Cigar Aficionado

Michter’s Plans Own Distillery in Louisville

The fabled Michter's brand of bourbon and rye finally gets a new home.

Michter's is a whiskey brand that has historical roots that delve back as far as 1753 and includes possible connections to George Washington's wintering his troops at Valley Forge, but it in past decades it hasn't had a home of its own. That is about to change as the current owner of the brand is set begin an $8 million restoration of a building in Louisville, Kentucky, that will distill Michter's as well as acting as a visitor's center.

The original Michter's distillery in Schaefferstown Pennsylvania, was shuttered in 1989, however Bourbon that had been made there continued to be released under the name A.H. Hirsch. In the late 1990s, Michter's American Whiskey Co. of Bardstown, Kentucky, a division of Chatham Imports, bought the trademark and began marketing several straight ryes and Bourbons. However, the whiskey bottled under the Michter's trademark has been sourced through other distilleries so far.

The renovation will restore the Romanesque cast-iron-and-brick Fort Lee building, which dates to the 1870s and is currently boarded up. Neighbors of the building include the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The distillery will include stills custom made for Michter's by Vendome Copper & Brass Works, a Louisville maker of stills used worldwide. The design of the copper pot stills will made with the input of the master distiller Willie Pratt, whose illustrious whiskey career included the restoration of the Labrot & Graham stillhouse as the current Woodford Reserve distillery.

Of course, it will be some time before we will actually sample the product of the new distillery as Michter's line includes whiskies as old as 10 and 25 years. In the meantime, visitors will be able tour the facilities, which will include a tasting room and gift shop.




Michter's Small Batch Bourbon

Batch No. 11-159

91.4 proof (45.7 percent alcohol)

Appearance: The color is a deep caramel and its legs are excruciatingly slow.

Nose: The heady nose smacks of maple, caramel toffee vanilla and butterscotch.

Palate: Comes on very sweet and flavorful with notes of maple candy, vanilla and butter scotch, although it remains quite smooth.

Finish: The caramel especially lingers on quite a bit.


Michter's Single Barrel Bourbon 10 Years Old

Barrel No. 110-5

94.4 proof (47.2 percent alcohol)

Appearance: Another deep amber color. Medium-width tear-drop legs take forever to release.

Nose: Again, this whiskey has a very maple bouquet. This time it is joined by hardwood and olive oil.

Palate: The maple candy persists on the palate, where we also find toast, licorice, walnuts, fruit and olive oil. Obviously, a quite complex whiskey.

Finish: Nuts and olive meet fruit on the finish in an interesting combination of savory and sweet.


Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye 10 Years Old

Barrel No. 9L-2

92.8 proof (46.4 percent alcohol)

Appearance: Medium amber in color, its legs are fat and slow.

Nose: It smells like eucalyptus layered over honey and peach.

Palate: Tastes like an apple pie made with cinnamon and licorice. Eucalyptus returns on the mid palate for a pleasant little ride we're dying to try in a Manhattan.

Finish: The whiskey kind of splays out on the finish, belying its spice front to become a little fruity and sweet.


Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye 25 Years Old

Barrel No. 102

117.3 proof (58.65 percent alcohol)

Appearance: The color is exceedingly dark, a deep amber, verging on chocolate. Drips down the glass slow and thick.

Nose: A mighty aroma of tantalizing caramel, butterscotch, vanilla and fruit is beguiling.

Palate: It explodes with tang in the mouth, with the first thrush being licorice. As it calms it turns to fruitier flavors with some wood. Quite a challenging mouthful.

Finish: Fruit really comes on at the finish with some nuts rather deep into the finale.


Michter's Unblended American Whiskey

83.4 proof (41.7 percent alcohol)

Appearance: This whiskey is made using previously used barrels. Hence it is not a straight whiskey as other reviewed here are. Furthermore its color is markedly lighter. Its fat legs are rather quick once they release.

Nose: The very floral nose is reminiscent of Irish whiskey.

Palate: Hard candy is overawning flavor here with butterscotch and a bit of tutti-fruiti.

Finish: The finish is short as it snaps closed with a bit of tartness.