By Richard Thomas
The 10 year old, single barrel iteration of Michter’s rye whiskey remains my favorite whiskey in its class (and that class includes W.L. Weller 12 Year Old), one of my favorite ryes and one of my favorite expressions from Michter’s generally. The expression is released semi-annually, which is to say that is should be an annual limited edition, but it doesn’t necessarily come out every year. Moreover, while most annual limited edition releases are anticipated at the same time of year, a Michter’s 10 Year Old could drop at any point on the calendar. That all began with Willie Pratt, Michter’s first master distiller, whose propensity for holding off on releases until the prospective stock was just right earned him the nickname of “Dr. No.”
As has been the case throughout Michter’s history of first contract production and then in-house distillation, their rye has been of an undisclosed mash bill, but is known to be in the “Kentucky style.” That means there is just barely enough rye in the whiskey to count as rye (51% or scarcely higher). Alternately, one could refer to the Kentucky style as “high corn rye.” As always, this is bottled at 92.4 proof.
As is often the case, the coloring of this whiskey isn’t golden or amber, but coppered.
The nosing is dense with floral baking spices and vanilla drizzle, this tinged with an almost clay-like earthiness. Despite its dry and spicy aspects, the liquid has a buttery texture. The spicy side evolves over the sip from sweet and minty to herbal and peppery, but the vanilla holds true throughout and really gives balance to the whole journey. It’s at the conclusion that the spicy side takes full charge, running the finish mildly, but dryly away from the sweeter elements.
Two “as always” statements apply here. As a single barrel, individual lots will vary, and sometimes quite a bit. For example, this is only the second time I’ve described Michter’s 10YO Rye as having an earthy character. Also, this bottle is as lovely to nose as it is to sip on, as always.
Michter’s 10 Year Old Rye is officially priced at $200 a bottle. If you can actually secure one for that amount, it is well worth having.