Michter's US*1 straight rye whiskey review
Rye whiskey is a traditional spirit with a complex flavour profile and lots of variation to explore. Read our expert review of the straight rye from Michter’s.
Michter’s US*1 straight rye (42.4% ABV)
Star rating: 5/5
Back in 1753 John Shenk founded the country’s first whiskey company, Shenk’s. The Swiss Mennonite farmer founded the business in Pennsylvania and began distilling with rye, along with nearly every other two armed man in Pennsylvania.
The company was later known as Bomberger’s and is now operating as Michter’s. Michter’s’ history is inextricably tied up with that of America.
The story goes that General George Washington bought up supplies of the company’s whiskey during the Revolutionary War, using the nectar to galvanise and fortify his men – the distillery now pride themselves on being ‘the whiskey that warmed the American Revolution.’
The Michter’s narrative matches up well with the millions of American dreams we’ve been sold in the cinema over the years, the distillery has gone bust and come back fighting on a number of occasions, rising like a phoenix following the prohibition era and the difficult 1980s.
Now the company is healthier than ever with three locations in Kentucky among other properties. The distillery is now churning out some of the continent's best small batch offerings with their Sour Mash expression a particular favourite.
One of Michter’s mottos is ‘cost be damned’ and this approach has served them well. There’s no skimping in the interest of maximising profits – perhaps the best example of the produce over profit approach is the use of heat cycling.
The more a barrel expands and contracts, the more flavour is imparted on the whiskey. These expansions and contractions come with the temperature of the seasons, Michter’s manipulate this with the heat in their distillery.
Although this increases the angel’s share (whiskey lost to evaporation), it helps maximise the flavours imparted from the oak.
After maturing, the distillery chill filters its whiskey but tailors each filtration system to the style of whiskey, as opposed to using a one-size-fits-all approach. Despite the costs, this helps reduce the loss of taste and aromas.
The Michter’s US*1 straight rye’s nose is made up of gentle pepper behind a lump of caramel – if the caramel was made with peat, as opposed to salt, and was later rolled around in charcoal.
The palate is a well balanced party of citrus and pepper. The citrus comes smoked and dried out, as if you’re chewing orange peel jerky, whilst caramel lifts the palate with a welcome sweetness that stays the right side of saccharine. The finish is lingering and spicy, leaning more toward chilli than black pepper.
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This review was last updated in June 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.