US1 Unblended American Whiskey
Michter’s – 83.4 proof/41.7 ABV
There are times when my skepticism gets the best of me, and I wonder if a bourbon company known for providing a quality product should really branch out to try a single barrel, or a rye, or an egg nog. I was once a strict adherent to the creed that a brand that was known for providing one product of high quality should stick with that product and not, in the words of a workingman’s football coach, “get too fancy.” I’ve tasted enough false starts in the bourbon world to reinforce my righteousness (you can find examples in the B&B archives), but more than one has made me question it.
Michter’s is one of the latter. Their US1 line consists of Bourbon, Rye, a very popular Sour Mash, and an Unblended American Whiskey, the spirit featured herein. The bourbon and rye both received high marks here at B&B, and for those who can find them on the shelf, Michter’s also offers these two spirits in a variety of ages ranging from 10 to 20 to 25 years.
My preconceived positive notions in no way hindered me from questioning some of the cleverly crafted language surrounding the Unblended American Whiskey. Now, I understand that it’s not a bourbon because it’s not aged in new charred oak barrels, but in what the brand calls “bourbon-soaked barrels,” meaning previously used. It’s somewhat unclear as to whether these were used by Michter’s or someone else, but what seems clear is the barrels have a little less to offer the whiskey as it ages. A second point of linguistic contention is the “unblended” label, which Michter’s offers because the American Whiskey is never thinned with neutral grain spirits. That is excellent, but It does not meant that each bottle isn’t a “blend” of different whiskies of various ages and experiences. To be fair, these aren’t incorrect definitions, but excellent marketing.
But perhaps I digress. A man too consumed with truth will soon find his glass half-empty—or completely so—and this is no way to enjoy life, or whiskey, and as we know, both should be responsibly enjoyed.
It’s unusual for a whiskey’s reputation to be made on the nose, but I’ve read so many remarks on the aroma of US1 American Whiskey that I think Michter’s might consider partnering with Bath & Body Works for a candle and body lotion line. It really is pleasant, sweet and fruity like a bakery using almond extract, turbinado, and pears. The palate is excellent—thick and luscious, buttery, candied. This is delicious. Yet somehow the finish doesn’t quite bring it together, and I don’t know if it’s due to the used barrels or not. It’s a bit raw, heavy on corn and light on age. The barrels sugars are so apparent earlier in the drink; I’m not sure where they go in the finish, but I miss them.
Value: Medium-High—Michter’s is working against itself here. US1 Unblended American Whiskey is excellent, but at most stores the entire line is the same price, and I’d personally choose the Rye or Bourbon in the same $40 price point.
Drinkability: Other than the finish, High. A low proof, very full offering that I highly recommend.
Special thanks to Lillie O’Connell at Michter’s for graciously providing a review sample.