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Every Bottle Of Michter’s Whiskey On The Market, Tested And Ranked

Michter’s Distillery out in Kentucky is producing some of the most sought after and beloved juice in the whole whiskey game, worldwide. Their entry-level bottles often take center stage on bar shelves and provide some of the best cocktail bases you can find. Their limited releases — ten-year expressions, toasted barrel finishes, and barrel strength bottles — hit high marks with both casual drinkers, experts, and industry folks as the perfect crossover bottles that work as mixers and sippers in equal measure. Then there are the unicorn bottles of Michter’s bourbon and rye. Expressions that have become some of the highest status symbol bottles in the entire whiskey world — in part, thanks to Billions making Celebration the drink of the show.

When it comes to ranking all the bottles from a brand like this, it’s hard to know where to start and what parameters to set. There are some really pricey bottles here and also some pretty affordable expressions. I did my best not to take that into account. This is simply about tasting these bottles and ranking them according to my palate. It’s really that simple, folks.

Below, I’ve ranked all 17 Michter’s expressions that are released either widely or by allocation to select bars and retailers. Full disclosure, I love this brand and its juice. Master Blender Andrea Wilson and Master Distiller Dan McKee are doing some of the best work in whiskey right now and even the top-notch releases listed here only feel like the beginning of what they’re building together, which is pretty exciting. So let’s get straight into it — click on those prices if you want to dive into Michter’s right next to Bobby Axelrod, Wags, and the crew.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

17. US*1 Small Batch Unblended American Whiskey

Michters Distillery

ABV: 41.7%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

Generally speaking, when you see a whiskey labeled as “American Whiskey” it’s a blend of whiskey with neutral grain spirits to help keep costs down and profits high. This expression is labeled as “Unblended,” specifically because it’s juice from Michter’s barrels only. The whiskey in these bottles was aged in barrels that are “whiskey-soaked.” Once the whiskey is just right, it’s then blended and small-batch bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Fruit greets you upfront. That fruit becomes more of dried fruit with bourbon vanilla and mild caramel sweetness. The fruit is what draws a line through the taste as the warm end slowly fades out.

Bottom Line:

Look, something has to be in this spot. While I really dig this expression, this is the bottle I keep in the freezer for shots and mixing highballs.

16. US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

Michter’s really means the phrase “small batch” here. The tank they use to marry their hand-selected eight-year-old bourbons can only hold 20 barrels, so that’s how many go into each small-batch bottling. The blended juice is then proofed with Kentucky’s famously soft limestone water and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Buttery caramel and peaches mix with creamy vanilla and oak on the nose. The vanilla really shines as the peach almost takes on a grilled edge as it gets sweeter and adds a whisper of smoke next to peppery spice. The spice kicks up and warms the senses as the slow fade embraces stone fruit, toffee, and more vanilla with a final kick of charred oak.

Bottom Line:

This is a fine bourbon that really shines best as a cocktail base. That being said, it works well on the rocks too. That’s what’s so hard about ranking this brand. All their releases — even the entry-level stuff — are really refined and drinkable.

15. US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Rye

Michters Distillery

ABV: 42.4%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This single barrel rye is the rye that you can measure most others against (at this price point). The well-crafted juice is warehoused until the deeply charred new white oak barrels hit just the right moment in both texture and taste.

Tasting Notes:

Peppery rye and a hint of citrus open this one up. There’s a distant line of toffee but it’s really that peppery rye that shines the most, with a subtle velvet textural depth. The wood carries the sip towards a warm, spicy end that lasts just long enough to remind you to take another sip.

Bottom Line:

If you’re mixing Sazeracs or Manhattans this fall and winter, use this whiskey. It’s a dream in a cocktail.

14. US*1 Small Batch Original Sour Mash

Michters Distillery

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This was the first American whiskey to be named “Whiskey of the Year” by The Whiskey Exchange in 2019. The reason this is a “sour mash” and not a bourbon or rye is that the mash bill doesn’t focus on corn or rye, hence it’s just a sour mash whiskey. The juice is then aged in new white oak with a heavy char.

Tasting Notes:

Smoked plums and rye spice mingle up top. The sip really embraces the smoky dark fruit with hints of vanilla and cherry popping up on the palate. The dram carries that smoky plumminess through to the end with a nice nod to the oak and bourbon-y vanilla underbelly.

Bottom Line:

This is the first bottle that I really didn’t know where to rank. It’s so damn unique and delicious that it feels like a huge disservice to rank it 14th(!). I really like this on the rocks or in a highball. And it ranking this low just goes to show how high we’re about to go.

13. US*1 Barrel Strength Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 55.3%

Average Price: $555

The Whiskey:

Michter’s fills their barrels with 103 proof juice. After a handful of years spent aging, that proof inches upwards as the angels take their share. Usually, the whiskey is cut with that soft Kentucky limestone water before bottling but not in this case. This is pulled from single honey barrels that were just too good to cut.

Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you deep into the classic bourbon ecosystem of rich and buttery toffees next to salted dark chocolate-covered cherries, a touch of smoked stone fruits, and a minor note of spicy tobacco leaf. The palate delivers on those notes as the tobacco spice amps up before being smoothed out by rich and creamy vanilla, salted caramel, and apricot stone dryness. That dryness drives the mid-palate towards the finish with a pecan shell vibe next to slightly bitter singed cedar bark.

Bottom Line:

This is a very rare release from 2017 and continues to wow to this day. Back then, I’d primarily use this for mixing whiskey-forward old fashioneds thanks to those high ABVs. These days, however, it’s more of an investment bottle.

12. US*1 Barrel Strength Rye

Michters Distillery

ABV: 54%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Like the bourbon above, this too is pulled from single barrels that were just too good to vat or cut. The juice is bottled as is at a slightly higher proof than when it went in the barrel.

Tasting Notes:

That dark cherry note is still there on the nose but this it’s supported by a butterscotch candy and a mulled wine spice mix that’s heavy on the cinnamon. The palate evens out with this creamy vanilla foundation that’s touched with eggnog spices next to a slight note of smoke — as if someone lit the vanilla husks on fire and let them smolder — while the cherry leans into a spicy tobacco warmth. That spicy tobacco drives towards a Tellicherry black peppercorn, adding to the woody depth of the dry and warm finish, bringing about a true Kentucky hug.

Bottom Line:

This will be much easier to find than the bourbon version. Still, I really like mixing with this. It’s bold and dry and works wonders in a cocktail while still being a great candidate for an on the rocks sipper. It’s a little hot neat but that’s just me.

11. US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $430

The Whiskey:

This is where things get interesting. Michter’s originally dropped this back in 2014. The juice is standard bourbon that’s then finished in a toasted barrel from the famed Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville. They build these barrels by hand from 18-month air-dried white oak and then lightly toast the inside before the aged whiskey goes in.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a pecan pie vibe that’s nutty, dry, and full of dark Caro syrup sweetness with a hint of candied orange peels with a touch of cinnamon and cedar bark. The palate holds onto the sweetness as it leans towards a campfire roasted marshmallow, a touch of saffron and clove-stewed pears, a pile of sappy firewood, and creamy nuances of vanilla pudding all meander through your senses. The end has a light savory nature that leads back to the pear, vanilla, and marshmallow on a very slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is the first big leap upward in Michter’s releases. This bottle is truly spectacular when it comes to bourbon and it’s not even in the top freaking ten.

10. US*1 Barrell Strength Toasted Barrel Finish Rye

Michters Distillery

ABV: 54.6%

Average Price: $350

The Whiskey:

This juice is Michter’s standard rye that’s finished in a second, toasted barrel. In this case, those barrels are air-dried for 24 long months before being lightly toasted and loaded with the rye. The juice then goes into the bottle at barrel strength.

Tasting Notes:

This has a spicy and sweet nose that’s just like a buttery, candied and dried fruit and nut-filled holiday cake that’s been drenched in good whiskey and left to sit for a month to really amp up those flavors. The taste has a clear sense of dates, creamed vanilla honey, walnuts, wet brown sugar, and a touch of salted dark chocolate with a whisper of bitterness. The mid-palate dries out towards that pitchy yet dry woodpile with an echo of dirt from the bottom of that woodpile on the finish.

Bottom Line:

Michter’s started out in the 1990s as the whiskey company that wanted to bring rye back. A couple of decades later, it’d be hard to argue with their success. Part of that is due to this bottle of booze. It’s everything you want in a rye that’s also an education for your palate — unique and endlessly drinkable.

9. US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash

Michters Distillery

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $300

The Whiskey:

This release takes Michter’s signature Sour Mash and, again, finishes it in toasted barrels. In this case, it’s an 18-month air-dried and lightly toasted barrel that carries the whiskey to the finish line before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear note of orange oils speckled over dark chocolate with a hint of salt, fresh honey, vanilla oils, and buttery toffee brittle (kind of like the inside of a Butterfinger). The palate leans into smoked cherries with mild notes of dry clove and allspice berries with a light dusting of nutmeg. The vanilla and toffee drive the palate towards a sweet cherry tobacco finish with a light kiss of warmth.

Bottom Line:

One of the biggest surprises of the whole Michter’s line is their Sour Mash expressions. These are killer whiskeys that will make you say, “Woah…” just like Keanu Reeves when you sip them for the first time.

8. Bomberger’s Declaration 2021

Michters Distillery

ABV: 54%

Average Price: $170

The Whiskey:

This whiskey heralds back to Micther’s historical roots in the 19th century before the brand was even called “Michter’s.” The juice on the bottle is rendered from a very small batch of bourbons that were aged in Chinquapin oak which was air-dried for three years before charring and filling.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with this rich and meaty plum presence next to a hint of buttery toffee and creamy vanilla with a touch of wood lurking in the background. The palate goes full crème brûlée with sticky burnt sugar over the top and a slight touch of allspice and nutmeg next to a dark cacao powder dryness with a touch of smoke salt and light, dry cedar. The mid-palate leans back into the dark stone fruit and sweetness as it only slightly dries out.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those bourbons that you can stick on a bar cart that really draws the eye (it’s a very similar bottle shape to Pappy). The juice in the bottle really shines and stands next to any bourbon with way more hype and much higher secondary price points.

7. Shenk’s Homestead 2021

Michters Distillery

ABV: 45.6%

Average Price: $170

The Whisky:

Chinquapin oak is at the core of this release as well. The variable here is that this isn’t bourbon. This straight whisky leans heavily into rye but isn’t rye, not by law anyway. The juice is devised to highlight the best of both worlds with a unique barreling that really brings something unique to the table and palate.

Tasting Notes:

Bright notes of orange peels dipped in brown sugar mingle with a hint of vanilla beans and Christmas cake spices. Those spices amp up on the palate and lean towards nearly Red Hot cinnamon notes, plenty of allspice, and a nice touch of nutmeg as a dry yet meaty raisin nature takes things in a new direction. The finish lets those orange oils shine as a cedar note arrives late, drying out the finish and letting the woodier side of the spices pop.

Bottom Line:

Along with Bomberger’s above, this really stands tall amongst the Pappy’s of the world. Trivia: “Shenk’s” is the original name for the brand. This holdover from a lost era is quality juice that will impress any passive whiskey drinker and satisfy any aficionado, even the great Wags.

(tie) 5. Michter’s 20-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 57.1%

Average Price: $8,000

The Whiskey:

Master Distiller Dan McKee personally selects these 20-year-old (at least) barrels from their rickhouses based on, well, excellence. The juice is bottled as-is with no cutting with water.

Tasting Notes:

Imagine dark and sweet cherries smothered in rummy molasses with a touch of dried roses, nuts, and cedar all leading towards the soft — almost wet — tobacco leaf. That’s just the nose. The palate doesn’t veer too far from those notes but adds in a touch of burnt ends from vanilla pods with a light spice that leans more towards that tobacco than woody brown spices. The finish really embraces the cherry but more towards the stem and seed as the nuttiness leans marzipan and the tobacco takes on an ever-so-slight chewiness.

Bottom Line:

I originally had this pegged as number six and it was just wrong. The top five of this list are all benchmark whiskeys that pretty much define their styles. Yes, this is only tied for fifth (which is wild). Still, this is a 100/100 whiskey and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

(tie) 5. Michter’s Single Barrel 10-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 47.2%

Average Price: $350

The Whiskey:

The juice in this bottle is a little under wraps. Michter’s is currently distilling and aging their own whiskey, but this is still sourced. The actual barrels sourced for these single barrel expressions tend to be at least ten years old with some rumored to be closer to 15 years old (depending on the barrel’s quality, naturally). Either way, the juice goes through Michter’s bespoke filtration process before a touch of Kentucky’s iconic soft limestone water is added, bringing the bourbon down to a very crushable 94.4 proof.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with subtle notes of soft wood and worn leather next to light touches of dark berries, orange oils, egg nog spice, and slight toffee sweetness. The palate starts off equally soft with something more akin to maple syrup sweetness which then leads into a rush of berry brambles. The mid-palate hits on a bit of dark spice, vanilla tobacco, and dark cacao… maybe espresso?… bitterness. The finish leans into a dry-yet-almost-sweet oak with a touch of an almond shell and dry grass coming in at the very end.

The real beauty is in the softness of the taste. There are no rough edges whatsoever and the whole sipping experience is like a silken dream. The soft limestone water does help the drinkability without making it feel thin. And while this isn’t an ABV bomb that’ll leave you burning, it’s not meant to be. This is the epitome of a slow-sipping bourbon with real depth.

Bottom Line:

I honestly don’t know which Michter’s I prefer from the 10 and 20-year. I’m not being hyperbolic. They both have their charms and that’s why they’re tied. That being said, I do drink the 10-year bourbon as a go-to on the rocks pour and the 20 comes out for Christmas, birthdays, and so forth.

Still, if I’m being completely honest with myself, that’s more to do with price than taste. So here we are.

4. Michter’s Singel Barrel 10-Year Kentucky Straight Rye

Michters Distillery

ABV: 46.4%

Average Price: $330

The Whiskey:

This release is in the same selection process as the ten-year bourbon above. However, because the point of Michther’s was to bring rye back to mainstream prominence, this bottle holds a very special place in whiskey drinker’s hearts. This is the bottle of rye that distillers are still chasing to this day.

Tasting Notes:

Butter-rich toffee meets marzipan cut with rose water next to black peppery spice, apple-cider-soaked cinnamon sticks, and an earthy cedar bark. Bespoke Red Hots mingle with orange oils, more cedar, vanilla pods, and a rush of fresh spicy/sweet chili peppers. The almond edge loses some of its marzipan sweetness and dries out as the cedar marries spicy tobacco, soft vanilla cream, and orange oils linger on your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is phenomenal rye. That being said, I use this to make Manhattans. We call them “$50 Manhattans” in my circle of friends because that’s just how we roll. Side note, don’t let anyone ever judge you for how you chose to enjoy your whiskey.

3. Michter’s 25-Year Single Barrel Straight Rye

Michters Distillery

ABV: 58.65%

Average Price: $37,000

The Whiskey:

All we really know about these barrels are that they prove the prowess of the Michter’s team to bring in the best of the best in the whiskey world. It’s rare that a 25-year-old whiskey aged in a new oak will taste this nuanced but that’s sort of the magic of Michter’s.

Tasting Notes:

There’s an earthiness here that feels like dried white moss on a wet forest floor next to little popping notes of bitter yet oily espresso beans, vanilla that costs way too much to buy, oranges wrapped in gold cellophane, and an almost wet black pepper vibe. Okay, let’s move on to the palate. Golden sultanas draw you in with a very clear sense of clove that almost leads to anise (maybe black licorice) with that vanilla staying dry as the orange oils become burnt and this distant note of salted, almost black cacao powder harkens the finish. That finish does lean into a classic Tellicherry cracked black pepper but remains dry and features just the right amount of dried fruit sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those sips that might change you as a whiskey drinker — yes, it’s that good. It’s also an investment bottle. Our advice is to pay a grand for the pour at some high-end whiskey bar and stow away the bottle for your kid’s college fund.

2. Michter’s 25-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 58.1%

Average Price: $9,000

The Whiskey:

This is a sourced barrel of 25-year-old juice. That’s all we really know besides that it’s a whiskey that needed zero cutting to taste amazing.

Tasting Notes:

This draws you in with this matrix of rich and brandy-soaked holiday cake brimming with candied and dried fruits that edges into a smoked almond nuttiness and an almost funky rummy molasses next to browned butter on its own. That browned butter is what informs the palate, as the silkiness of this taste cannot be overstated. The palate really leans into the smoked almonds with a nice savory edge while the butter marries the holiday cake and almonds to create rich marzipan with a very mild cedar note that’s like a very old cigar humidor. The end just sits on your palate like a soft hug from an old friend as the nuttiness and sweetness slowly fade out, leaving you … happy.

Bottom Line:

This 25-year-old bourbon is a masterpiece. We’ll never know where these barrels came from. But you know what? Who cares? This juice is the nectar of the gods. Look at it this way, there’s a reason this costs about twice as much as Pappy 23 on the secondary market.

We’ll just leave it at that.

1. Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash 2019

Michters Distillery

ABV: 57.8%

Average Price: $15,000

The Whiskey:

This is a collaboration between Master Distiller Dan McKee and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson who selected six barrels between ten, 20, and 30 years old. Those barrels were vatted and bottled without any cutting with water.

Tasting Notes:

Buttery dark chocolate fudge sits next to an earthy, almost mossy note as eggnog spices mingle with a savory fruit hint on the nose. It’s all subtle but so clear. Then the taste takes those spices and builds out a flavor profile of grilled peaches next to smoked pineapple topped with maple-syrup-soaked pecans and a splash of vanilla cream and a dusting a freshly ground cinnamon. That dry spice leads from a mid-palate to a finish that holds onto those sweet pecans while the dry moss makes a late comeback and settles into your senses with a note of nutmeg, smoked peach, and orange oil.

Bottom Line:

For my palate, this is perfect. This is one of those bottles that makes me mad that I cannot drink it every day. It also makes sense that the Billions writer’s room chose this to be the ultimate of the ultimate whiskeys for their show. There’s really very little out there that tops this whiskey (no matter where you are in the world).


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