May 2, 2013

Review: Michter's 1753 10-Year Bourbon - The Most Shocking and Scandalous SmokyBeast Post Ever!!

"What's Your Favorite Bourbon?"

It starts out innocently enough.  Two sets of parents on a playdate.  Dad finds out you write a whiskey blog, furrows his brow, and in the spirit of conversation poses a question.  "So...  What's your favorite bourbon?"

This is the type of question at which all whiskey writers cringe.  There are so many great bourbons out there.  Dare I pick one?  Will the serious aficionados of the world laugh me out of the room for picking something unworthy?  

Then there are the qualifiers: Are we talking best value for the money?  Best taste overall?  Should this be a whiskey for special occasions or an everyday bottle?  Or some hidden gem that will prove my upper echelon whiskey insider-osity?  Should I be conducting weeks of blind tastings to refine my answer based on technical categories and palate profiles? 

What Do You Crave?

No.  Forget all that.  No one cares.  When people ask me this question it's because they know I sample a lot of different whiskeys and they want to know what I crave.  

I'm reflecting on that moment at my office.  It's ten minutes to five and while my corporeal form remains in front of the computer, my spirit is already flying home to loftier pursuits.  I know that I'll get to spend an hour or two with my toddler.  We'll probably dance a little bit (she heard Mumford & Sons on Pandora recently and went nuts for it).  She'll have her favorite dinner: homemade mac & cheese with peas.  And I know that she'll go to sleep around 7:30 and I'll be headed for a drink.

It's getting warm out which means that after my typical winter hibernation in a cave of single malt scotch, I'm going to have a bourbon.  As I'm on my way home today, I'm not thinking about which bottle in my bar has the highest sticker price.  It's money spent.  I'm not thinking about which won the most awards this year or which is the most elusive and difficult to find.  I couldn't care less.  

The fact is that the decision has already been made.  My mind has already skipped past the Pappy and the Hirsch, the Craigs and the Taylors, the Buffalos and the Black Maple Hills.  In my mind I'm already pouring a glass of my favorite bourbon... drum-roll please... Michter's 10-Year.

My Favorite Bourbon

I crave it.  I can picture its lovely dark color swirling in my best crystal tumbler.  To be honest, my mouth is watering a little bit right now just thinking about it. I can taste the brown sugar, the vanilla, the leather and wood, the cocoa.  There's just something about it that has all other bourbon beat.

A Dose of Reality

Ok we know it's another NDP (non-distiller producer) brand.  It's probably made at Heaven Hill.  It's just got a different label on it.  Yada yada yada.  You know what?  I don't care.  It tastes great.  Maybe it's the recipe, or the special little spot in the warehouse where it earns its stripes.  It doesn't matter.  You can't second guess bourbon.  You just sip it and see where it takes you.  There's some magic going on there.

Tasting Notes

Appearance:  Look at it.  Soak in the dark caramel color.  Live it.  Love it.  And remember that bourbon by law can contain no additives or artificial coloring.  That's the years of charred oak, the brutal Kentucky summers and those cool southern nights you're looking at.

Nose:  Starbucks Frappuccino with extra caramel and whipped cream.  Sweet toffee, mocha, vanilla.  A freshly opened box of raisins.  Then the deep oak, char, tobacco, and leather.  There's something else, a little hint of pink rock salt.  FInally a healthy dose of candied orange rind.

Body:  A lot of spices hitting at once.  Nutmeg, fennel seed, cinnamon, little bursts of lemon essence and grapefruit.  Add a little water and..  just kidding, you'd have to be nuts to add water to this.  It's perfect at 94 proof.  The molasses and vanilla are most intense here filling the mouth with sweet corn and brown butter.

Finish:  A very fast finish.  What does this mean exactly?  Well with some whiskey the finish moves slowly, staying hot for a few seconds and then turning gradually into smoke or sweetness.  Here the pleasant bourbon burn is gone as soon as you open your lips.  There's little sweetness on the aftertaste, it's mostly smoke and spice.  Rosemary comes out and hot pepper, campfire and cigar tobacco.


If you can find Michter's 10-Year Bourbon in a liquor store in NYC, it's probably around $95.  We see it online, though not from any of our standard reputable sources, for as low as $75, but that's probably due to usurious shipping rates.  The regular Michter's is great too and can be found easily.  Is the Ten Year worth a hundred bucks?  I don't know.  Yes.  If Pappy 23 is worth $250, then triple yes.  With Blanton's and Four Roses Single Barrel in the $40-$50 range, then maybe not.  It's a crazy jumbled up mixed up world of bourbon out there.  This is still this hubby's favorite.

Tell me I'm crazy, leave a note and let us know what you think of this scandalous beast.

Good drinking.  /sb


  1. Drink what you love, love what you drink. I wouldn't exactly call this post "scandalous." It's the opinion of one guy. Michter's isn't my favorite, but that's not because I'm some bourbon snob arguing that it shouldn't even count. Good juice is good juice. Let the elitists argue the merits of this stuff while the rest of us enjoy a dram.

  2. The best bourbon is the least expensive one you enjoy.

    1. We will admit to drinking Jim Beam when circumstances dictate (and none of the special stuff - straight white label!!), and it's quite enjoyable. Shhh...

  3. I 1,000% agree with you! There is just something exciting about it that no other bourbon has! I've never been able to put my finger on it, but you've done about as good a job of explaining it as is possible. Is it mathematically the best bourbon in the world? I dunno, probably not.. Does my heart skip a beat the moment it hits my nose it? Absolutely! It's just alive! Best way I could explain it: Michter's 10 Yr is the reason I love bourbon summed up in one glass.

    1. Heh, just reading your comment makes me want to pour another glass!

  4. I hate it when I come across a bourbon that renders my entire collection undrinkable.

    1. I was just talking about this the other day. I used to like Outback until I started going to NYC Steakhouses. I used to like Jameson. Oh who am I kidding, I still shoot Jameson, but I don't feel like I'm treating myself to the good stuff anymore when I do!

  5. I have a couple of bottles in my meager collection at the moment... sequential barrel numbers even! I have yet to open one and enjoy. Maybe here soon I'll open one up and give it a try. I certainly enjoy the hell out of the Michters US1 small batch bourbon already... such a mild body and wonderfully buttery finish!

  6. It's hands down the best bourbon on the market if you can get your hands on it.articles like this make it even more difficult for people like myself to walk past the pappy line and go how many mitchers do you have? Yep I'll take them all.

  7. just not that good...