Whiskey Review: Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (2018) - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (2018)

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.

When I’m not reviewing bourbon but still want to drink it, Michter’s is one of the brands I turn to. I know it’s going to be reliable and even delicious. I recommend it a lot, too. I like its honeyed mouth feel, its butterscotch undertones, without being sweet in the least. So when I got a bottle of the Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon, I was super-excited. It’s not very often one gets to sample this; the last time it came out was in 2015.

As we mentioned back in August, the Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish is made from Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It then gets aged for more time (Breaking Bourbon claims 26 days) in a second, custom-made barrel that is toasted, but not heavily charred, which is more typical for bourbon barrels. Bourbon Scout describes them well, as oak staves dried for 18 months.

Why so long? Michter’s attributes it to whiskey shortages they’ve been experiencing. So. I was wondering if it was worth the wait. For what it’s worth, when I opened the bottle, the cap came out with the resounding, comforting pop of a champagne cork. And perhaps sometimes having to wait three years makes it all the more celebratory when you get what you want?

Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon

Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (image via Carin Moonin/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (2018)

Vital stats: 91.4 proof; about $60; aged first in charred, new American white oak then in toasted barrel made from aged, air-dried wood.

Appearance: Copper when the sun has hit it; burnished, shiny maple planks; orange-tinged ochre. Faintly glowy.

Nose: Oooh, this is niiiiice. It’s got that characteristic (to me) Werther’s rich butterscotch aroma. And vanilla cake, fresh out of the oven. Marshmallow. Dark chocolate. Basically all the desserty flavors, without being cringingly sweet.

Palate: Surprisingly different than the nose. Like, total opposite. While the nose is all sweet, the palate is more savory, even herbal. Like evergreen, mint, almost like an aquavit? More chewy, almost, like a good rye versus the smooth sweetness of a bourbon. There’s less richness, more clarity. At 91.4 proof, it tastes stronger; there’s more of a high-alcohol taste, makes the lips a little tingly. I wanted more, somehow? Like, a little more decadence.

It made me wonder if I was remembering Michter’s not as correctly as I thought, so I got out the bottle of Michter’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight 10-year I had to compare. The nose on that was quite light and cinnamon-scented, but on the palate there’s that ceremonial richness I’d remembered—a dessert with body, a cake with heft, a well-layered petit four. I preferred this versus the one in this review. It is good…but not phenomenal, in my opinion. But maybe I rushed in with unrealistic expectations–which isn’t rare, really…

The Takeaway

This wasn’t bad, but it did surprise me in its difference in palate from other bottles of Michter's I've had. If you are a tremendous Michter’s loyalist or simply have lots of patience for editions that only come out every few years, you’ll likely love this. I mean I do adore Michter’s, it’s one of my favorites, but I had expected a dessert-ish bourbon and was a little thrown. I wanted the palate to deliver more, especially after all that time.

User Rating 3 (3 votes)