It’s time to review the 2017 Michter’s 10yr Rye.
I’m going to get straight to the point and break from the normal format of an Epic Bourbon review and lay down my initial thoughts up front in simple terms. The 2017 Michter’s 10yr Rye is really, really good. Is that simple enough? As I sit here right now sipping it, typing, sipping, typing, I keep coming back to one of my favorite elements about this pour: It’s so smooth. SO SMOOTH. Unquestionably smooth. It’s an old, subtle quality, and one that’s often underappreciated.
Years ago my grand-dad would sit back and preach the virtues of a good glass of whiskey, the one he could sip and enjoy on a summer afternoon as the sun was setting behind the big willow tree, smoking his old pipe; the little bag of tobacco hanging from his shirt pocket. One foot was on the ground pushing the tired, squeaky old yard swing gently back and forth, the other propped up on a crate or his old farm hound. “The whiskey in your glass should complement the moment” he would say with particular emphasis on the last three words. He was big on moments of relaxation. Looking down from his perch high on the Walnut Ridge, above the rows of corn that would be destined for one of the distilleries, the old barns filled with tobacco, he would appreciate that sunset. The river rolled lazily nearby, the water lapping the sandy banks in a rhythm. Cicadas humming in the trees would rise and fall from forte to pianissimo as the wind ran its invisible fingers through the hemlock and river birch branches. Smooth moments, enjoyed with fine smooth whiskey.
That’s where we come in with the 2017 Michter’s 10yr Rye. A fine, smooth whiskey for enjoying during relaxing moments. Or any moments, frankly.
I’d been eagerly anticipating the new M10 Rye from the moment that I’d spoken with new Master Distiller Pam Heilmann, when she said, “I’m primarily a rye person.” That’s pretty much throwing down the gauntlet, and I took it as promise that the 2017 release would be even better than the 2016, which I thought was awesome. Furthermore, this bottle represents a new regime at Michter’s. While Willie Pratt will cast a long shadow for years to come, this is Pam’s show now, and the bottles that are coming out are a direct reflection of her tastes.
But the devil is in the details. So how did the 2017 M10 Rye stand up? To find out, I drank it a lot on my own, and with friends. I scribbled lots of notes, so here we go….
My bottle comes from Barrel 17A34.
After uncorking, there were a lot of Ooo’s and Ahh’s. The aroma jumps right out of the bottle and fills the room with all kinds of decadent scents. It’s as if someone filled a huge fireplace bellows full of sugary goodness, bakery sweets and cinnamon spices, and then heaved and pumped it up and down.
The nose is just splendid. Its caramel and cocoa. But the main component to me, is of dark fruits, some bit of plum, but mostly dried fig. It’s very fig forward. I love dried fig; luscious and sweating with natural sugar sweetness. There is also a touch of minty pipe tobacco swirling around. Surprisingly, after spending a half-score in the barrel, I didn’t pick up on any big doses of oak, though there is a smokiness to the flavor. A yummy baked grain component rounds out the nose thanks to the rye, which gives the aroma a Fig Newton quality. (The well-to-do English kid responds cheekily, “It’s not a cookie mother, it’s Michter’s 10yr Rye.”)
The sip is, once again, smooth. SMOOOOTH! It’s the Yacht Rock of rye. I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s got all the classic rye hallmarks. A nice thick consistency. A nice mild touch of cinnamon, cooled by a creamy vanilla, and a tiny dash of cocoa. There is a very subtle, sweetness akin to fresh forest honey, the kind that has just come straight out of the heart of an oak tree, so the flavor is a little more woody than cloying, but with an overtone of floral softness derived from the humid fields of Midwestern wildflowers the bees toiled in all day. Finally, I picked up on a fresh, citrusy splash, owing itself to the floral notes no doubt.
At 92.8 proof it’s not overwhelming with heat, and the alcohol content accents the flavor at the right point, making for a nice, composed sip. The finish is a nice, warm simmer. A back of the throat that ebbs and flows in intensity.
The post-nose is rich with brown sugar. The figgy tobacco really shines through again, along with a dollop of buttery oak.
My final measuring stick for how good a bourbon or rye is, is watching how quickly it disappears. In the case of the 2017 Michter’s 10yr Rye, there is almost none left. I have hit this bottle, literally every night. I’ve shared it with family, friends and neighbors. It’s been a good friend that I’m sad to see going.
Grand-dad would have loved the 2017 Michter’s 10yr Rye. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. I think you will too.
Michter’s 10 Year Rye is available March 2017, with a retail price of $150. Get it!