By Richard Thomas
This is an odd year for Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon, an annual limited release that sits in that odd, happy place for such a thing by actually being within reach for many enthusiasts. As a case in point, the 2015 edition was released four months ago, and is still available with several online retailers for right around $100.
That plays into that oddity I mentioned, because the 2016 Michter’s 10 Year Old Bourbon will be coming out in April. Willie “Dr. No” Pratt got his nickname for fixing his vision on when his barrels of whiskey hit their sweet spot, and putting the blinders on to considerations like a release schedule. So, we have two releases of this bourbon coming out almost back to back, and for fans of Michter’s that will create the happy accident of the 10 Year Old being almost plentiful, at least for the middle part of 2016.
What we have here is a minimum 10 years old, single barrel bourbon run through Michter’s secret battery of filtration and bottled at 94.2 proof (47.2% abv). It comes in the taller, thinner, wax-sealed bottle the company uses for it’s upper tier of whiskys. In the glass it has a clear, reddened copper appearance, and the swirl leaves a nice, viscous coating. My tasting came from barrel 15JB12.
This bourbon is a real noser, a delight to sniff at. A cup of warm caramel, sprinkled with coconut and dried banana flakes, seasoned with vanilla, and topped with a spoonful of citrus cream.
Scents like that suggest this should be a sweet bourbon, but a taste reveals a hard twist. At first, it is a spicier rendition of the nose, packed with vanilla and caramel on the one hand, and cinnamon and cloves on the other, but then a wave of dry wood and barrel char rises up and washes over the tongue. The finish is minty and peppery in equal measures, and surprisingly low on the warmth given how long the spiciness lingers.
While only moderately complex, the 2015 Michter’s 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon is supremely well-balanced. Bourbon fans who like their whiskey to lean into the spicy and/or woody side should seek it out without delay.
Expect to pay around $120 for this whiskey. I have seen a couple of online retailers offering discounts as low as $90, and others have marked it up to well over $200. Seek the former and, in particular, avoid the latter.