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Month February 2015

Michter’s Whiskey… a Great Whiskey Story – James Melendez

Michter’s Whiskeys got me to think and re-think the whiskey movement in the US.  I have always had a great appreciation for all whiskey styles.  And yet it seems that the collective imagination is on Scotch and Scotland.  And the lion’s share is a big pie slice weighted more heavily to Scotch than other whiskey traditions.

The American movement like any other alcoholic beverage has a point where the craft was put on hold–that being Prohibition.  And the road to where we are today has been a long and winding one.  Prohibition was a massive failure and yet after it’s repeal the movement of fine wine, beer and spirits doesn’t happen for quite some time after.  We would have to wait a few generations before the demand and creation of these beverage arts would happen.

 The legacy of Michters was founded in Schaefferstown Pennsyvlania in 1753 by Swiss Mennonites John and Michael Shenk.  It is said that General Washington had purchased whiskey from this distillery for a long and trying winter in Valley Forge for his troops.  The distillery was purchased by Abraham Bomberger in 1860 and through a series of owners and after Prohibition the distillery was purchased by Lou Forman and he named this distillery Michters after his sons Michael and Peter.  Michters brand lasts until 1989 when the distillery and label are shuttered.  In the 1990s the Michter’s label is resurrected and begins to create fine American whiskeys once again.  Joseph Magliocco and Richard Newman recharter Michters in the 1990s and the tradition begins again.  The appreciation and market demand finally comes back to life; a whole host of new labels are started and this is during a period of great demand and appreciation of smaller production beer, wine and spirits.  Looking in the review mirror to a generation we see the upstart of this great movement of small and thoughtful batches in this past decade and half.  The market was both developed and partially ready.  Now in 2015 is the expectation of a well stocked bar to have a wide selection of Whiskies, Vodkas, Gins, Tequila and so forth.  I hear often from people seated next to me asking for a particular spirit; bartenders are knowledgable and adventure seeking consumers.

Master Distiller Willie Pratt’s interpretation of each whiskey style Michter’s producers are seamless whiskeys with considerable artistry and yet a great leaning and homage to each style this house produces.  See below for a video review I completed for each Michter’s Whiskey

Michter’s Whiskeys

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Whiskey 9.6 (96)

Scent:  cinnamon stick, moist autumnal leaves, aspen forest, stone fruit orchard, and leather

Flavour notes: mix of citrus zest and peel, white peach, cinnamon, cardamom,hint of maple, and anise


Michter’s Straight Rye Whiskey – 9.5 (95)

Scent: leather, aspen forest, vanilla, exotic spice rack, and dried flowers

Flavour notes:  peach, citrus tones, cardamom, allspice, tea, and white pepper

Michter’s Bourbon Whiskey – 9.5 (95)

Scent: rich wood tones, suede, clove, allspice, and moist forest

Flavour notes:  roasted stone fruit, lemon peel, cinnamon, red pepper, smoke and hint of butter scotch

Michters Unblended American Whiskey – 9.4 (94)

Scent:  spiced Comice pear and heirloom apple, nutmeg, roses, allspice, and suede

Flavour notes: Comice pear, dried fig, allspice, toffee, thyme, cinnamon cardamom and pepper

Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey – 9.4 (94)  

Scent: mix of juniper and cedar wood, ancient forest, forest floor, cardamom, nutmeg and exotic tea.

Flavour notes: butterscotch, peach, white pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, and mace

Each of these whiskeys are great proof of both the central spirit and history of Michters.  These bottles highlight exemplary quality, depth and beauty of the American whiskey movement.


– James Melendez


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