January 22, 2014

Review: Michter's 10 Year Rye - A Mysterious, and Solemn Beast

Ok, first of all an apology.  We're sorry.  Deeply, truly sorry.  Well, not that sorry.  We're sorry because this is going to be another "listen to how great this bottle is, too bad you're never going to be able to taste it."  We know, we've been doing a lot of those lately.  Between the Black Maple Hill single barrels & WL Weller 19 last week, the Fantasy Bourbon Tournament, the AH Hirsch, and the vintage Pappy Van Winkles, we realize that we've been less than helpful and more in the realm of teasing, tantalizing, and downright rudely gloating about some of the gems we've been drinking this winter.  We're doing it again aren't we?  Sorry.  But not that sorry.  Anyway we promise that we'll be covering some much more attainable and practical whiskeys in the very near future.  There are some great new releases on the shelf right now and we have some exciting reviews coming up.  For now...

A friend of SmokyBeast found this bottle hiding away at a liquor store and was kind enough to trade it to us for a couple of other gems that we were willing to sacrifice.  This was a favorite of ours a few years ago when it was widely available, but sadly has been discontinued and is next to impossible to find these days.  If you do find one, buy it.  If you find two, but us one (as if you're doing us any favors after that intro paragraph...)  It's ok, you'll want to drink both anyway.


Michter's 10-Year Rye

Michter's has some haters.  You see, the real Michter's was legendary hooch that was distilled in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania - the same distillery as the holy grail of bourbon: AH Hirsch Reserve.  Today's Michter's brand preserves only the name, acting as an independent bottler of bourbons and ryes from unnamed sources.  This could be seen as a shady move, like if Ferrari stopped making cars and started putting their hood ornaments on Hondas.  Some purists just can't get past this marketing move and boycott all modern-day Michter's.  We've never thought of ourselves as purists though, and if the stuff still tastes good, who really cares where it comes from anyway?

Far from it, hubby and wifey are admitted modern-day Michter's buffs.  Wifey got all patriotic on US*1 Rye, and hubby went on record saying that Michter's 10-Year was his favorite everyday bourbon.  (Yeah sure, we'd both drink SW Pappy and AH Hirsch all day if that was an option, but favorite everyday sauce is still a pretty strong vote).  We even went as far as going back through the history of Michter's 10-Year barrels in a blind taste test to see if what they're making today measures up to past releases.  So yeah, we're into it.

Tasting Notes

Appearance:  No, that bottle's not tinted, and doesn't employ any of the modern-day tricks like coloring the inside of the back label black.  It's a beautiful lush ruby color with highlights of hazel.

Nose:  First up is deep vanilla beans, mocha, and melting butter.  Very warm and inviting aroma that melds into all the things we like: oak and leather, and - characteristic of a rye - sort of a final crack to the nose of spices and grain.

Palate:  The body is thick.  You can tell this by just swirling the rye in the glass and watching the thick bands of liquid roll down the side.  And you can tell as soon as you take a drop - it fills your mouth with flavor and viscosity with just a small sip.  The sweetness is less apparent on the tongue with a spicy and firm taste: herbal/botanicals like thyme and caraway, mint and and menthol, and a hefty dose of crushed pepper.

Finish:  It's right in the pocket at 93 proof with a gorgeous finish.  The sweetness of the nose returns a bit for a great balance with the dominant wood and spice, preserving a spirit warmth without any raw alcohol burn.


Conclusion

Is it perfect?  No.  It's not the best rye we've ever had.  The vintage Rittenhouse was better.  Some of the very mature Willetts are superior as well.  But if we had the chance to buy this at the original price of around $80, we'd buy a case right now without hesitation.  It's just so drinkable.  Could it in fact be older than ten years?  We think that's likely.  Sadly, unlike Michter's 10 Year Bourbon, which is still widely available, there was a much smaller amount of 10 Year Rye released.  The bourbon has barrel numbers that go from number, letter - dash - number (i.e. 7k-3) to four numbers (2339) to the recent codes like 13G153.  As far as we know, only the first codes of ryes exist.  If anyone has seen a bottle of 10-year rye with a different type of code than number, letter, number, let us know.  So we shed a tear because this rescued dusty treasure will probably be our last taste of an awesome former love.

But let the conclusion be such:  Michter's put out a new release of this ASAP!!  You've got some fans desperately running dry and jonez'ing for a new supply!

Has anyone got Michter's 10-Year rye in their liquor cabinet?  Did anyone enjoy this beast back in the day when it was on the shelves?  Let us know what you think.

Cheers/SB

17 comments :

  1. Just found a bottle on a shelf along side a 10 year bourbon. Sent it along to a friend though. This review is making me question my decision....

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    1. It was barrel 8L-1 and the bourbon 9C-4

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    2. Those were pretty good finds, Dave. You're a good friend!!

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  2. Thanks so much for this review. Last night I saw a bottle of this on a local store's shelf and snapped it up. The clerk informed me it was the last of 3 bottles that came in last week. The code is different —14C168 (the 8 might be a B); so it looks like this is coming back, though of course in extremely limited quantities.

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    1. Yup, we actually just scored one of the new bottles. We're actually trying to line up a Michter's 10 Year Rye vertical similar to the bourbon one we did. We'll have to put the new juice to the test!!! Have you tried the old M10 Rye? And have you opened your bottle yet? Please post back with your impressions!

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    2. Looking forward to your post on the various 10 year ryes! I was able to snag a bottle yesterday with a bottle code of 14C174. It's been so long since I've had the 10 year rye but I don't remember the older bottlings having a stronger mint type nose. When I first opened the new release, I didn't get that note and it honestly tasted more like bourbon, with a good amount of cinnamon type spice on the finish. However, a day later it doesn't taste quite the same. Cowdery noted it seemed like Indiana and there seems to be some very small similarities but in my opinion, not close enough to say it's from Indiana. The nose is has more of a deeper sugar than most of the LDI stuff I've tried, the finish has more of a peppered spice with menthol. My palate is not developed enough so more likely than not, a month later I will have a different impression. A very good rye but the price point will scare away some folks or question if it's worth it.

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    3. We haven't done the full tasting yet, but a quick back to back indicates that the 14x ryes are not nearly as good as the old ones. Sad. The 10yr bourbon stands up much better to previous versions... We'll put out the full write-up in the next couple weeks...

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  3. Found one in Macon GA for 64 bucks. Felt like I was stealing something.

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    1. Hey with the price of whiskey these days, go for yours and don't feel bad. Was it the '14? What did you think?

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  4. I have an unopened bottle from an estate sale and dont know to drink it or see what its worth. Anybody got an idea for me? ...ptaylor1440 @gmail.com

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    1. Hi Paul, send us a note facebook.com/smokybeast with a picture of the bottle and we will do our best to value it for you. if you're not on facebook then reply here with an email address. best/SB

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  5. Just found a bottle 16A128 is this good ?

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  6. Just found a bottle 16A128 is this good ?

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    1. Haven't tried the 16. Let us know!!

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    2. I have tried the 16, I'm not very impressed. It's okay, but I struggle with the fact that I shelled out 150 for the bottle, when it tastes like watered down MGP rye. I'm not knocking mgp rye, but for 150 I was expecting something a little more special. I did just open the bottle, so maybe it needs a bit of time to open up.

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