According to many, Michter’s Master Distiller Willie Pratt is often known as Dr. No. He does not release a product until he feels it has achieved the best flavor profile and is ready to be released. It may or may not just be a sound bite, but I do personally know this about him – he is a very knowledgeable individual when it comes to aging whiskey. I have had several opportunities to talk with Willie Pratt, and can say that the man has forgotten more about aging whiskey than I will ever know! He is the person to listen to when it comes to saying yes or no about when a whiskey is ready to bottle.
The distilleries will tell you that from 50% to 70% of the flavor in the bottle comes from the maturation process. The barrel gives the whiskey its color, caramel, and vanilla sweetness, as well as some spice and oak flavors. It is a very important part of the final flavor profile, so the distiller wants to get it correct before they bottle it. I can also say that I’ve never had a Michter’s whiskey that did not get “it” right, so thank you Willie!
Michter’s is now releasing the latest bottling of their 10 Year Single Barrel Rye. I am fortunate enough to have a bottle and shared it with my “sometimes partner in crime” Renae. Our tasting notes are included below. Do not be surprised to see they are different. She has very different taste buds than me, and often finds things that I do not in a whiskey. The key here is we are both right – neither of us is wrong, just different. So read them both, sip some for yourself, and then decide who best matches what you are finding in this excellent whiskey. On the other hand, you just might disagree with the both of us. That is perfectly acceptable because your taste buds are your own. Sip, form your own opinion, and enjoy!
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Rye, 92.8 Proof, Barrel No. 16A137, Bright Amber Color
- Nose: Caramel and fruit – ripe apples and dates. There are some sweet baking spices – nutmeg and allspice, with a little tobacco and oak hiding in the back.
- Taste: Candy apple and spice – cinnamon and nutmeg with a little oak. No burn, but a bit of warmth from the oak and spice. A very nice mouth feel with a bit of chewiness.
- Finish: Starts fruity but dries out with oak and some peppery spice. It last for several minutes mellowing out to an oak dryness that is pleasant.
- Other Notes: I want my pipe now. This will go very well with my favorite pipe tobacco, Kramer’s Black Royal. I think it would also go well with something savory to eat, like a steak.
- Nose: Caramel, honeysuckle, hint of orange citrus – surprisingly minimal spice given it is a Rye.
- Taste: Caramel, bee honey, and now some warm spice kicks-in, coupled with subtle oakiness.
- Finish: Candy apple caramel, warm allspice and nutmeg well rounded with warmth and touch of semi-sweet chocolate. The finish lingers beautifully – nice, warm, and smooth. No burn.
- Other Notes: This would be wonderful as an after dinner digestif, or pair nicely with a piece of rich homemade Red Velvet or German Chocolate Cake. After breathing for a few minutes, a new sip finishes with a more intense and evenly balanced spiced-honey caramel nugget richness!
Photos Courtesy of Renae D. Price