Michter’s has been named the Most Admired Whiskey in 2023 by Drinks International, an international group made up of spirit buyers, journalist, bartenders and whiskey experts from more than 20 countries. It is a significant achievement, being the first American whiskey to earn this honor. What it says is American whiskey is as good as whiskey from Scotland, Ireland or Japan. It is a similar breakthrough for American whiskey as the Judgement of Paris in 1976 was for California wines. It is a well deserved honor.
I have always had nothing but respect for the Michter’s brand and distillery. I was not part of the judging that chose Michter’s as the Most Admired Whiskey in 2023, but if I had been, I would support this decision 100% and here is why:
- The quality of the team making a selling Michter’s whiskeys. This team has a long tradition of quality people starting with Willie Pratt and continuing with Pam Heilmann and Dan McKee as their Master Distillers and Andrea Wilson as Master of Maturation. Their sells crew is also excellent. They have very friendly and personable people at all events such as the New Orleans or St. Louis Bourbon Festivals.
- Michter’s puts the quality of their whiskey above profits. They could make more money by taking short cuts in the distillation process, but they don’t.
- They have a low barrel entry proof which harkens back to reason 1, but deserves a mention in itself since it is part of the maturation process, not the distillation process. Lower barrel entry proof gives the whiskey more flavor form the mash bill and more sweetness from the oak at an earlier age.
- Their filtration program. Willy Pratt, their first Master Distiller, set up different filtrations for each of their whiskeys, working to take out the off flavors while keeping the good flavors. Most distilleries have a one size fits all philosophy about filtration, which is cheaper and it works, but Michter’s takes that extra step with their whiskeys and it comes out in the taste.
- Michter’s has an excellent reputation for public service in the hospitality industry. I have been to several free programs put together by Michter’s, where the local bartending and other service workers were invited to learn about their craft. Michter’s puts together a program that includes food and cocktails. Most recently, they invited bar managers from Four Seasons hotels from around the world to talk about how they turned their hotel bars into destination bars that attracted more than the hotel guests to come and drink at the bar.
- Michter’s has a high standard for putting on programs. They always welcome groups to tour their distillery and arrange an excellent tasting after the tour, that includes food. Most recently, I was with the staff of the Crunkleton – both the bar in Chapel Hill and the bar/restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina who came to Kentucky for education about Bourbon. They had an excellent tour and tasting at the distillery followed by drinks at the Bar at Fort Nelson.
I want to congratulate Michter’s on this award. It is well deserved. I hope to see other American Distilleries and brands earn this award in the future. However, I will say that Michter’s has set a high bar for the award and that too, is a good thing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller