impossible to find. I don’t know much about the age, but it seems to drink like an older bottle. I think this is close. I prefer Michter’s 10 Year Rye, but given the price and availability, if I have a reliable source for EH Taylor Jr Rye I won’t be heartbroken if I never find a bottle of Michter’s 10 Year Rye again. I also lined up Russell’s Reserve Rye and that’s another of my favorites. At about 1/3 the price it’s a great value for a nice whiskey, but not in the same league straight up. The next comparison was High West Rendezvous. I gave that my highest rating and it’s a great bottle for rye lovers. It’s a little goofy though with the blended young and older ryes. I don’t think it’s a very good comparison since they’re kind of different products. Still it’s a nice whiskey with a more reasonable price and is widely available. Last I looked at another Michter’s bottle, Michter’s US 1 Rye. To me, this was no comparison. While Michter’s US 1 Rye is a nice drinker, it’s sweeter and lacks much of the depth and character of the older Michter’s 10 Year Rye.
So, basically we’ve got a very nice bottle of Michter’s 10 Year Rye from an unknown providence. I’m pleased with the purchase and I’ll enjoy it. If I happen to stumble across another bottle, especially from this barrel, I’ll probably grab it because I did enjoy it. If not, I’ll be content with other whiskey.
Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)