Skip to Content

Hey Michter’s, what’s taking so long with the 2023 Barrel Strength Rye release?

Hey Michter’s, what’s taking so long with the 2023 Barrel Strength Rye release?

Alright, I’ve waited long enough, Michter’s. It’s time to tell us when you’re going to release the 2023 single barrels of your Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey. I’ve been to your gift shop four times this year and I’ve even been lucky enough once to snag a barrel strength rye… only to find out it was a 2022 release. So what gives? Where are the 2023’s?

If you didn’t know by now, Michter’s releases their barrel strength rye whiskey single barrels (they’re all single barrels) only once a year. Your state may receive them on a staggered timeline, but they’re all dumped and bottled in the same month. Historically, they’ve been released by at least by March five out of the seven years they’ve been doing this. How can you tell? Look at the neck tag.

The first two numbers indicate the year it was bottled. The letter represents the month (A for January, B for February, C for March and so on). The numbers that come after the letter represent the single barrel number. Here’s a visual representation.

2015 MBSR – Bottled in March

2016 MBSR – Bottled in March

2018 MBSR – Bottled in June

2019 MBSR – Bottled in March

2020 MBSR – Bottled in June

2021 MBSR – Bottled in February

2022 MBSR – Bottled in February

What this historical timeline tells us is that Michter’s often releases their barrel strength rye whiskey towards the beginning of the year. I like that because a lot of non-enthusiasts wait until the Fall to begin their hunting for rare bottles and most of them completely ignore releases at the beginning of the year. This makes them easier to find. And when they’re easier to find, they don’t have huge secondary market pricetags. Speaking of secondary market, these aren’t immune to markups with lots of people asking for $200 or more. For reference, the bottle normally retails for $90-100.

Speculation on why there is a delay

What the pictures also tell us is that so far, Michter’s has never waited longer than June to release their barrel strength rye. What could be the issue with this year’s release? I’m not sure, but a stab in the dark is that Michter’s might be having some maturation issues with their own distillate.

In August, 2015, Pam Heilman officially filled the first barrel of whiskey at Michter’s brand new distillery in Shively, Kentucky. As with all new operations, I’m sure that there were some early hiccups and that production didn’t just go from 0 to 100 in a day – or even the first few months. So let’s speculate that, realistically, Michter’s didn’t start laying down rye whiskey in any sort of quantity for until January 2016. Couple that with the fact that Michter’s probably ages these barrels for at least 5 years and that could put the first year that their own distillate was bottled as 2021. Let’s say I’m off on the maturation time and that Michter’s lets them age for 6 years instead. That would make 2022 the first time we tasted their own distillate.

But say I really got it wrong and they didn’t like how the barrels have been maturing. Could it be that their own distillate was pushed back until 2023 for release? It’s a stretch, but maybe. Since their barrel strength rye whiskey’s reputation is a huge part of their brand identity, they probably have the highest standards for it. That would mean they won’t release anything until it’s perfect. This could explain the delay.

Is there something that makes this rye whiskey different from the others?

You might be wondering why I care so much. The reason is simple – Michter’s subjectively makes some of the best barrel strength rye whiskey out of all the Kentucky distilleries. It’s not aged that long (like I said, probably 5 years on average) because Michter’s uses expensive heat-cycled warehouses. That means that every year a barrel matures, it will do so at a faster rate than traditional rickhouses. Heat cycling means that steam heat is pumped into the warehouses so that the whiskey never dips below 65 or 70 degrees inside the barrel.

However, evaporation is higher in a heat cycled warehouse (which means less liquid to bottle in the end) and the energy costs of heating them get expensive – fast. I don’t have exact numbers to back this up, but I believe that the extra cost per bottle of whiskey from a heat cycled warehouse will add around $3 to each one. Not insignificant!

By the way, if you want to know which rye whiskey Michter’s comes closest to, look no further than Woodford Reserve’s. Woodford’s rye recipe, known internally as “Old Watermill” consists of 53% rye / 33% Corn / 14% malt. For contrast, Old Forester’s recipe for their rye whiskey is internally known as “Normandy” and uses more rye and malted barley coming in at 65% rye, 15% corn and 20% malted barley.

What does my crystal ball say?

I’m not fortune teller, but if I had to guess when Michter’s was rolling out their barrel strength version, they’ll wait until the weather cools down to get a more accurate picture of how their barrels have matured over the summer. Remember, it’s a fairly modern thing in whiskey distilling to have barrels pulled and bottled at all months of the year. Michter’s might want to keep it old school by doing it later. Historically, distillation and bottling occurred during cooler weather.

If that’s the case, then don’t expect to find a Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye until September or so. Whenever it is, let’s just hope it’s as good as last year’s release!

Featured Products

  • Neat Traveler
  • View Larger
  • Description:The Aged & Ore Neat Traveler is a complete travel kit for spirits. We combined our widely praised Neat Glass with one of our 3oz Flight Bottles and housed them together in a custom EVA travel case. Perfect for a night away with your favorite pour. The tie
  • Bottle Flight
  • View Larger
  • Description:The Aged & Ore Bottle Flight is a premium set of 4 custom silicone wrapped glass bottles designed to transport and share samples of your favorite spirits. The flight bottles come in a custom EVA travel case that fits perfectly in any small bag. An Aged &
  • Travel Bundle
  • View Larger
  • Description:This Bundle combines two of our crowd favorite products, creating the ultimate travel bundle to bring along your favorite spirits and glassware. Bundle Includes: Neat Traveler (Gray) Bottle Flight (Gray) Note: This bundle is only available in gray and col

*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.