Michter’s is a brand that’s bound to leave folks with a host of questions. Some of these might be simple, such as the origin of the name Michter’s (short version: Michael + Peter), while others don’t have a straightforward answer, like the on/off availability and pricing for certain expressions. Until today the last and only time I’d looked at something out of Michter’s was the 2019 bottling of Shenk’s, which was nice and enjoyable but ultimately unimpressive. Otherwise, my exposure to the brand has been fairly limited, with their mostly available bourbon being decent, the Sour Mash Toasted Bourbon being a hard pass, and the standard Single Barrel Rye being a personal favorite.
Today we’re looking at one of Michter’s most sought-after expressions: their 10-Year Single Barrel Bourbon. Their site describes it as “mature in age and truly exceptional in quality.” Amusingly, on the same page, they boast about how a private barrel bottling for their 10-Year Bourbon sold at a London auction for the equivalent of over $200K USD. But don’t let that scare you; Michter’s 10-Year Single Barrel Bourbon can potentially be yours when it releases for the low MSRP of $150. I thankfully got to sample it, so let’s see if I think it punches at either price point:
Nose: Big cherry candy with sweet oak. Vanilla and mellow licorice blend together surprisingly well. Feels nicely layered. Hints of tobacco and banana accent the whole experience. A general mustiness shows through after a light swirl. Caramel comes to mind after sipping, but it’s on the tame side.
Palate: Strong oak personality and some tobacco with a good level of sweetness to keep the experience balanced. Lukewarm cherry licorice, vanilla, and a mild to moderate level of dark brown sugar.
Finish: Fairly mild, though more sips help build it up. Oak, tobacco, and a sliver of molasses. Vanilla builds with each sip, joined by cherry residuals.
Michter’s 10-Year Single Barrel Bourbon is a solid reminder of how enjoyable a properly balanced bourbon can be. I come from the “bigger flavor is better” line of thought, but there’s something to be said for whiskey that delivers a delicious, flavorful experience while asking very little of its drinker. This is one of those. The bourbon’s age feels just right with a sweet, borderline rich oak flavor bringing plenty of fruit and a supple supply of dessert and candy-like flavors. Even the weakest part of the pour, the finish, seems to get better and almost find its own groove after letting a few sips sit. Altogether I’d say Michter’s have a winning pour on their hands here, one that I imagine most fans of reasonably aged bourbons would happily enjoy.
Of course, that’s before we address the elephants in the room that are cost and availability. $150 is nothing to scoff at, especially for the majority of drinkers out there. This is the point where we aren’t just considering other big players but multiple smaller players for the same price. Again, what I enjoy about Michter’s 10-Year Single Barrel Bourbon is how balanced it is, and not just from a flavor and composition standpoint. If I served this to an impressionable bourbon drinker or fairly recent convert, I imagine they’d think the world of this. Yet I also think someone who’s been more or less casually drinking bourbon for years and isn’t put off by lower proof points would thoroughly enjoy this. Michter’s hits the mark for both in a way that I’m sure few individual whiskeys could. To that end, it’s the epitome of a crowd-pleaser. Does that mean it justifies such a limited and costly status? That’s ultimately for you to decide. I just happen to think there are better options for the same cost (or less).