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Michter’s 10 Year Old Single Barrel Rye Whiskey (2023) Review

Michter’s 10 Year Old Single Barrel Rye Whiskey (2023) Review

The longer I’ve been in the American Whiskey game, the more I’ve come to appreciate Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon and Rye Whiskey. And while I understand that both of them have proofs that are lower than what many enthusiasts want, there are far more reasons to love them.

Today I’ll be focusing solely on the rye whiskey version. Let me start out by preemptively answering a question that is on many of your minds: Yes, the 2023 M10 Rye is still a sourced whiskey. And to preemptively answer your follow-up question: Yes, it was distilled at Brown-Forman Distillery.

But it wasn’t always this way. Ever since Joe Magliocco resurrected the Michter’s brand in the late 90’s, the rye whiskey inside of the bottles has changed a handful of times. And I predict that it will change again in 2027 (but more on that later).

Michter’s 10 Year Rye Whiskey through the years

Allow me to run through a quick snapshot of how the rye whiskey inside of each year’s Michter’s 10 Year Rye has changed throughout the years. If you’re not interested or already know these facts, skip down to the tasting notes!


From 1997-1999, Joe Magliocco, Dick Newman and Steve Zeigler scoured the state of Kentucky looking for the best bourbon that they could find. As luck would have it, United Distillers was bleeding off brands, distilleries and stocks of aged whiskey as they merged with Grand Metropolitan to become the spirits juggernaut we know today as Diageo.

During this time, Joe and his associates acquired vast stocks of 16-19 year old bourbon. They eventually found a bottler who would process these barrels into cases for distribution: Julian Van Winkle III. Julian was working out of Hoffman/Old Commonwealth Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. He chimed in on the internet forum where he acknowledged bottling Michter’s early barrels, but that he didn’t sell them any of his barrels (which we are to assume meant Stitzel Weller and Medley Rye). I have found evidence that Julian did bottle at least seven “batches” of rye whiskey (apparently, it was not a single barrel) for Michter’s during his short contracting stint for him, but not much more.

Michter’s relationship with Julian was short-lived because in mid-2002, he accepted a deal to join Buffalo Trace and move his operations to their facility. He introduced Michter’s to Even Kulsveen at KBD (Willett) to continue bottling (and acquiring) more whiskey for them.

Even’s old rye whiskey stocks were primarily from Old Bernheim Distillery (DSP-KY-1). This type of rye was commonly referred to as “Cream of Kentucky Rye Whiskey,” even though Cream of Kentucky never bottled a rye whiskey under that name. But my records indicate that Michter’s 10 Year Rye Whiskey first popped up in 2003, which would put it firmly in the timeline that KBD was bottling/sourcing for Michter’s.

So it is my opinion, and the opinion of many other bloggers and posters on that early Michter’s rye whiskey was from the same stocks of Cream of Kentucky rye whiskey that the amazing bottles of wax-top Willett Family Estate, Red Hook Rye and others were from.

It should also be noted that KBD continued bottle Michter’s 10 year old bourbon and rye whiskey up until 2011/2012. They more than likely continued to sell them barrels from their aged stocks up until that time, too. If you want to track them down (aside from using the date code on the necktag), the back label on these bottles will say “Bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky.”


Michter’s didn’t release any M10 Rye Whiskey in 2012 or 2013. My opinion on why is because of two important events that took place in 2011. The first one was KBD ending their business with the brand because they were starting up their own distillery. The second one was Brown-Forman telling Michter’s that they were ending their contract distillation agreement to concentrate on increasing their own production.

So from 2011 to 2015, Michter’s was in a period of transition as they began to move operations (to include their bottling line) to their newly-acquired Shively plant. They wouldn’t begin to distill their own products until late 2015, but they had enough warehouse space to store their sourced/contract-distilled barrels and to operate a bottling line.

Michter’s managed to put out a 10 Year Rye Whiskey in 2014, but enthusiasts at the time noticed an immediate departure from the taste profile from the previous M10R bottlings. Reviews were widely panned among enthusiasts with many noting a drop in quality. It is also rumored that Willy Pratt had a hell of a time filtering the woody rye whiskey barrels they had acquired into something drinkable.

I don’t know who the source of the 2014 barrels was, but I don’t think they were Old Bernheim, Medley or Ancient Age (Sazerac 18). Perhaps they were excess barrels of rye whiskey that Brown-Forman had distilled for Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse brand. As it turned out, the folks at Michter’s must have sensed it was not well-received by consumers, so they put M10 Rye back on hiatus for 2015.

2016 – Present Day

To preface this section, I was on a Zoom call with Joe Magliocco one day in 2020 when he let a tasty tidbit slip: no barrel of Michter’s 10 Year (bourbon or rye) has ever been released under 11.5 years old. Within this new context, it would explain why many reviewers noticed a change in profile to Michter’s 10 Year Rye when it came back out in 2016 after a one-year hiatus.

Michter’s had signed a deal with Brown-Forman in 2004 to have them contract distill bourbon and rye whiskey to their specifications. It is rumored that the bourbon uses a mash bill similar to the Early Times mash bill (79/11/10) while the rye whiskey uses a mash bill similar to Woodford Reserve’s rye (53/33/14). The main difference between them was that Michter’s wanted a barrel entry proof of 103 instead of BF’s typical entry proof of 125.

One last thing to think about: Brown-Forman stopped contract-distilling for Michter’s around 2011 or 2012. So if you do the math, that means that the 2023 versions of Michter’s 10 Year Rye Whiskey is – at minimum – 11 years old and likely older than 12. And if Micther’s Shively Distillery came online and filled its first barrel in August, 2015, that means that their own distillate won’t be ready until 2025. But if we take Joe’s word on the fact that M10 bottles never have “just 10 year old whiskey” in them, then that could mean that we won’t be tasting Michter’s own distillate in a 10 year product until 2027. And by that time, if Michters still releases M10 bourbon and rye every year, the 2026 bottlings would be a minimum of 14 years old.

The 2023 Release of M10 Rye Whiskey

Every year since 2019, whenever I walk into Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery (hoping it’s my lucky day), I will inevitably run into Vicky Fugitte who will excitedly ask me if I’ve had a chance to try that year’s Michter’s 10 Rye. Whatever my answer is, she’ll always remark how it’s even better than the previous years. And you know what? The enthusiast community seems to agree with her.

For years, it’s been one of the oldest age-stated Kentucky rye whiskies you actually have a chance to find on the shelves (after Kentucky Owl thrown in the towel). The 2023 release was given even more hype after the recent review by Breaking Bourbon where they awarded it a perfect 5 out of 5 “barrels” rating. For a publication like that, it was a huge deal. Overnight, friends of mine in Chicago, New Jersey, New York and California said that their local stores who had a bottle still on the shelves had sold out.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to buy my bottle you see today at a local Christmas event at Payless Liquors in Indianapolis. But after a month of staring at it, I decided to finally open it. What do I think of it? Let’s find out. This is barrel number 23H2888 (Barrel #2888 bottled in September, 2023) and I sampled this neat in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes

Nose: It’s odd to start a rye whiskey’s notes for the nose with so many fruit scents, but it’s what this one has in droves. Black cherry, grilled pineapple, citrus (lemon) and Concord grape juice are most of what I picked out, but I’m sure I’m missing some. Spices are mild – never sharp or biting – and include crushed fennel seed and cinnamon. There are many herbal notes – a surprise for a Kentucky rye whiskey and they’re all touched with a hint of honey. Tannins are also mild but include a nice pop of oak.

Palate: Spices drive the flavors on the palate with more fennel seed, cinnamon, anise and peppercorns. The herbal qualities have also increased on the tongue with mint sticking out the most. The wild fruit notes on the nose pare down to mainly cherry and orange citrus. Toasted caramel brings the sweetness while bitter oak and oak spice add age to each sip.

Finish: Tannins begin to assert themselves on the finish with oak and leather becoming the most noticeable. Honey provides residual sweetness while oregano and mint add a lingering herbal essence. Spices come by way of cinnamon, anise and nutmeg and a new flavor emerges after I open my mouth to draw in a breath: flat ginger ale. Nice!

Score: 8.4/10

The thing Michter’s does so well with their rye whiskey is how they get it to embody all of the regional traits of rye whiskies in one product. There is a nice sweetness you would find in most Kentucky ryes, a spice you would find in Indiana ryes and herbal notes that you’d find in Canadian ryes.

Yes, the proof is fairly low for most enthusiasts, but it makes up for it by being complex with layers of flavor. Taking more time to study this rye whiskey is key to appreciating it. This is the same advice I’d give to anyone partaking in a 10+ year-old low-proofed whiskey.

Final Thoughts

With each passing year, Michter’s 10 Year Rye Whiskey gets a little bit better than the last. Of course, with all of Michter’s rye whiskies being a single barrel product, your experience may not match mine. That’s the gamble we all take on any whiskey bottled that way.

In 2023, Michter’s 10 Rye started to feel the heat of competition encroaching on its territory. Ever since Kentucky Owl rye stopped being a thing, there’s been very few Kentucky rye whiskies released over 10 years old. But last year saw the tide turning. Beam made a push with their Old Overholt 10 Year Cask Strength and this year will see a 10 year version of Knob Creek. Heaven Hill also looks like they’re going to start pushing the envelope after the success of their 10 year Parker’s Rye. That’s not even mentioning up-and-comers like New Riff, Bardstown Bourbon Company and Green River either. But Michter’s 10 Year feels like its on a different level than all of those for now. Only the future knows just for how long that will last. But if I were you, I’d track down your own bottle now.

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