Just wanted to take a little time here to reassure my loyal readers that the lack of any recent posts is not some sort of a sign. I have been away visiting family. Rest assured that I have recharged my creative juices, as well as found a couple of exciting whiskies to review. I also have a serious backlog of samples and unopened bottles to review and plan on working my way through those as quickly as possible. On another note I am really looking forward to Autumn’s cooler weather as it is still too hot and humid here. Horrible weather for whisky drinking. Is it okay if I blast the air conditioning just to enhance my whisky enjoyment?
Michter’s – US*1 – Single Barrel – Straight Rye Whiskey – Barrel #14D190 | 42.4% (84.8 Proof) $35.99 (Costco)
Color/Appearance: A nice orange amber. A little lightly colored for rye making me think this must be rather young. Straight rye only needs to be two years old and there seems to be little information about the age of this expression. Most likely it is MGP/LDI sourced rye, although it would be rather humorous if it was in fact from Alberta Distillers in Canada, considering Michter’s overly American marketing. (** See newly added note below.) It has the same bottle as the other whiskies in the US*1 line, which is a great bottle shape with easy pouring and a nice label design. Green is the highlight color here and it works well. If you are not going to distill your own product the least you can do is create a well designed home for it. They also list the barrel info on the label, handwritten in pen, which I am always a fan of. Not a fan of the overly jingoistic American revolution mentions, but what the hell, I am here for the whiskey inside not your attempts to hide the fully sourced truth.
Nose: Wintergreen and rye bread. A little hint of pickle juice. Freshly risen pizza dough. Something a little flinty. Dried flowers, orange peel, and dry grass clippings. An long forgotten perfume sachet in a keepsake wooden box. A solid but unspectacular nose. No wow factor but gives me a good rye presence without any detracting notes.
Palate: Mint and molasses. A nice balance of upfront sweetness and rye spiciness. Orange blossom honey on rye toast. A generous grind of black pepper. A freshly cut bulb of fennel and a dash of cardamom. Dense and flavorful but also rather easy drinking and light. It seems as if the rye intensity is there and then suddenly it has dropped away. There is a strong wood presense but it doesn’t feel terrible integrated. This oak is buried just enough in rye spiciness to remain inoffensive.
Finish: The finish is similar to the palate but in reverse. Starting soft and sweet then moving to a place more herbal and spicy. A solid amount of oak and dryness finish things off.
Overall: I find this to be a simple rye with solid character. It has a good backbone of structure and quality but seems relegated to an easy drinking wasteland. I don’t see myself reaching for this when a friend comes over and mentions that they love rye. I would certainly drink some while grilling in the backyard, but if I felt like treating myself this would not come up for consideration. I find it hard to write enthusiastically about this whiskey. It doesn’t inspire me to go to great lengths to praise it or to expend any energy damning it. It falls in that middle space and for my style of whiskey drinking that isn’t a good place to be. But since I snagged it at Costco for such a great price I am still rather happy to have it in my cabinet for those easy drinking occasions.
** UPDATE 9/17/2014 – I have received information directly from the president of Michter’s, Joe Magliocco informing me of the following.
“Our Michter’s rye, like our bourbon and american whiskey, is distilled in Kentucky.”
I am glad to correct the record on this matter, though it would be nice if they just listed the state of distillation on the bottle. I look forward to the day when they distill all of their own products and I no longer have to guess where the whiskey is coming from.