Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey

Michter’s is a name steeped in whiskey lore. Go ahead and google it, or better yet, pick up and old whiskey book and check the index. You should find that it was once a Pennsylvania distillery, dating from the days when Monongahela whiskey meant something. The company hit hard times on more than one occasion, however, and finally went bankrupt in 1989.

Michter’s was resurrected in the 1990s and bottlings of the old whiskeys were popular rarities for the balance of the century, after which brokered whiskeys began being blended into signature products. Which brings us to the bottle in question, released late last year.

Monongahela whiskeys were generally rye whiskeys, but Kentucky, where the company is now based, is known more for bourbon, which brings rise to the question of what precisely this 86 proof spirit really is. And it’s a question for which I have no answer, unfortunately, since the company is being rather tight-lipped about the whiskey’s constituent parts. But perhaps that’s for the best, since it allows an unbiased approach to the glass.

On the nose, I certainly get more bourbony notes than rye, with plenty of vanilla and caramel and a fair hit of chocolate, besides, along with orange and perhaps canned peach notes. On the palate, it begins soft and filled with vanilla, almost like a candied essence, before blooming into a mix of stewed fruit and caramel and – now, there’s the rye! – peppery spice. The finish is just off-dry and tongue-tingling with a mix of brown spice and pepper.

The company suggests this as “an alternative to bourbon or rye,” and I’d have to agree with that sentiment, since it displays characteristics of both spirit families. I’m happy enough sipping it straight, but am anxious to soon try it in a Manhattan, as well, although I suspect with a pretty robust vermouth.


One Reply to “Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey”

  1. I visited Michter’s a couple of times in the mid-t0-late 80’s Very nice giftshop, where you could taste corks floating in fishbowls of their whiskey and take a self-guided tour through the wash back room and see their simple yeast handling hardware. The bonded warehouse and cask aging building had to be opened by a production staffer only.

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