Whiskey Review: Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019) - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019)

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Michter’s. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

We had the pleasure of reviewing the 20 year old bourbon release from Michter’s that was released for 2018 and found it to be a great expression of a super aged bourbon. It’s rather common to find old American whiskeys to be oaked out and hot. However, as more premium releases continue to be unveiled, the master blenders and master distillers of our day are getting increasingly good it. Michter’s is a wonderful example of what talent and experience can do for a whiskey, and we’re excited to give the 2019 release a try.

Earlier in 2019, Pamela Heilmann retired from her position as Master Distiller of Michter’s. Previously the distillery manager at Beam and Master Distiller at Michter’s since 2016, she no doubt had a heavy hand in building the reputation and quality that Michter’s has brought to the table. She passed along the whiskey thief to Dan McKee, who (along with Andrea Wilson, their Master of Maturation) took the leading role on this year’s 20 year bourbon.

At Michter’s, they claim to pay special attention to barrels 17 years old or older. This allows them to pick out peak moments in flavor and balance in order to use them in older expressions such as this. By keeping an eye on those old barrels, they can moderate the amount of oak and accomplish softer and more complex whiskeys than your typical 15-20 year bourbons.

Consistent with their other old expressions, this whiskey comes from sourced whiskey that they have been using to get the refurbished brand up and running while they let their own stocks age. The 2019 release is a limited one, and this particular batch saw 440 bottles, of which the one reviewed here is number 375. Otherwise, the barrels and production notes are the same as 2018.

Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019)

Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019) (image via Cameron Holck/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019)

Vital Stats: 114.2 proof, 57.1% ABV, minimum 20 years old, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, charred American oak barrels, 440 bottles released. MSRP around $700, with market prices reaching $3000 and up.

Appearance: The bottle has the Michter’s sophisticated vintage look and a stout silver wax dipped top. The liquid is a perfect amber, slightly lighter than you might expect an old whiskey to be, with a dandelion hue on the edges. It bounces playfully in the glass.

Nose: From afar we find honey and oak, not charred oak but more like your smelling the outside of a full whiskey barrel. As you get closer you get pancakes, damp spring meadow, and a bit of almond. There is a light spice and not too much alcohol, a very balanced nose.

Palate: Chalky and balanced. Like the nose, the heat is mellow for 57%. We get white grape, a touch of sassafras, fresh cherry and clay. Blackberry comes forward a bit, but leather, honey covered pecans and duck fat carry it into a lightly spiced finish of nutmeg, clove, minerality – just a hint of rose petal. It lingers for what seems like an eternity.

The Takeaway

Summary

This is an absolutely fantastic bourbon from start to finish. For me, the key characteristic is a balance of honey, nut, fruit and a perfect sense of oak. There is no over-oaking here, and in fact it is an ideally balanced whiskey, especially for the age! I was expecting nothing less, but am truly impressed by what this whiskey accomplishes. After it opens a bit farther, it becomes something so special you don’t want to put it down.

5
User Rating 2.4 (30 votes)
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