A few years ago
I could walk into
All photos authors own.
A few years ago
I could walk into
All photos authors own.
Bacardí Ocho is one of those rums whiskey drinkers can easily appreciate.
A dark sweetness of butterscotch & toffee on the nose.
Soft & smooth palate replete with heavy fruits & a touch of nuttiness.
Growing woody spiciness from 8 years in oak barrels add some flair to the long finish.
An easy going sipper of a rum found widely in stores around Ireland.
There’s some whiskey launches I didn’t get round to writing up – Michter’s being one of them.
It’s nothing to do with the quality of the product – nor the hospitality shown on the day – which were both outstanding I must say – other things & life just got in the way.
So in February 2019 a packed crowd of whiskey fans gathered in a Dublin venue to sample the delights of Michter’s Whiskey. Oh those heady days of pre-COVID freedom!
I was already convinced of the marvels of Michter’s having sampled the core range at Whisky Birmingham.
A brief history of Michter’s served as an introduction.
Originally founded in 1753 & incorporating the Shenk’s & Bomberger’s families too, Michter’s – along with many others – collapsed during the lean years of the 70’s & 80’s.
A couple of entrepreneurs bought the brand names in the 90’s, selected choice casks from distilleries & proceeded to build up a reputation for fine bourbon & rye. This was Phase 1.
Phase 2 started in the early 2000’s. With dwindling stocks of barrels & increased sales a more steady supply was needed. Contract distilling in Kentucky began with specific mashbills, filling percentages, maturation policy & filtration standards all being controlled by Michter’s exacting standards.
Phase 3 is Michter’s producing their own whiskey in their own distilleries. That is currently in play right now – so for the moment – the whiskeys presented to us at the event were from Phase 2.
Michter’s Straight Rye, 42.4%
Distinctive rye nose, candy sweet & spicy dry. Smooth & easy palate. Decent complexity with long dry peppery spice on the finish.
A solid rye to start the proceedings.
Michter’s Straight Bourbon, 45.7%
Sweet & surprisingly spicy nose. The rye content isn’t too high – the exact ratios weren’t revealed – & it was suggested the spice emanates from the char 3 level virgin oak casks used. Whatever the method – it resulted in a warmth of flavour rounded up by a long peppery spice finish.
Michter’s Sour Mash, 43%
Being neither 51% corn or rye – Sour Mash has a mixed mashbill offering an intriguing sweet & sour nose. Lovely mouthfeel with soft spices & quite a dry finish.
Michter’s American Whiskey, 41%
Using 2nd fill barrels for maturation & a corn, rye & barley mashbill – American Whiskey cannot be called Bourbon or Rye. Lighter on the palate than the others, there was still a richness of flavour & slight spice which reeled me in.
The above 4 made up the core range – & very engaging they were too! In a divergence from my love of rye – I have to say the combination of rich warm flavours along with a peppery dry spiciness of Straight Bourbon won me over in this group.
But there’s more!
Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Straight Bourbon, 45.7%
Part of a limited release range, Toasted Barrel benefits from extra ageing in – no surprises – toasted barrels which impart a slight smokiness to the bourbon. Not a peatiness nor BBQ style however – more a gentle wood fire vibe going on.
Then a couple of age statement whiskeys – rare enough for America!
10 Year Old Straight Rye, 47.2%
Great classic rye nose – boosted with more depth & warmth – which flowed through into the palate. Smoother, richer & more complex than before.
A gorgeous rye.
10 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 47.2%
Again this bourbon impressed! A winning combination that just dialled up the overall experience a big notch.
Yet the goodies kept on coming!
I was particularly looking forward to the next pair from the Legacy Series.
Shenk’s Homestead, 2018, 45.6%
Finished in French Oak Barrels – there was more of a rounded dark fruity sweetness on this one. Very chewy – although the finish fell away a bit quickly.
Bomberger’s Declaration, 2018, 54%
Finished in Chinquapin Oak – a gorgeous dry tannic spice gave wonderful richness & depth to this bottle which immediately propelled it to my top spot!
Such a fabulous showcasing of the Michter’s range & generous hospitality of the brand!
There was much milling around & happy chatting afterwards & I managed a cheeky sampling of the 20 Year Old Straight Bourbon, 57.1%
Despite being such a rare opportunity – I must admit to finding the dryness & high strength combo being too much for me & obliterating the welcome warmth & engaging flavours of it’s younger stablemates.
So what did I take away from it all?
Well I really enjoyed Michter’s!
Their attention to detail certainly comes through in the fabulous flavours of the range.
For my part, age, high ABV & rye aren’t automatic winners. A combination of elements & ingredients along with careful maturation in varied cask regimes can bring about stunning whiskey.
I wish Michter’s future success with their own distilleries!
There’s an attractive quality to miniatures.
The opportunity to try out unknown treasures – or non runners – before buying a full bottle.
The ease of transport – particularly when flying!
And the chance to taste a wide variety of styles without breaking the bank.
This Jim Beam was part of a job lot auction acquisition.
A simple yet bold label design pleased me.
Signature sweet bourbony notes with a touch of oakiness on the nose.
The charred casks coupled with added ageing had boosted the depth of the palate with more warmth & richness.
At 43% it packed a spirity punch – which I found attractive.
Miniatures are fleeting memories.
Especially when you find out the 8 Year Old was dropped in favour of an NAS – non age statement – I encountered here.
I used to fly.
Probably won’t be doing it for a while now.
One enjoyable pastime at the airport was sampling whiskey.
JFK had a pair of Beams not previously encountered.
The Black Extra Aged sported an attractive enough bottle.
‘Black’ is often used in whiskey circles to denote a more refined, aged or even mysterious elixir.
I was happy to explore.
It came across quite soft & sweet – but with an appreciatively appealing bite too.
The Signature Craft 12 Year Old displayed a more rounded & smoother feel – lacking the youthful exuberance of it’s stablemate.
Black won out.
You have to hand it to Aldi and their whiskey.
Last Year’s Xmas Special Irish Reserve 26 Year Old set the internet alight with whiskey fans scouring both Ireland and the UK to find a bottle of the gorgeous liquid.
They’ve followed this up with another Irish Reserve bottling – albeit a much more down to earth 4 year old at only €19.
It may not have the kudos of the 26 – but I had to give it a go.
The bottle comes in an attractive green colour topped with a red screw cap. The label is very similar to the 26 year old.
There is very little information given. It’s an Irish whiskey and it’s 4 years old. That’s all it really needs to say. If you want more information – expect to pay more.
What it doesn’t say is probably more revealing.
It doesn’t say it’s a blend, nor non chill filtered nor if added caramel is used – so presume it’s all three of these. At only €19 – what else are you looking for?
The nose is suitably mellow. A hint of sweet corn initially – that grainy clarity – before those familiar vanilla & caramel notes from ex-bourbon cask maturation kick in.
The taste is grand. Smooth, sweet, no real bite at only 40%, yet a pleasant mouthfeel & soft notes from the 4 years in wooden barrels.
The finish didn’t last too long – but left a lovely warmth on the palate.
There’s no complexity or depth here.
It is what it is.
An easy drinking straight forward honest to goodness 4 year old bourbon cask matured Irish whiskey.
I’d happily drink this bottle as an everyday sipper – unlike some other single malts from similar shelves.
Good on Aldi and the team behind this whiskey.
It sets the benchmark for what a no frills Irish whiskey should be.
It provides a standard to compare other – usually higher priced – bottles against. To check whether if you know the distillery of origin or not, whether it’s chill filtered or not & whether added caramel is used or not you can taste the difference.
For the money I enjoyed it a lot.
It even made me smile.
Isn’t that what drinking whiskey is all about?
World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.
As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.
Today is P for Pakistani Whisky.
Established in 1860 to mainly cater for the British troops stationed in the area, Murree Brewery also expanded into distilling.
It is now the longest standing business in Pakistan which you can read about here. Despite being mainly a Muslim country that prohibits alcohol consumption Murree are allowed to sell to non-Muslims and foreigners.
An interesting article here highlights some of the issues.
They have a range of beers as well as selected whiskies, gins & vodka.
I can’t vouch for availability outside of Pakistan.
But a decent age statement at 43% is worthy of a try.
Man walks in to a bar.
He’s missed his train & is looking for a spot to while away the hour – preferably with a whiskey.
Nancy Hands on Dublin’s Parkgate St is only a short walk from Hueston Railway Station and his train home. The pub has a large & welcoming facade. He walks in.
The front bar has the usual array of whiskeys on display – nothing that attracts his eyes – but there seems to be a back bar. He hasn’t been here before & only chose it at random. He investigates.
He’s hit the jackpot!
Loads of Scotch. Many old looking bottles with gently faded fawn labels – no fancy colours here – and loads of Irish too with a slightly more colourful collection.
But what to sample?
As I was that man I decided to continue my exploration of peat.
A Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old caught my eye. Having previously enjoyed the Darach Ur NAS (Non Age Statement) Travel Retail release I thought it would be a good comparison.
The satisfying rich peat on the nose from this Islay distillery single malt reassured me of what was to follow. I found the taste a tad harsh & rather monosyllabic however. Just the one note of pure peat – and a bit too burnt at that. The NAS release wins out on this challenge.
Only when I Googled the bottle did it become apparent that this was an old release prior to a redesign of the label. Maybe some of the subtleties of the whisky had been lost due to the length of time the bottle had been opened? It’s recommended 2 to 3 years is the maximum before the spirit begins to degrade due to oxidation & other chemical reactions that occur & can then spoil the taste. Perhaps this was happening here?
I moved on to the Irish section.
Slieve na cGloc stood out for me.
It’s a peated single malt made at Cooley Distillery from when John Teeling was still at the helm. I’ve read it was an own-label-bottling for the Oddbins off-licence chain in the UK – but I cannot confirm this.
Again that lovely pungent peat on the nose warmly greeted me. The taste this time was smoother – yet the peat punch was still reassuringly intense. A more balanced feel to the malt sang a delightful harmony & had me wondering why there wasn’t more lovely peated Irish expressions.
Slieve na cGloc – named after the mountain below which the Cooley Distillery sits – is an excellent whiskey & much more appropriately named than it’s equally appealing peated stablemate Connemara whiskey that is also made at Cooley.
There is a lovely walk up the hill here – which I did on a crisp winter’s day when last on the wonderful Carlingford Peninsula.
But that was then and this was now.
I could have stayed for more – but the night train was calling.
And being the last one home I didn’t want to miss it.
Nancy Hands is a treasure trove of whiskey.
I know where I’ll be enjoying a bite to eat & a whiskey or two before catching my next train home from Dublin!
Credit to Nancy Hands for the top image.
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