Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey (10 Years Old)
Michter’s Distillery (Louisville) – 92.8 Proof

46.4% ABV / 92.8 Proof

This review has been three months in the making. Not because I’ve devolved into a Faulknerian writing process or because I’ve lost interest in sampling and writing about some of the best whiskeys in the world. (The day that happens, you’ll also see me in a Florida State shirt, ripped skinny jeans, and listening to Bieber. For those of you who don’t know me, I wouldn’t hold your breath…) No, it’s taken so long to churn out because time has been at a premium since September 8. That afternoon, my daughter was born. She’s absolutely beautiful and, to celebrate her healthy arrival, I opened a bottle of Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey graciously provided by Lillie O’Connell and the folks at Michter’s. To call this a good decision would be an understatement.

The nose on the Single Rye 10 is a perfect blend of mellow spice and pepper, buttery caramel, and a faint (cinnamon/apple strudel) sweetness—almost like a holiday candle. The texture is pure velvet; extremely rich but not syrupy. You’ll start with a low heat on the tip of the tongue. This will gradually build, but in a pleasant way. (It never gets very hot.) This is a mature whiskey at 10 years old, but not particularly woody. You’ll get just the right dose of spice (it is rye, after all, and it should taste like it) but this isn’t a pepperbox. Given the nose, I was expecting some of the other flavors, specifically the caramel, to make immediate appearances, but they just weren’t there for me, and I think it’s a better pour because of the absence. I also didn’t pick up on the traces of dried fruit that have been a hallmark of other Michter’s bottles reviewed on B&B. But if you’re reading this and thinking the Single Rye 10 sounds like an unremarkable pour, you’re jumping the gun. The real reward comes on the finish. That slow building heat translates into a very long but very gentle finish. Over the course of a solid dram, that sweetness does reappear and develops into a lingering aftertaste of warm cinnamon. That will stay with you for quite a while, almost like a very subtle numbing sensation. If this is what the good ole’ boys were drinking in their Chevys at the levy, they chose their final pours wisely.

Mark Twain and Billy the Kid conspiring for a drink from barrel 16A1B.

Value: High—Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This bottle is going to run you $120 to $150. Very rarely will I spend more than $60 on a bottle. And only once in a blue moon will I spend more than $75 (usually involving a raffle win or stumbling onto a dusty gem). But this one is too good not to say retail is fair and still tout it. If you can find it, buy it. Buy as much of it as you can—because in a few years, we’ll probably look back fondly on the days when this wasn’t a $200 bottle.

Drinkability: Highest—Hard to overstate the quality of this bottle from start to finish. Ryes frequently get a bad rap among the uninitiated for being overwhelmingly harsh or spicy. Don’t be fooled: this is as finely flavored a whiskey as you’ll find just about anywhere.

Overall: 9.3

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