Sunday, February 18, 2018

Michter's Barrel Strength Toasted Barrel Finish Kentucky Straight Rye

VITALS:
- $80
- 109.4 Proof
- NAS
- Barrel No. 17C535
- Kentucky

It's been a while since I actively sought out a particular bottle. Most of my purchasing decisions are made on the spot while browsing the shelves of my local liquor store. I had heard great things about the Michter's Toasted Barrel Finish bourbons (though I never got to try one), and when I heard they were releasing a Toasted Barrel Finish Rye, I knew I had to get my hands on a bottle.

But, I had very little luck in securing a bottle. It seemed every time I asked a store they only got one or two bottles and each time they had just sold out. I had given up, and went back to my old ways of browsing the shelves and seeing what catches my eye, when I wandered into my local Binny's and found one sitting in their locked cabinet. Without hesitation I summoned the nearest employee and snatched it up (their last one, they told me).

So, I completely hyped this product in my mind, and I was going to be really disappointed if it didn't live up to expectations. I had really set myself up for disappointment here, but fortunately this did not disappoint! I've referenced in past posts what I like in a rye, and I've referred it as traditional rye flavors. I think what I've come to define as traditional is a more rye heavy mashbill (75%-95% rye), and with minimal barley influence, something I've started noticing in some ryes. I've found the barley mutes the spiciness, and that spicy kick is what I love in a rye.

Admittedly, I don't know what the mashbill is on the Michter's rye. I do know, however, that it fits my framework of "traditional" rye, and I really like it. And I love this barrel strength toasted barrel finish! Apparently maturing the rye and then finishing it in toasted barrels (as opposed to heavily charred barrels) has a very positive and delicious effect on the whiskey.

The nose gives of a sweet cereal smell, reminding me of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal, but without the milk. On top of that, though, it has an intriguing molasses note, and even hints of anise. The nose itself was more complex then most other whiskeys I've been drinking lately.

As noted above, the flavor is right in line with what I enjoy in a rye. It has a sweet vanilla flavor up front, followed by a long, cinnamon-spiced finish that just never went away. It has a very silky texture (comparatively speaking) that made it very easy to sip and enjoy and minimized any alcohol burn. It had a nice, viscous texture as well that coated the mouth with each sip, nice and thick and sticky.

Interestingly, along with that pronounced vanilla flavor up front was something that reminded me of wine, but not the grape or fruit notes of wine. I think it reminded me more of the tannins that you get in wines, perhaps a result of extra maturation in the toasted barrel. It was subtle, but certainly there. In later pours, I also got those molasses notes that I initially got on the nose, as well as a certain nutty flavor, kind of like pecan. When all combined, this was like drinking a pecan pie with ice cream that, for some reason, had a nice cinnamon kick at the end.

I couldn't get enough of this whiskey, and as I sit here typing this post out I'm wishing I had more. I'll move on to other whiskeys and I'm sure there will be plenty of other ryes that I enjoy, but this one certainly set the bar for me. This is absolutely delicious, goes great with Girl Scout cookies, and if you find it, buy it!

Grade: A+

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