For years now, I’ve ignored Michter’s 10 Year Old Rye Whiskey. The price has usually been the main factor as I couldn’t find these bottles for anything less than $170. I know that in some states, you could find them for as low as $130 but that’s definitely not the norm. The age statement was certainly an enticing factor to buy it, but the low proof of only 92.8 made me envision a drink that was going to be thin and watery. In addition, it’s also chill-filtered which I never am a fan of, but since every Michter’s product is chill-filtered, I’d just have to deal with it.
For those that are unaware, Michter’s originally began their rise from the ashes by sourcing all of their whiskey from what was later revealed to be Old Forester/Brown Forman. From there, they developed a phased approach that would see them making their own whiskey themselves in the following years. The M10 you see in this picture is from the timeframe where Michter’s was using Brown Forman’s equipment to distill and barrel their own whiskey while aging it in BF’s heated warehouses.
As of August 2015, distilling operations officially began to churn out their own products at their Shively plant (which is within eyesight of Brown Forman’s Early Times Distillery). So for the next 5 years or so, we can probably still expect that all M10 products will be from a time when Michter’s own “cooks” were using Brown Forman’s “kitchen” to make their whiskey.
In 2020, I had so many friends that kept singing praises of this year’s M10 Rye that I just had to get a bottle for myself. After finding one, I took it home to struggle with the wax and see what the big deal was. I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: Great caramel notes with plenty of oak spice. A hint of banana runts candy followed by vanilla cake and bubblegum. There is a faint amount of floral notes (lilies and roses) as well, which is about the only hint that this is a rye whiskey you’re smelling instead of a bourbon. A bit of peppery spice also tickles your nosehairs and lets you know this has some spiciness to it. Overall this nose is so powerful and deep and had me questioning the actual proof of this bottle with every inhale.
Palate: Bold and flavorful notes of black cherries, candied lemon and orange peels and strangely enough; Kiwi. The spices are pleasant and are a combination of cinnamon oil and red pepper flakes. The palate is also sweet like a bourbon with Honeycomb Cereal and Werther’s hard candies. Meanwhile tannic notes that give away its age like barrel char and rich tobacco add tremendous depth. The bubblegum scent from the nose transfers over to the palate and makes itself known and is the most fun taste you can get in a rye.
Finish: Sweet and spicy sums this one up. Honey cough drops, candy corn and lemon drop candies abound. There is also a noticeable amount of oak and leather that stick around in your cheeks and a subtle burn of spice all the way down your throat. This is an extremely pleasing end to a great dram.
Rich, deep and flavorful, this rye whiskey surprised the hell out of me. It drinks much higher than its proof would suggest which is both strange and welcomed. I seriously could not believe what a beautiful and enchanting bottle of whiskey this was. Sure, it drinks like a Kentucky Rye which is to say that it’s more bourbon-like than rye, but it’s among the top tiers of anything coming out of Kentucky with at least 51% rye in the mashbill.
In my own assessment of my palate, it’s rare for me to find tannic notes in most rye whiskies. That may be because they are normally not as aged as their bourbon counterparts. But this is one of the few where I could taste the age in the form of barrel char and tobacco and that made me really sit up and take notice.
This whiskey may not be affordable or available to many enthusiasts out there, but it is definitely one that should be sought after. The bottle and presentation are beautifully stylish while the whiskey inside is world class. This rye whiskey is one that should be sipped slowly, shared cautiously and have a space set aside for your top shelf.
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)
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