Updated May 26, 2017
By Richard Thomas
Starting in October 2014, Michter’s became a company in transition from bottler to distiller, as they received and set up their equipment in Louisville’s Shively district. This achievement has confirmed that Michter’s will soon become a medium-sized fixture in the Kentucky bourbon industry, a development that is no doubt behind so many croakers eating some crow and changing their tune.
Yet before all of that was the simple fact that Michter’s acquired some wonderful stock, blended it well, and bottled it in a line of fine products. Even some of their most unhinged critics would sometimes acknowledge the whiskey in the bottles was very good stuff. The foundation of that quality is the entry-level, no age statement (NAS) US*1 whiskeys, such as the US*1 Rye.
Michter’s US*1 Rye is a single barrel, straight whiskey, bottled at 84.8 proof (42.4% abv). No information on sourcing or mashbill is available. Although technically an NAS, the expression is known to draw from barrels at least three years old. As a single barrel, that suggests a given batch could be somewhat older, especially in view of Willie Pratt’s reputation to pull the bung on no cask before its time, scheduling be damned.
In the glass, the whiskey has a nice, even coloring of bright coppery orange, very much what one might expect from a proof in the 80s and a not -too-aged liquid. The nose is packed with fruity, spicy rye notes, but strongly belted with something of the earthy caramel candy, like a proper craft caramel candy sans the saltiness.
The liquid has a creamy texture on the palate, but in contrast to the nose it delivers a more standard current of rye flavors, albeit with a quite woody twist. The taste is citrus and rye spice sweet, rolled up with a pinch of wet tobacco, and with a distinctly dry and woody stripe running from start to finish. That finish is mild, but endowed with a lengthy, spicy afterglow.
Although not subtle or overly complex, Michter’s US*1 Rye is quite robust for a whiskey with an alcohol content below 50%. It’s eminently approachable and easy going, offering a superb entry for newcomers and a rewarding go-to for the more experienced drinker.
Addendum By Father John Rayls
The liquid’s color in the bottle appears as dark copper, but it is slightly lighter in the glass. There are shiny brass highlights in the rye when observed in either. The legs appear quickly and are everywhere at once. They are mostly on the thin side, and multiply rapidly.
The nose draws you into the experience, with a lightly spicy scent, built on a foundation of caramel/vanilla, sweet corn and aged leather. My advice is to take your time with this portion.
A sip imparts a light coating of the mouth, as most of the palate activity takes place from mid-tongue to the back of the mouth. It’s sweet and light, and from my taste buds comes a bit of a Kraft Caramel memory flash from my childhood.
The finish is long and satisfying. It starts at the back of the throat and also at the tip of the tongue simultaneously. It’s spicy and even peppery finish, but one that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
This isn’t a complex whiskey, not at all, but it is an enjoyable, drinkable Rye, sippable neat or on the rocks.
Pricing for Michter’s US*1 Straight Rye shows it ranges from $35 to $45.