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Stogie Spirits: A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16-Year-Old Bourbon

2 Dec 2008

When it comes to top shelf bourbon, A.H. Hirsh holds a special place in the hearts of many connoisseurs. With every sip of the stuff, there’s a little less of it around that can never be replaced. Literally.

A.H. Hirsh is the last of the bourbon made at Michter’s Distillery in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. Today, a series of whiskey is made under the Michter’s name, but none of it comes from the original Pennsylvania distillery.

Originally distilled in 1974, A.H. Hirsch is the oldest pot stilled bourbon available in the U.S., at least since the 20-year-old version sold out. Today it is distributed by Preiss Imports, which bought all the remaining reserves of the Michter’s Distillery when the historic Pennsylvania site went bankrupt in 1988.

Given those limited reserves, it is no surprise that A.H. Hirsch is quite expensive and getting pricier every year. Two years ago bottles were available for around $80. Today, with decreasing supply and Preiss’s decision to raise the wholesale price as their reserves dwindle, expect to pay well over $100 for a 750 ml bottle.

The 34 year old bourbon—after 16 years it was transferred to steel barrels to stop it from aging any further, hence “16-year-old”—comes highly praised. According to renowned F. Paul Pecult’s The Spirit Journal, A.H. Hirsch is the only bourbon to receive the “5-Star” rating.

With all that high praise I, needless to say, was excited to try this bourbon. After pouring a few fingers of the copper-colored spirit, I was greeted with an abundance of vanilla.

The bourbon is refined and balanced with tons of oak and fruit and hints of mint, walnut, and maple syrup. The finish is long and spicy, with pepper, oak, and cedar. While the nose is strong straight out of the bottle, just a drop of water opens up the flavors, letting apricot and other subtle notes shine through. I would not, however, recommend spoiling this spirit with ice.

When it comes to pairing the A.H. Hirsh 16-Year-Old Reserve with cigars, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with any good stick. For me a cigar with an abundance of cedar, such as the Montecristo Petit Edmundo or a Fuente Sun Grown, do particularly well. I should say, though, that such earthy cigars as an EO 601 Green or a Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Rubusto also paired well.

Ultimately for bourbon lovers, of which I consider myself one, I would suggest getting your hands on some A.H. Hirsch. If the prospect of dropping a Benjamin on a bottle of bourbon is too much for you, find a good establishment with Hirsch on their spirit list and drop the $20 for a pour. It’ll be well worth the opportunity to taste this historic bourbon before it is too late.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

10 Responses to “Stogie Spirits: A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16-Year-Old Bourbon”

  1. furious Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 4:48 am #

    I have been wanting to pull the trigger on this bourbon for a long time but haven't had the moxie to part with now well over a C-note for the pleasure. Perhaps I will gather the courage in a moment of Christmas spending weakness at my local liquor superstore. Great review.

  2. Jon Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    For another $20 bottle of good cigar-matching spirits, try Bacardi 8 yrs. old rum.

  3. CWS Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    Whiskey vs. cigars – in this economy, I opted to cut back on the whiskey. However, I found a little inexpensive gem in Clontarf Irish Whiskey. It’s only $19 at most liquor stores. In no way does it taste like a cheap whiskey – it’s fantastic. Very smooth with hints of honey. Goes well with just about any cigar.

    That all being said – somehow I’d like to get my hands on some Hirsch. Thanks for the review . . .

  4. Rich Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 6:14 am #

    I discovered Hirsch several years ago when you could still buy it for under $60. Back then there were a number of bourbons that I don't see anymore such as Hentry Clay, which at the time cost about 30% more than the Hirsch.

    Since then I've purchased a few and get one each Christmas as a gift from someone who obviously likes me. I just finished one bottle around the holidays and have two unopened ones waiting.

    My problem is that I rarely can bring myself to drink it. Patrick S's observation that with every sip there's less around that will never be replaced is very keen. Someday when I find that there's none available anywhere at any price my extreme "marginal propensity to consume" behavior will really take over and I'll probably leave at least half a bottle to my heirs.

  5. john rofrano Friday, April 22, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    any idea as to where it can be purchased.

  6. Esprada Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    FFOX Power Ranger goes great with the AH Hirsch 16 year old Gold Foil, albeit the FFOX is a medium-full bodied smoke as you make your way to the last third. All in all, when i was sipping on it before even reading any other post, i thought a good woody/cedar type of stogie will match. As i write this, a bottle can go for 250 to 800, not for certain how much of it is left anymore.

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