Michter’s – US*1 – Barrel Strength – Straight Rye Whiskey – Barrel 15C211 | 55.1% (110.2 Proof)
Rye provided courtesy of Michter’s.
Look/Appearance: Medium amber. Tanned hides and copper. This barrel strength rye release from Michter’s is also single barrel, though you have to search a little to find that information hidden on the back. This makes sense as the front of the bottle already has too much type jammed on there. Basically it is the same Kentucky straight rye as used in the normal US*1 rye, but given to us at cask strength. Sounds pretty exciting, though my enthusiasm is tempered by that fact that this release has no age listed. This is also true for all the whiskies in the US*1 series, but it leads me to to assume it is around four to six years old. It may contain some older stock, but I really don’t know. Let’s see what my barrel holds.
Nose: Pear, pine, oak, rye dough, caraway, orange, marzipan, lavender and flax oil. Comes off a little solventy at first. Then as things expand and slowdown gentle rye and warmer more bourbony notes emerge. Starts scratching the surface of nice deeper rye aromas but seems a little too light and easy for me.
Palate: Liquid drops of minty oak, sweetened with honied tea. Then waves of spices with, black pepper, clove, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The spices seem to ride over the top, and are not fully integrated. But the overall effect is still quite nice and gives you that rye punch you want with no off notes. The best part of this rye is here on the palate, which is where you want to play your strongest hand.
Finish: Spearmint, oak and a little sawdust. The spice brigade slowly gets snuffed out and leads to a very dry and crisp exit. A little bit rough and splintery on the finish but for something this young this is expected.
Overall: This Cask strength rye amps up the flavors from the regular release and pushes the outer limits of what can be done in the US*1 line. It has a lot of character and finesse and is mighty drinkable even undiluted. As with my bottle of their non-cask-strength rye it seems to improve the longer I have the bottle open, where some of the best pours were among the last ones. I am interested to see how this particular bottle develops with age. This natural slow oxidization rounds the profile and fills in gaps with sweeter softer flavors, making for a more pleasing and cohesive whole. I do find myself wishing this was priced a little lower since in this price range there are a couple of other good rye options out there. But it certainly one of the best cask strength non age stated ryes. I do hope they are keeping lots of barrels aging away to make some older ryes. I have tried a small taste of their ten year old rye and found it to be wonderful. But it is so limited in availability that even someone as whiskey obsessed as I, ha not had the opportunity to purchase one. Right now rye is so hot that producers are tripping over themselves to get new products out on the shelves. I hope they are also thinking of the long game and making choices that will allow more advanced ryes to make it to the market too. If not, long term interest in rye will be unsustainable.