Shenk’s Sour Mash Whiskey is a member of the Michter’s family of products that gets its name from the original name of the distillery and brand that started it all in Pennsylvania in the 1600’s. A short time later, the name was changed to Bomberger’s due to a merger. When another merger happened later on, the name was switched to Michter’s. Michter’s has recently decided to start releasing bottles under these two new(ish) labels as a way to celebrate their heritage and ensure that no other company would release them.
Shenk’s Sour Mash Whiskey
Shenk’s Sour Mash Whiskey is technically not a bourbon because either: A.) some of the distillate that is used in it was aged in used barrels (perhaps the French Oak barrels that it lists on the label were second-fill barrels) or that B.) the ratios of corn and rye are not enough to make the mashbill 51% corn, and therefore, not a bourbon. Regardless, we can assume that this distillate is still the same stuff that Michter’s uses in their own brand’s Sour Mash Whiskey except that it is bottled at a higher proof, 91.2.
Pricing for this bottle is all over the map. Some have said that they’ve found this bottle for $40. The distillery at Fort Nelson sells this bottle for $90 though. That’s a large difference, but is even the $90 price worth it? Let’s find out. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: This nose is a dead ringer for mincemeat pie. I’ve had it twice in my life, have forgotten I’ve had it, and then sniffing this whiskey brought me right back to it. The ingredients in a mincemeat pie are all there: cherries, apples, figs, brandy, brown sugar and orange zest. A soft, woody essence also lingers around that is unlike most woods I normally detect. This must be the French Oak. The nose is absolutely the most well integrated nose I’ve had the pleasure of smelling in a long while.
Palate: Sweet, golden raisins, crystalized ginger and the most interesting oak flavor I have had in a whiskey. It’s not strong and tannic like MGP, but it’s soft and has a fragrant quality about it that’s hard to describe. This could also be some of the French Oak influence I’m tasting. The mouthfeel is also decently oily as well.
Finish: The finish ends on a very well layered and rich blend of apricots, melted salted sweet cream butter, a dash of ground chipotle pepper and lemon rind. It is sweet, creamy citrusy and a touch spicy all at the same time.
This is an amazing 90 proof whiskey. I’ve had many pours of this and can’t get over how well nuanced it is for being a touch over 90 proof. It may not be a bourbon, but the color is dark enough to see that not too much second-use barrel distillate was used (if it was at all). The flavors are deep and rich and above all, unique to almost everything else out there.
I would highly recommend to find this bottle for your collection to show fellow drinkers that it doesn’t have to be a straight bourbon to be this good. The only thing that could possibly improve this would be a barrel proof version, which knowing Michter’s, could be a project that will see light in the coming years with all of their label expansion.
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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