Yes, it finally happened. The modern day Michter's Distilling Company has supposedly re-created the original Michter's Sour Mash whiskey made in Schaefferstown. I know I've been critical of the company, as have many others in the whiskey world, but let's investigate before throwing stones.....
According to Straightbourbon and a few other places, this was introduced several months ago as being on the market again for the first time in 20 some years. True for the name, not for the whiskey. This is not whiskey from Michter's Distillery in Schaefferstown, PA- let's make that clear. This is sourced whiskey from Kentucky. It is true that nothing called Michter's "Sour Mash" has been on the market since the early 90's.
Let's take a look at labeling:
1. The Schaefferstown bottle:
"Michter's Pot Still Original Sour Mash Whiskey"
2. The new bottle:
"Michter's Small Batch Original Sour Mash Whiskey"
Not much difference really. Both are labeled at 86 proof, with the Schaefferstown bottle saying "Distilled and Bottled in Pennsylvania" and the new bottle being labeled as "Bottled By Michter's Whiskey Company Bardstown, Kentucky 40004." Neither label hints at age or mashbill.
So how do senior and junior stack up?
Let's examine the Schaefferstown whiskey first:
We know this is a 50% corn, 38% rye, 12% barley malt whiskey aged in new or used barrels for 6 or more years. It came from either the small barrel-a-day pot still in the still house or the column-and-doubler main equipment in the still tower. WE MUST KEEP IN MIND THAT TIME HAS MOST LIKELY ALTERED THE FLAVOR SOMEWHAT OF THIS PRODUCT. My sample was stored in a decanter, which means it was exposed to some air over the years and it may have changed the flavor profile to a degree. I've compared it to several samples i have from other decanters and chosen this sample as the best representation of what I have. Because of this, I use this sample for comparative purposes only due to the excellent integrity of the flavor.
Color- Amber honey- Like my Yuengling Lager beer, maybe a little lighter. A beautiful sight indeed.
Nose- Char, maple and rye. Complex and reminiscent of Old Forester Signature. It's like an old cabin in the woods.
Palate- Bitter. Rye-forward and earthy. Like Sazerac and Old Grand Dad mixed together. In the background is some nice spice- probably a product of the rye and yeast. This whiskey makes no compromises and stands in well with Wild Turkey or Old Forester of yesteryear.
Finish- Not too long, but the char remains that was evident in the nose. Maple and pepper are players here. It's like downing Ridgemont Reserve and breathing out slowly. It's good!
All in all, a robust whiskey for 86 proof. Very good stuff that we'll never be able to have again. Proof Dick Stoll was THE MAN in case anyone had doubts.....
Now the new kid on the block- will he be hangin' tough?
Color- Same as the Schaefferstown sample, maybe a hare darker. A good start....
Nose- A little more vibrant. Fruitier and more tea and herbal tones. Still has that nice rye smell....
Palate- Sweeter for sure, but not too much. More syrup and citrus, but still earthy and herbal enough. More spry and vibrant.
Finish- Light wood and light sweets and sugar. As that fades, the tea flavors come back again to close it out. Very nice.
This is a good whiskey. At almost $40, it's steep, but it's also something out of the mainstream and is a wonderful 86 proof whiskey. Not your average bourbon Or rye for sure. It does seem to have many Heaven Hill traits.....
My conclusion- A very good whiskey and one that, considering the change in location, change in process, and gap in time, lives up to its Alma Mater pretty well. This is a whiskey for the Old Grand Dad, Wild Turkey, 1792, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Eagle Rare type folks. If this bottle was $25, I'd buy it by the case. Hopefully after the newness of the product wears off, there will be a price drop.....
Feel free to email me with any further questions!
To follow the saga and so I divulge some of my sources:
Michter's Sour Mash Whiskey on Straightbourbon