In 2015, Michter’s launched their Toasted Barrel Finish Straight Bourbon Whiskey. At the time, the reviews ranged from ho-hum to slightly above average. But the bourbon nerds picked up on its uniqueness and quickly grabbed it all up. As the lore behind these bottles continued to build, and with no other product on the market being finished quite like it was, there was a void in the market that would not be filled for another two years. Then in 2017, Michter’s released their first bottling of a Toasted Barrel Finish Straight Rye Whiskey.
This time, Michter’s bottled it in single barrel form and at cask strength, which varied from barrel to barrel. An age statement isn’t given, but like most of Michter’s products that don’t carry an age statement, it’s believed to be only around 5 or 6 years old (but tastes older because they use heated warehouses). Sadly it, like every Michter’s product, is still chill filtered prior to bottling.
Toasted Barrel Rye Whiskey
Since 2017, their Toasted Barrel Rye Whiskey has been widely regarded as the best toasted barrel finished whiskey that they put out (even including the TB Sour Mash that was released in 2019). This probably has something to do with the fact that it is the only one of the 3 whiskies that has been bottled at cask strength. So what makes this so special? Let’s find out. I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: The nose carries over an intoxicating scent of seasoned oak that is as strong as a 10+ year aged bourbon. The powerful sweetness in the nose is easy to pick up on with pleasant scents of English toffee, light brown sugar, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. The rye isn’t as powerful in this whiskey as it is in a regular Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye, but it is very similar to the high-rye MGP bourbons that I’ve tasted. It’s a fantastically deep, alluring nose.
Palate: The rye spices dial it up a notch on the palate as cinnamon sticks, mint and a little pine show through. There’s also some black pepper heat throughout that is still very restrained. Sweetness comes in the form of Werther’s Original caramel candies, but the best and most notable sweetness comes from the sweet oak spice that is remarkably deep.
Finish: An initial wave of peppery cherry jam leaves sweetness and spice in its wake. There’s a nice cooling menthol sensation and the seasoned oak and toasted honey nut cheerios add depth. There’s some slight rye spice characteristics that keeps reminding you that it’s a rye whiskey after all. This is powerful and rich at the same time.
Toasted Barrel Rye Whiskey may be one of my most favorite Michter’s products available (outside of the super rare and premium releases that cost thousands of dollars). The flavor intensity and how well everything works is so well integrated that if I had to pick one whiskey to drink for the rest of my life, this would probably be at the top of my list because it fills the roles of both a bourbon and a rye whiskey so well.
Most Michter’s fans will be drawn more to the Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey to scratch their rye itch and the rest will choose their 10 year or barrel strength bourbon when they want complexity and sweetness. But this rye has it both. It’s still extremely difficult to find, but they continue to release this every year in very small quantities, so it is somewhere out there! Now you just have to find your own.
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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