Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash Whiskey was kind of a surprise for 2019. The Toasted Barrel Bourbon and Rye made a lot of sense after their releases with very unique profiles creating a very sought-after taste profile.
My first reaction was surprise, then immediately “what’s next?” because if they’re going to go through, toasting their entire lineup, then when is the American Unblended Whiskey coming? And the 10 year whiskies? What next?
But then I saw that they left their proof exactly the same as their Sour Mash release at a low 86 proof. I have no doubts that their Sour Mash whiskey is the same recipe, etc that is bottled up at a slightly higher proof for Shenk’s Homestead Sour Mash Whiskey, but why couldn’t they have gone barrel proof and charged an arm and a leg? This will continue to baffle me until I get an answer.
Shortly after their release, I was seeing the secondary market flooded with bottles of this that had just been opened and maybe an ounce or two were missing.
The sellers were trying to recoup their money on it as much as they could and would post captions like “not my jam” on their sales, which instantly alerts the buyer that this bottle is probably not good. Then the reviews started to pop up online detailing the product as flat and lacking in flavor.
Regardless, I had still tried basically the entire Michter’s lineup, so I tried my best to not get swindled on a bottle so that I could keep my trend going. Eventually I did and now I’m here, ready to taste it for you to find out if this is a stud or a dud. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: Light nose, but it begins to build the more you sip. Banana fosters all day (brown sugar, caramelized banana), Nilla wafer pudding, slightly toasted wood, raisin bread pudding with a cinnamon dusting, warm croissants with butter.
Palate: Marshmallow fluff (I get this almost every time with a toasted barrel finish, it’s my favorite part), some faint pepper flakes, cinnamon spiced honey. The mouthfeel is creamier than I thought it’d be given its proof.
Finish: Interestingly, a bit of rye character after the sip is complete. There’s a nice amount of cinnamon and mint with more caramelized banana notes becoming apparent. It’s shorter than I want it to be (probably lasting about 60 seconds before there’s an absence of flavor again in your mouth), but that’s the 86 proof’s fault more than anything I suspect.
First thing that comes to mind? Completely inoffensive. After an initial prickle of heat, it disappears completely and leaves you with a satisfying, mellow drink that has lots of sweetness and for some reason, really highlights the banana notes.
Banana initially seemed odd to me, but then I realized that it’s not really because Michter’s and Brown Forman are still pretty closely connected at the hip.
I whole-heartedly believe that Michter’s has “sourced” the yeast that BF used for them when Brown Forman was contract distilling for Michter’s, which would explain why I find that traditional BF “banana” note in this whiskey.
Regardless, I did actually enjoy this one which surprises me because I’m just not into sub-90 proof whiskies anymore. Also, I’m practically clawing at the wall to try a barrel proof version (or even non-chill filtered, which will never happen) of this.
I just can’t see what would be holding Michter’s back from making that, especially because this sour mash whiskey (it’s not a bourbon!) does not appear to have any direct competitors in the Michter’s (or BF) portfolio.
Is it worth what the secondary is calling for on this (about $140)? No. But I’ve had a couple friends get this at retail ($60) and for that price, I could see myself buying this again if I could ever find it.
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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