By Richard Thomas
The delay in the release of 2015’s Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon and the early release of this year’s installment created a serendipitous event. Being only five months apart, if you were a bourbon fan with $120 and were paying attention, odds were very, very good that you could snag a bottle from one consignment or the other.
That is important, because as Michter’s Master Distiller Willie Pratt said, “I love our 10 Year Bourbon and wish we could sell it year-round, but we just don’t have enough.”
Incidentally, this year’s Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon also contradicts the diehard, cynical internet croakers who still think Michter’s is in league with Church of Satan, and ignorantly dismissed the delays in releasing the previous 10 Year Old as a mere marketing stunt. One came out late, the next one little early, and so it is that Willie “Dr. No” Pratt sometimes surprises us with by saying “yes.”
My bottle of this year’s batch comes from barrel B233, and was bottled at the standard 94.2 proof (47.2% abv) following Michter’s particular style of filtration. The color is therefore a clear, coppery amber.
The nose is thick and sweet, a concoction of corn syrup heavily enriched with vanilla bean, plus pinches of cinnamon and clove. A trickle of wet tobacco leaf runs throughout the scent.
On the tongue, the liquid is a bit lighter than the nose might suggest, with a slick, almost slinky character. Caramel, orange cream, and now double pinches of cinnamon and clove lie at the core, fringed with traces of cedar. The finish starts off caramelized, then turns dry and runs long into some woody territory.
How does this particular 2016 barrel compare against the 2015 barrel I tried a few months ago? Both are the kind of moderately complex whiskeys that are approachable while sustaining a very interesting character. The 2015 bourbon was spicier and woodier, whereas this one is silkier and subtler. Close cousins to be sure, but not quite siblings.
Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon should retail for $120, but don’t be surprised (sadly) if you see it listed for more.