Nose: Light wood, fresh dough, fresh washed mushrooms and a hint of smoke are all present. It reminded me of inhaling a fresh uncooked pizza about to go into a wood fired oven. Compared to the normal Michter’s US*1 Bourbon, the nose is much more prominent. The nose was so strong, that the moment I poured this bourbon into my glass sitting on the table I could smell it.
Palate: Honey, vanilla and light caramel jumped out at me with a subtle hint of smoke quickly appearing as I took that first sip. While not as sweet as their normal bourbon, it’s a very pleasant palate that seems a bit more refined than what you find in a sip of regular Michter’s US*1 Bourbon.
Finish: Surprisingly a strong sense of smoked wood was very present at the start of this finish, which reminded me of a light scotch in a sense. The smoke faded away and turned into aged oak, leather, and light traces of pepper, which ramped up in heat the longer the finish went on. Unlike the regular Michter’s US*1 Bourbon, this finish seemed to linger in my mouth for a while which was a really pleasant surprise.
Uniqueness: While I find the normal Michter’s US*1 Bourbon tastes like it hasn’t spent much time in the barrel, the additional 26 days in a toasted oak barrel made a world of difference to this bourbon. I was really surprised at how much of a smoky overall flavor profile this bourbon took on. While other distillers have finished their bourbon in either new charred oak barrels (Woodford Double Oaked) or in used wine barrels (High West, Heaven Hill, etc.), this is the first time I can recall a bourbon being barreled in a toasted barrel. Unlike normal charred oak barrels that are exposed to high heat for a short burst of time of a minute or less, these barrels were exposed to heat via the burning of the same wood that comprised the staves on the barrel itself. This unique long exposure to a lower heat really imparted a nice flavor profile on this bourbon.
Value: This bourbon is priced at a premium of $50 which is usually the going rate for a barrel finished bourbon these days, no matter the distiller. That being said, I find the normal Michter’s at $40 to be overpriced by about $15. While good, I still have the same feelings on this Toasted Barrel Finish release and feel this is more in line with a $40 Bourbon.
It’s a fine bourbon, and certainly better than the normal Michter’s. However, if I were to spend $50 on a bottle of bourbon, I’d sooner recommend a bottle of Blanton’s for the same price or Elijah Craig 12 or Four Roses Single Barrel for much less. This is especially true when you consider Michter’s sources their bourbon and gives very little information of the origin of what you’re drinking.
Overall: This toasted barrel surprised me on many fronts. Coming into this review I was expecting a lot of wood to be present in this bourbon. Instead, I was surprised at how much smoke was imparted into this bourbon from the toasting of the second barrel it was finished in. Additionally I was surprised at how much it transformed the normally young tasting Regular Michter’s US*1 Bourbon into a bourbon that tastes like it sat in the barrel for another year or two. The toasted finish definitely imparted a much more rounded flavor profile to this bourbon which makes it very drinkable.
While I still feel this is slightly overpriced for what it is, I would certainly recommend the toasted barrel finish version over the regular version of Michter’s US*1 Bourbon any day.
To sum it up: A really interesting bourbon that tends to stand out from the rest in a crowded marketplace of barrel finished bourbons.
-Jordan - Reviewed: 10/2014
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