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Cigar Spirits: Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey

14 Nov 2013

Michter’s is special name in American whiskey because the Michter’s Distillery in Pennsylvania made some great whiskey back in the day. The distillery closed in 1988, though there is still a tiny amount of bourbon from that distillery available for sale in the form of A.H. Hirsch—which cost around $100 a bottle when I wrote about it in 2008, and now will cost you around ten times as much because it is so rare.

michters-sour-mashLike the Hirsch Reserve bourbon my colleague wrote about earlier this year, this Michter’s whiskey has nothing to do with the Michter’s Distillery except the name. The new Michter’s is planning on opening a distillery in Kentucky but, for now, it sources its whiskey from others and doesn’t disclose its providers.

Sour mash refers to the process, rather than the specific mashbill like rye or bourbon. (In fact, both rye and bourbon can, and are, made with a sour mash style, with the most famous being Jack Daniel’s.) Sour Mash simply means that each batch uses part of the fermented mash from the previous batch.

While details are hard to come by, reportedly Michter’s Sour Mash uses the same recipe as an old product from the Pennsylvanian distillery: 50% rye, 38% corn, and 12% barley. That recipe (with only 50% corn, as opposed to 51%) would make it neither bourbon nor rye. Contrary to what some think, Sour Mash doesn’t mean a sour flavor.

Michter’s Sour Mash shows a dark amber color when poured straight. The nose features muted candied fruit, yeasty bread, and a bit of ripe red apple.

On the palate it’s a very unique profile with muted apple, bread, red fruit, tea, oak  and—remarkably for the 50% rye in the mashbill—only a subtle hint of spice. The finish is very clean with more fresh oak and subtle fruit.

At $40 a bottle, there are better values in American whiskey, but Michter’s Sour Mash earns points for it’s unique, enjoyable taste.

It lacks the intensity to pair with a full-bodied cigar, so stick with medium-bodied or mild smokes. I particularly enjoyed La Palina Classic, Aging Room M21, and a 15-year-old P.G. Gourmet with this unique American whiskey.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

One Response to “Cigar Spirits: Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey”

  1. Lionel Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Sounds pretty good.