Michter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Rye

Thanks to /u/blaw82  for the sample.

In the past few years, given multiple reasons, I haven’t had many bourbons. Probably due to the increased cost, but also I’ve realised I’m more of a Scotch fan. That said, my father is still a bourbon fan, and his bourbon friends are not within his area code, and as such I save what few samples I do have to share with him.

Last time I showed up with a blind California whiskey that had nothing to do with Bourbon. One of my friends asked how long I’ve hated my father (thanks /u/xile_ ). So this time I decided to make up for it. It was, in fact, for Father’s day. My plans included taking him out to his favourite new chippie and helping him around the house. Then I grabbed a proper sample to share, in this case Michter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Rye.

That’s right, no odd method of making it, no outside the box thinking, just a standard American Rye, at barrel strength, from an established company. This whiskey has been made since 2015, which is young for the Old World and Old for the New World.

The distillate enters at 103 proof, has different proof per year, and has some different flavours per year. As I’ve said before, rye differs from corn when you use it as the base.

Corn is the project manager on the team: They make plans, they take a long time, and those plans can give good, predictable fruit. No one finds them attractive.

Rye is the insane marketer who always talks about “thinking outside the box”, never shows up to meetings on time, gets paid more, and ultimately may end up causing issues. You date them for five months, you love the sex, and you end up losing $2,000 on a crypto scheme and have a stain on your couch that never leaves. The whiskey may be ready in four years or may need fourteen.

So let’s see what Michter’s did with their crazy, shall we?

Price: $180

Region: Kentucky

Bottled: 2019

Cask number: 19C393

Abv: 55.4%

Colour: 10YR 5/8

Nose: Violets, oak, cinnamon, buttercream icing, carrot cake

Floral this time, that’s what was outside the box. Okay, I’ll stop beating that joke to death. But this starts out floral, and then goes to sweet, buttery, creamy, and spicey.

So I guess avoid it if you’re not like me and love to drink flowers. I think I was a butterfly in another life, which explains my pyro tendencies.

Taste: Mineral, cinnamon, soap, straw, caramel

Bit bitter at first, then goes to spice. Given some time/water, you get more of the floral, but it’s closer to a fake/soap note rather than a distinct floral element. Don’t know what I’m saying? Go find some soap and bite it.

There’s a bit of farm/cereal that comes out, as well as the sweetness from before, but it’s more on the side and helps with the whole package, rather than dominating. Think when you eat something outside of North America and sugar isn’t in the first three ingredients.

Finish: Oak, cinnamon hearts, black pepper, lemon pudding, melon

Closer to those cinnamon hearts you got as a kid that you either loved or handed to me. And let me tell you, as the kid in class who was popular for that reason alone on Valentine’s Day, I was in a cinnamon challenge heaven.

Grows from that, thankfully. Creaminess, some acidity, and a strong oak that lasts. Good long finish too.

Conclusion: Lots of cinnamon and quite sweet. Decent complexity and quite different from typical bourbon, but not enough that your father will wonder if his son remembered what he enjoyed drinking. It plays up the rye spice and floral aspects. If you’re looking for oranges, you’re going to get lemons. Which I think means you have to do extra work to make your life better, if I understand the idiom correctly.

Joking aside, I’d try more of the Barrel Strength Rye releases for this reason. This was a very solid, tasty whiskey that was good from start to finish. It’s not as insanely complex as other limited releases, but these days you may be able to find this easier than those releases, so if you can, try this.


Bourbon review #286, Kentucky review #181, Whiskey Network review #2282

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