The Best Bourbon in the World: Stellar Michter's 10 Year

The Best Bourbon in the World: Stellar Michter's 10 Year
Courtesy of Food & Wine

In 2021, an exceptional annual release was reviewed.

Last year, Michter's set a record for the sale of a barrel of its Kentucky Straight Bourbon 10 Year, which sold at auction for £166,000 ($209,464) at auction in London, a price well documented in the whiskey world. It is a pretty big sum of money to spend on bourbon, even an entire barrel of it, particularly if it is one that is usually as good as this annual bottling.

Just last May, Michter's 10 Year Old Bourbon was released to the market for the 2021 season, and while you won't have to pay 200 grand for a bottle, if you happen to come across it in your local liquor store, you'll likely find it going for well over its retail price of $150. Thus, all of this leads us to the question of whether or not this is worth the investment?

As a matter of fact, the answer to this question is entirely subjective, so it depends entirely on your desire to acquire limited-edition whiskeys as well as what means you have available to you.

The 2021 release is rather delicious, however do you want to spend a few hundred dollars on this bottle when you could find comparable aged bourbon for less than $100? Should you decide to purchase this bottle, you will not be disappointed. It is the same as previous releases, a single barrel expression that is bottled at a proof level of 94.4. I have to point out that the liquid here is sourced, because the bourbon being produced and aged at Michter's distillery has not yet reached a decade of maturation. Nevertheless, Andrea Wilson and her team were able to carefully control the interaction between whiskey and wood by storing the barrels in its heat-cycled warehouses.

Managing barrel selection has been handled by master distiller Dan McKee, and he has done an excellent job so far. There is a rich bouquet of vanilla and caramel notes on the nose, with a hint of peach in the middle, which is followed by a palate that offers notes of maraschino cherry, grape soda, white chocolate, butterscotch shell, and a blend of menthol and char, which rises and falls on the finish.

There may be a single-barrel release of a 10-year-old whiskey someday, at least in whiskey years, distilled at Michter’s, probably at the main Shively distillery or maybe even at the small Fort Nelson distillery on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville, at some point in the not so distant future. I think it will be fascinating to compare flavors at a distillery that is moving from contract distillation to its own whiskey, or is continuing to do both at the same time.

When a distillery releases a single barrel, the process becomes even more complex, since each barrel differs from the next slightly (or profoundly) and a distillery has to decide whether they want to replicate the whiskey they have been releasing or if they want to embark on a completely new endeavor. There can be no doubt that Michter’s has a bright future ahead of it, but even so, I recommend enjoying this bottle in the present, or even saving a bottle to compare with a Michter’s single barrel release a decade in the future.

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