As seems to be the case with almost any whiskey release these days it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s been some controversy over this product, but the Michter’s horse has been beaten so hard (for good reason) that it’s soon to be reincarnated as a whiskey critic, so I’ll leave it at that.
There’s been positive attention for this release also. A lot of it.
Some very positive attention, actually…
— FredMinnick (@FredMinnick) October 4, 2014
These are guys I normally trust, so I had to find out if this amount of hype was valid. One of the best releases of the year? I had high hopes…
Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon Whiskey
This is Michter’s standard US-1 Bourbon that is aged for an additional “period” in toasted (not charred) barrels constructed from staves that were air-dried for 18 months.
45.7% ABV | 91.4 Proof
Released Fall 2014
Full disclosure, this is the first and only Michter’s product I’ve purchased, so I have absolutely no benchmark for comparison.
When I first opened this bottle the nose was heavy on nutty aromas and a bit off-putting, but after about a month resting at the shoulder it has developed into a sweeter more approachable bouquet.
It’s thin with a hint of syrup and honey, followed by big notes of artificial caramel and faint traces of butter. Burnt vanilla hangs out in the background like a wallflower before a reluctant vinyl aroma emerges over time.
Nosing from the side of the glass you get alcohol, but directly from the center it seems watered down, which is interesting. After swirling the whiskey in my glass I notice there are absolutely no legs. I mean none, the glass remains crystal clear. Wait, there they are, one — no — two of them. While I do understand this doesn’t exactly mean much (other than it’s likely been stripped of its manhood?), it does strike me as peculiar.
On the first sip, alcohol rushes out of the glass and shoots straight across the tongue carrying sharp cinnamon and is long gone before I realize it. This is very light overall, but with more alcohol than would be expected at 91.4 proof.
After a few sips, notes of unsalted and otherwise as-neutral-as-possible toasted almonds arrive. The typical ensemble of vanilla & caramel sings a soft tune as though under water. ‘Tis the season.
The finish seems to be in such a hurry it doesn’t exit the train to say hello. It’s just gone, passing straight through the station without so much as a wave goodbye.
I can’t get over how non-existent the finish is. It’s fascinating. If you are one who enjoys your bourbon to disappear like a bandit without a trace, this is the stuff for you.
I will give the nose some credit, it’s good, but the palate is lackluster. This whiskey invites you to what you expect to be a fancy dinner, but brings you to one of those restaurants that dedicates so much attention to the presentation and methodology of the menu that the cuisine ultimately suffers. Yet, overall it remains decent enough to please most through simple sustenance.
You, my friend, get by.
I’ve heard and read a lot of comments that this is similar to Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, and while there are some similarities, this is MUCH easier drinking and less, um, intimidating. I haven’t compared the two side-by-side, but from memory this is less of an oaky screaming infant and lacks the thick chocolate profile the Woodford throws right at you like a baby playing with their food.
I can certainly understand how this is palatable to some, but it doesn’t do much for me. It’s not off-putting or bad, just light and easy-drinking; a bit boring. If that’s your thing, buy a bottle.