My first pour of Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon happened early in my bourbon drinking days thanks to a generous friend. I remember it vividly because I was sure that the proof would leave me unimpressed but ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would.
When Rural Inn had their end-of-year raffle in 2018, I selected the bottle you see before you right off the bat. It had left a mark in my mind as being complex, oaky and enjoyable.
Fast forward to 2020 and I finally decided to open it after keeping it sealed for almost two years. It was a sentimental bottle representing my first raffle win. I shared it with another friend that very same evening as we tasted our way through an Old Forester themed night that saw Birthday Bourbon, M10 Rye and Old Forester 150th Anniversary on the table. We found this M10 to be the perfect opening to a night of fantastic pours.
Over the next 12 months, I’ve inadvertently found a way to taste some of the best Old Forest has to offer. But why am I talking about Old Forester in a Michter’s article?
Because this distillate was almost assuredly sourced or contract distilled from Old Forester’s Early Times Distillery during the contractual relationship that Michter’s and Brown Forman shared from 2004 to 2015.
I had a chance to taste Birthday Bourbons from 2012, 2019 and 2020 along with all three batches of 150th Anniversary as well as two batches of President’s Choice, not to mention a half dozen of their new barrel strength single barrels. It’s a brand and a profile that is impressing me more and more.
So when I went to do my official tasting notes for this review, I had a 12 month gap between when I first opened and enjoyed the bottle until now when my tongue has much more experience with the profile of Old Forester. Would this make any sort of difference? Read on! I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: Rich wood scents start off the dram as layers of toffee, dried apricots, fennel seed, apples, orange peel and figs give a surprisingly fruit-forward start to this dram (not unlike most Birthday Bourbons). I also find notes of cigar ash, cacao nibs and musty books that give this nose so much old character. It’s fantastic.
Palate: Bitter oak mixes with oak spice and dry tobacco to show off the tannin-rich age that comes with aging this in a heat cycled warehouse for 12+ years. Notes of dried orange peel and Angostura bitters give complexity and contrast nicely to the slightly burnt toffee notes that offer a small amount of sweetness within.
Finish: Classic notes of dry oak, dry leather and furniture polish wrap tightly around your tongue long after the finish is complete. Not too much sweetness, but honestly it doesn’t finish as bitter as you’d think. It’s very well matured.
After I had sat down with this bottle over the course of a couple days it dawned on me that what I was experiencing in the present was not what I had experienced in the past. No, I’m not talking about the effects of oxidation, I’m talking more about how the recognizable flavor of Old Forester produced distillate was becoming more normal to me.
In the past, it was much more exotic because I had so little experience with it but the novelty has since worn off. Had I scored this bottle a year ago, I’m assuming I would’ve given it a much higher score.
Although I could definitely tell you I enjoyed this, the low proof point still holds it back (a common complaint among those that have experienced M10 products).
Michter’s has never led on to why they keep the proof so low, but it probably has to do with ensuring that you don’t sip a mouth full of oak that would surely come from all of that accelerated aging in their heat-cycled warehouses. And so it is that Michter’s hands may be tied for just how high in proof they can release these, which is a shame.
Will you like M10? That depends. Among Michter’s enthusiasts, they’re pretty split over just how good the barrels have been in the last 9 years (since they’ve all moved to Brown Forman barrels).
Most would agree it’s still very overpriced at $150 which is the price for virtually every Brown Forman produced special release. The secondary, who ignored these for years, does seem to be steadily increasing their valuation of these, but few are buying them.
In the end, these still represent some great well-aged bourbon that you simply don’t see coming out of Brown Forman that often (with the exceptions being King of Kentucky, Birthday Bourbon and President’s Choice). But with company like that, maybe the price is justified after all?
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.