In the mid twentiethcentury the Michter’s Distillery was created as a tourist attraction by the Bomberger Distillery in Schafferstown, Pennsylvania. Located on the campus of the larger distillery, it consisted of a small pot still operation that made a very limited amount of whiskey per day. It was also decided that the whiskey made needed to be something different – not a Rye or a Bourbon. It would be simply called a “Sour Mash” whiskey. Originally, the mash bill was 45% corn, 45% rye and 10% malted barley. It could not be called a Bourbon or a rye since it did not have a dominant grain, so they simply called it a “Sour Mash”. The brand went belly up in the late 1980s and was purchased by Chatham Imports in the late 1990s. They started contract distilling the Sour Mash whiskey by the beginning of the twenty-first century and kept the brand alive. The new owners are protective of their mash bill and say it is not the same as the original, but it is a very good whiskey. They do say that Sour Mash Whiskey falls in neither category so I would guess there was a change in the amount of malt used. Having tried the original whiskey and this modern version, I think I like the modern just as well as the original Pennsylvania whiskey.
Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Butterscotch with ripe pears and apples. A bit of white pepper spice and oak.
Taste: Caramel corn, apples and white pepper with a hint of oak wood. Tasted with a cranberry and there was less pepper and more caramel and apples. Tasted with a pecan and the pepper and oak come forward with only a little caramel.
Finish: Medium long with oak and pepper spice. The cranberry lessened the pepper and brought forward the oak. The pecan lengthened the finish and brought forward some fruit sweetness to balance the oak dryness.
I decided to pair this with an A. Fuente “Between the Lines” cigar. I find the smoke rich in tobacco earthiness with some vanilla and cedar spice. The whiskey sweetened the smoke adding a hint of caramel, while the smoke brought out a citrus note in the whiskey and made the pepper spice sweeter and more of a baking spice – allspice and cinnamon. It was an enjoyable pairing.