Sunday, February 28, 2021

Michter's Barrel Strength Toasted Barrel Finish Kentucky Straight Rye - 2020


- $70
- 109.2 Proof
- Barrel No. 20H1738
- Kentucky

Three years ago Michter's followed up their annual Toasted Barrel Bourbon with their Toasted Barrel Rye. Up to that point, I had only heard about the Toasted Barrel Bourbon, but had never gotten my hands on it. When I got my chance to grab a rye, I remember being thrilled at the chance. And once I opened it, I was even more thrilled at just how damn good it was!! Even three years later I still remember that bottle and just how much I really loved it.

Of course, from there Michter's went back to the Toasted Barrel Bourbon, and they even released a Toasted Barrel Sour Mash. But this past year, they went back to the Toasted Barrel Rye well, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Once it was announced I put all my feelers out there to make sure that I got my hands on a bottle, and luckily for me it paid off. It's not every time that I get a new bottle that I open it right away, but that was absolutely the case here.

The nose on this one was soft and mellow. I got the traditional notes of brown sugar and vanilla. There was also the anticipated light note of pine, as well as a decent amount of cinnamon spice. I did get a sort of salted caramel note, however, that seemed to take over more and more as I made my way through the bottle, which I really enjoyed.

That caramel note really seemed to carry over to the flavor, but with a slight twist. It was almost like a spiced caramel. In addition to the rich, sugary sweetness of the caramel, it also had a nice spicy mix of black pepper and cinnamon. It was a great mix of sweet and heat, something that to me defines a good rye.

It had a light woodiness to it, that betrayed some age, though not a lot, and it certainly wasn't enough to dry it out at all. It was, without question, a sweeter rye whiskey. However, the light notes of pine and that mix of pepper and cinnamon was enough to keep it from being overly sweet.

On the final few pours I was consistently getting a flavor that was familiar to me, but I just wasn't able to place it. Eventually, though, it hit me, and I was definitely getting a prominent note of pancakes with maple syrup. It's at this point that the spice really took a back seat and that it truly became a sweet rye. It was still delicious, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't quite what I loved about the first 3/4ths of the bottle.

It's possible I built this one up to much in my mind. It's also possible that this one simply wasn't as good as the first run. That said, that first run set the bar very high, and I can't say that I was necessarily expecting it to get over that bar. That said, this was still a fantastic whiskey, one which I had a hard time saving, despite how much I may have wanted to. I hope Michter's continues to make this, as, at least in my mind, it's the best of the toasted barrel offerings.

Grade: A-

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