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View Full Version : Michters "NEW" bottling-any info about this one?



Veevee
03-30-2003, 12:41
I did a search on Michter's here on the boards, and there was relatively little info-actually, there is a goodly amount of info available about Michter's, quite informative, really.
however, I was wondering about the "new" bottling, the one that someone posted pictures of under a "favorite bottle style" thread. The pictures are nice, the bottles are very alluring, at least to my taste. So much so that I'm considering picking up one of the last bottles available here at a store where I've seen it.
This is what I know about it-nice bottle, color, etc., and I also understand it's a limited run of product, maybe even a one-off project that's already pretty much gone? At least I think I heard that.
Can anybody here offer any more info about it, including any tasting notes and impressions?

Thanks
Christopher
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robbyvirus
03-30-2003, 13:12
Michter's had a booth at the Whiskey Expo in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately it was the last booth I hit, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on the story of this company. As I recall they had 3 or 4 products for sale, one called "American Whiskey", one bourbon, a rye, and one other. I only tried the "American Whiskey" and the bourbon, and was not too impressed, but like I said it was the end of the day and my powers of tasting were probably severly compromised at that point. But this brand is definitely available for retail sale in the US.

Gillman
03-30-2003, 13:25
The bottling you are referring to was issued by someone who clearly has obtained the right to use the Michter's name, but the whiskey was not made at Michter's which closed finally some 20 years ago. It is not clear where the whiskey was made, one might call it neo-Michter's.

This neo-Michter's comes in at least two forms: one a straight rye the other a bourbon.

Michter's when it operated in Schaeffersville, PA did not release under the "Michter's" brand name a straight rye or bourbon. (However it did release at least once, in a Michter's-identified decanter, a special long-aged whiskey it called "rye whiskey").

Under the Michter name the distillery sold, "Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey" in which neither the corn nor the rye exceeded 50%. It also made straight rye (as noted above) which was sold to Overholt's and Wild Turkey for a time or sold by the distillery under brand names other than Michter's.

Before Prohibtion however, Michter's made only straight rye, so this new bottling (the one in the stylish bottle you are referring to) is intended to recall that older, original Michter's.

Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey was a kind of quasi-rye, so we are in Michter's territory either way.

The Hirsch Bourbon uses the term bourbon to describe what I believe was Michter's Original Sour Mash distilled in 1974. The label information states clearly the whiskey was made at Michter's in 1974. I have no problem with calling it bourbon, 50% is close enough, and maybe this particular '74 batch really had 51% or more corn, I don't know.

I do know the Hirsch Michter's, released in 16 and 20 year old forms, is exceedingly good. However when Michter's Original Sour Mash was sold it was never aged that long but sold at about 4-6 years old. So, neither the Hirsch nor the current Michter's Straight Rye really approximates what the 4-6 year old Michter's Original Sour Mash was like. I believe some list members have original bottles of this whiskey and might offer some taste notes if inclined.

So, the Hirsch is a super-luxury version, in other words. I'd like to think the people that ran Michter's in the 70's kept back older casks for themselves and friends and that this long-aged whiskey tasted like the Hirsch.

Getting back to the current Michter's Straight Rye and Bourbon in the stylish bottle, I have only had the rye. Again, I don't know who made it and believe this information has not been made public.

This rye was, according to the label, supposed to reflect what the pre-Prohibition Michter's was like. It is good, but a little rough at the edges to my taste.

I don't know if this new Michter label, based in Kentucky, will continue to release Michter-brand whiskey. I hope they do because it is great to see the name remembered, and perhaps their rye in time will acquire some of the finesse of, say, the Van Winkle ryes. And maybe they will put out the Original Sour Mash Whiskey recipe that Michter's used from the early 1950's to about '82. The mash bill was 50% corn, 38% rye, the rest barley malt.

By the way, when Michter's started up again after 1933 (the start-up was delayed in fact until the early 1950's), Louis Forman who owned the business and the distiller, one of the Beam family to whom Bettye Jo is related and of whom she has posted interesting notes here, decided not to make a straight rye under the Michter's name. They went for an original sour mash whiskey recipe, and it was great, and a great pity that Michter's closed.

The above information is gleaned from Michael Jackson's chapter on Michter's in his 1988 "World Guide To Whiskey", as supplemented by information obtained in online research.

Cy

cowdery
03-30-2003, 14:17
They were at Whiskeyfest this past week in Chicago too. I forget the name of the company, identified as an importer, that now owns the rights to the Michter's name. They make no claim that they are using Michter-made whiskey. Instead their material talked in terms of "honoring the Michter's tradition." That sort of thing. They had four products: 10 yr. old single barrel bourbon, 10 yr. old single barrel rye, US-1 single barrel straight rye and US-1 small batch. I'm just copying that from the Whiskeyfest program. I, too, got to that table late in the day and just glanced at it, without sampling anything. Sorry.

Gillman
03-30-2003, 14:44
Chuck, on the front label of the Michter's 10 years Old Straight Rye, it says, "distilled according to the Michter's pre-Revolutionary War quality standards". On the back, it says, "distilled according to the Michter's tradition". And, that the rye, "has a special flavour that we are proud to share with you" (interesting use of the current lingo, 'to share'). This is vague but I believe there is some attempt being made to replicate, not Michter's Original Sour Mash, but Michter's of pre-1919 (known for much of its life as Bomberger Distillery).

Cy

bobbyc
03-30-2003, 16:45
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Louis Forman who owned the business and the distiller, one of the Beam family to whom Bettye Jo is related

[/QUOTE]

Charles Everett Beam

boone
03-30-2003, 17:13
I saw Uncle Everett's name and went to my files ta find his mashbill's...

I have a lot of his writings...He worked and retired from Michters for 40+ years...There was a interuption in his employment with them...His mom, Katie McGill Beam, was gravely ill. She asked that he come home so she could have him by her side in the last days...He moved the entire family back to Kentucky to be by her side...He worked as a pipefitter while here in Kentucky...She passed away...He packed the family and moved back to PA...as Master Distiller...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm Name a company that would let you do that now! There ain't none http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

Gillman
03-30-2003, 18:16
Very interesting, Bettye Jo. The three whiskeys described clearly are, in order, bourbon whiskey, corn whiskey and rye whiskey. No mention here of 50% corn, 38% rye, remainder barley malt. My information about the mash bill for Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey comes from Michael Jackson's "World Guide To Whisky" (1988). Michael had visited Michter's in the mid-80's and reported the mash bill I mentioned. I wonder if these notes might be describing Mr. Beam's approach to making these three classic straight whiskeys as opposed to describing what he made at Michter's, or made regularly at any rate. Possibly Michter's made different straight whiskies: the original Sour Mash for a distinctive house whiskey; rye to sell to Wild Turkey and Overholt's; bourbon maybe to sell to the trade also (and maybe this is what Hirsch ended up with). Sounds like you got a treasure trove of information there. I for one would love to see more, because I find Michter's a fascinating story, a bridge from the earliest localised rye whiskey to the modern internationally famous Kentucky bourbon...

Cy

boone
03-30-2003, 19:48
The writings of my Uncle Everett cover a massive about of history that took place...That is part of a letter that he wrote to Michters vying for a job http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif ....At the end of the letter it says....I wrote this letter to Michters Inc. the oldest distillery in the U.S.A. established 1753 and still in operation at the same site, recently to the new owners, who are unfamiliar with the industry. They verified all I said and I am in the process of setting up a small operation for them.

It's signed

C.E. Beam

You make a point to mention that they did not sell the rye there?...I have pictures of him in front of a barrel of rye whiskey...He is shaking the hand of a unidentified man...the barrels states...Pennco Distiller's Inc. of Penna DSP PA 17 Schaefferstown, PA RYE WHISKEY SER. NO. 50000 FILLED Oct. 10 1961 O.P.G. 544 O.P. 109 O.T. 93---He was the Master Distiller....He also made rye whiskey under the C.E. Beam label...I have the label...

http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

cowdery
03-30-2003, 21:36
Don't kid yourself. They ain't makin' nothin'. I'll bet you dollars to donuts it's Heaven Hill whiskey in those bottles.

Barrel_Proof
03-30-2003, 22:28
Today, the Michter's distillery is yet another assumed name of Even Kulsveen's Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.

One can learn a good deal from the the KY Sec. of State's corporate entity search engine. This thread describes how to use it: Kentucky Secretary of State Search Engine (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&amp;Board=General&amp;Number=12363&amp;page= 6&amp;view=collapsed&amp;sb=5&amp;o=&amp;fpart=1).

The Michter's in the distinctive new bottles, however, began to appear a couple of years ago when the name was assumed by Commonwealth Distillery, which was Julian Van Winkle's company at the time.

My bottle of Michter's Bourbon dates from Julian's assumption of the name, and is marked Barrel No. 3, Lawrenceburg.

It would be interesting to learn about the people marketing the whiskies at the festivals now and about the origin of the current stock. Did Julian sell the whiskey to Even? Did Even just acquire rights to the name and bottle something that differs from the Barrel No. 3 whiskey from Lawrenceburg? Who is behind the name now? Are these Even's marketing folks? New players entirely?

If able, please shed light on these mysteries.

Gillman
03-30-2003, 23:44
No kidding here. I realize fully this is a merchant's label releasing a whiskey made by one of the existing distilleries. I suppose ten years ago they could have said to HH or someone else, "make for me a whiskey with these characteristics". What I am hoping is that this Michter's label will at some point request the distillery making the liquor to use the mashbill reported by Michael Jackson for "Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey".

Cy

Gillman
03-30-2003, 23:51
Thanks, Bettye Jo. I do recall that photo you posted earlier showing barrels of rye whiskey made by Pennco. I know that Pennco/Michter's made rye whiskey, they made it to supply to Wild Turkey and for a time Old Overholt. What I meant was, that to my knowledge, Pennco did not sell a rye whiskey under the "Michter's" label. That brand name was, as far as I know, reserved for "Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey". I am aware of the C.E. Beam rye label and this shows rye whiskey was released by the distillery itself but again not under the "Michter" name. It appears the distillery also sold rye under the name "Kirk's". Your information about Charles Everett Beam is most interesting and keep it coming! (Now that I think on it, the Louis Forman I mentioned surely must be connected to the Forman in "Brown-Forman"?).

Cy

Gillman
03-31-2003, 00:02
Excellent questions. My bottle of current Michter's Straight Rye refers to Lawrenceburg too and I bought it two years ago. I felt Julian Van Winkle or Evan Kulsveen likely was behind the Michter's label venture, but as we know from trying to scope their other products, the true origin is an open question. The rye seems to me to be completely different to anything Julian has issued as rye to date. It tasted rather like Jim Beam Rye, I thought, but older (that feisty, aromatic, yellow-hued-type rye). Or maybe like Wild Turkey Rye. The company name reads, "Michter's American Whiskey Company, Lawrenceburg".

Cy

cowdery
03-31-2003, 15:18
There is a limit to what that database tells you. Even Kulsveen may have the DBA as far as the Secretary of State is concerned, which he has registered in his name for purposes of using his DSP and labeling a product as coming from "Michter's Distilling Company" or whatever. That merely proves the product is being bottled at Willett or, if you prefer, KBD Ltd., which is "doing business as" Michter's (or whomever) for that period of time.

That database does not tell you who actually owns the brand or who is marketing it (which is not Even in the case of Michter's, Corner Creek, Jefferson's Reserve, etc.) and it certainly doesn't tell you who actually made the whiskey.

You never will get anyone to confirm this, because it isn't in their interest to and we might as well accept that (I do), but in 9 cases out of 10, maybe 99 out of 100, you can safely assume that any whiskey you can't readily trace to another distillery almost certainly was made by Heaven Hill. If that were ever less true, it is now more true since they have a distillery again and, in fact, have a distillery that can pretty easily make whiskey to specifications. That plant in Louisville is the most modern whiskey distillery in the USA (opened in 1992) and is designed to make different whiskey formulas.

Although it's almost impossible to get anyone official at Heaven Hill to talk about this on the record, here's the deal, at least as much as I know. There are really two Heaven Hills. They are two separate businesses and while I don't know a lot about their inside workings, I know they don't have a lot of contact with each other and sometimes are even in conflict with each other.

These two parts go back many years. The part we know about is run by Max Shapira and is a conventional liquor company that makes and markets its own brands. As you may know, Heaven Hill makes a huge number of products in addition to bourbon, including a broad range of liqueurs. They also import and bottle scotch, tequila, Canadian, California brandy, etc. This is all for brands they own and market.

The other part of the business is run by a guy named Jeff Homel and sells bulk whiskey. Historically, they sold the whiskey to the customer when it came out of the still, then aged it for them for an additional fee. They used to do a lot of contract bottling too, but I think today they do little or none of that because they need all of their bottling capacity for their own products. Instead they sell bulk whiskey to people who then have somebody like Even bottle it for them. Brands like Michter's and Corner Creek are pretty small and don't make much of a dent in Heaven Hill's stock.

I say all this not to slam anyone. This is all perfectly legitimate business. There is also some whiskey floating around that is not from Heaven Hill, so you can never be 100% sure. What you can be pretty sure about is that if somebody discovered some great, old whiskey made at some wonderful historic distillery, we would hear that story. The fact that Julian VanWinkle has gone over to Buffalo Trace can be interpreted to mean that the whiskey he was using, from the Old Fitzgerald plant and other sources, is essentially exhausted. The whiskey he wants is at BT so that's where he made his deal. They apparently have sufficient bottling capacity to accommodate him, so it didn't make sense for him to maintain his own bottling plant and finished goods warehouse. In effect, he will be the boutique brand and contract bottling arm of BT.

As for these folks who are using the Michter's name, and again I don't mean this as a slam, I'm pretty confident they're just looking to see what they can get out of the Michter's name. I would find it very hard to believe that five or six years ago they commissioned someone to make whiskey to their specifications. I'm confident this is some standard formula, off-the-shelf whiskey, probably from Heaven Hill, that they are putting the Michter's name on.

Gillman
03-31-2003, 18:42
What is striking is the word "Lawrenceburg" is on my bottle of Michter's Straight Rye Whiskey. This would suggest (unless an "intentional" mislead) the whiskey is from Wild Turkey or even Seagram's. It reminds me, this rye, of Wild Turkey's rye, that yellow-hued, husky taste. It could be the same source though as Pikesville but maybe older (Pikesville is not 10 years old, maybe half that). But why "Lawrenceburg", then?

jeff
03-31-2003, 18:44
But doesn't all of Julian's whiskey have a Lawrenceburg address on the bottle? This is probably just the address of the business office and not the distillery.

jeff
03-31-2003, 18:50
Chuck,

Why is it that there is so much attempted deception on the part of the bottlers? Is it because they really want us to believe that all of these boutique bourbons actually come from their own deep-in-the-holler distillery? They have to know that the educated bourbon lover doesn't believe this, and that Joe Q. Sixpack and Jenny Jack-and-Coke don't really care where the stuff comes from as long as they get their buzz on.

Paradox
03-31-2003, 18:56
In an older thread Julian said that if the bottle says "bottled by", NOT "distilled by" and it is in Lawrenceburg, KY and is not a Wild Turkey Brand then it is his. In the thread Hirsch 16 and Boone's Knoll were being discussed but maybe this still applies. As he says though, this applies no more since he moved over to Frankfort...

Here's a link (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Board=General&amp;Number=6508&amp;Fo rum=All_Forums&amp;Words=wild%20turkey%20lawrenceburg&amp; Match=And&amp;Searchpage=0&amp;Limit=25&amp;Old=allposts&amp;Main= 6504&amp;Search=true#Post6508) to that thread.

BTW, my bottles of Michters say: bottled by Michter's American Whiskey Co. Lawrenceburg, Ky

Barrel_Proof
03-31-2003, 19:17
Post the BT/Sazerac association, Julian's whiskies are labeled as originating from Frankfort.

jeff
03-31-2003, 19:21
I figured that would be tha case, I just haven't run across any of them yet. I guess the LB is still getting older stock.

Gillman
03-31-2003, 19:23
Good point, I forgot that. Julian may have felt the Michter's ten year old rye, even if he didn't arrange it at the beginning of its life, was a Michter's-style pre-1919 rye because it had a high rye content whereas his other ryes have just over 51% rye content. (Before 1933, rye content in rye whiskey was at about the 80% level).

I'd think Commonwealth or Stitzel-Weller (sold in '72) are unlikely sources, too far back. Maybe it is from HH, there are resemblances to its Pikesville Rye I would say. I think I'd know for the companion Michter's Straight Bourbon because most HH-ers have a characteristic, wood-derived "camphor" taste (good word used by a poster recently talking about HH), but I haven't tried that Michter's Straight Bourbon. It sounds like the current group of Michter's-label products are connected somehow to Mr. Kulsveen. In Scotland, a merchant bottling under his own brand will very often indicate the source distillery. Sometimes they do not. For example, a well-known "budget" single malt, McClelland's, does not state its origin except to say Islay or Speyside. You are relying on the reputation of the bottler, the goodwill built up in the name. But in most cases the bottlers state (sometimes against the wish of the distilleries) the distillery of origin. This reflects the different history of bottling in Scotland where selling off casks of malt aged in a merchant's (not the distiller's) warehouse was a way to get rid of stock left over from selling different malt whiskies to the blending industry (which later became owned by the distillers themselves). This gave rise to interesting legal questions for some distillers who felt it is not right to sell, say, a "Macallan" if not aged and supervised by The Macallan's itself. (Most however seem not to mind or have given up the point). In the U.S., merchants' (brokers or other kinds of agents) bottling developed differently where there wasn't any question of selling different straight whiskies to a blending industry, at least not methodically. Chuck has given some aspects for the sale of bulk whiskey (a way originally to raise capital against the issue of warehouse receipts) and the practice subsists with HH.

A striking fact, looking back to Europe for a moment, is that until 1968 Jameson's whiskey was not sold under the Jameson name by the Jameson distillery (now part of Pernod Ricard). It was sold to merchants who bottled it under their own names.

Cy

cowdery
04-01-2003, 19:09
Julian Van Winkle's bottling operation is (was?) in Lawrenceburg. He bottled that batch but now that he's a Buffalo Trace, they apparently have switched to KBD Ltd.

cowdery
04-01-2003, 19:12
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Is it because they really want us to believe that all of these boutique bourbons actually come from their own deep-in-the-holler distillery?

[/QUOTE]

Yes, that's exactly what it is. They count on the fact that the "educated" consumers are a small minority.

Gillman
04-01-2003, 19:39
That's right but they underestimate the whiskey knowledge of many of us. A clerk told me at Sherry Lehman's in New York, when I laid out for the Hirsch 16, that when people buy expensive scotch generally it is to find something made in someone's birth year or similar. He said when people buy any decent bourbon, they know exactly what it is and what they are looking for. The industry should twig to this fact - as long as they don't keep increasing the prices. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

Cy

cowdery
04-02-2003, 10:22
Big companies move very slowly and the booze business moves slower than most, but I think there are hopeful signs that at least some decision-makers in the industry are beginning to understand and respond to the enthusiast market (i.e., us).

**DONOTDELETE**
04-02-2003, 10:57
Chuck I think the time has come that the ditillers stand up and take notice. Buffalo Trace did and now they have World's Best Whiskey Award in their back pocket and are sold out.The current bottling of Michter's is a sham! It's not Michter's famous Pennsylvania Pot-Stilled whiskey at all!!!!! Why should anyone pay hommage to this? Whatever the whiskey in the bottle may be - it might be good, and then again it might not - Why honor it????? http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif - Linn

jvanwinkle
04-03-2003, 11:52
Here's the Michter's story as I know it:

The brand is owned by a distributor/importer in NYC by the name of Chatham Imports.
I first bottled some rye and bourbon for them in September of 2000. They actually purchased some whiskey from United Distillers and the barrels were shipped to me in Lawrenceburg. I think both the rye and bourbon were 10-years old. I only bottled the whiskey for them. None of that whiskey was mine.I bottled a few more cases of bourbon in April of 2002. That was the last I did for them. Thought the rye was better than the bourbon at the time. I think both were distilled at UD's Bernheim plant here in Louisville.
They wanted me to continue bottling the brand for them, but as you all know, I closed down my bottling operation in Lawrenceburg last July. So I told Chatham to call Evan K. He is now scheduled to bottle their Michter's label. I tasted the whiskey recently and it tastes alot like HH to me, but I'm not sure. About the only distillerys selling bulk whiskey these days are HH &amp; UD.
Chatham is now using a new round bottle, but I don't think they have bottled any yet in Bardstown.
I hope that explains a few things about this mysterious "whiskey business".

PS. I think I saw in one of Chuck's posts in this Michter's thread that I had bottled all my stocks of Stitzel-Weller bourbon, and I should be now using Buffalo Trace's stock. I actually had SW make whiskey for me as far back as 1982, up til 1992, so I'll be using that distilation under my label for quite sometime. I'll be using BT whiskey for the first time perhaps next year for my 10-year old.
Julian

bourbonmed
04-03-2003, 13:35
Julian,

Thanks for the scoop.
Omar

Paradox
04-03-2003, 14:23
Julian,

Thanks as well, that clears up alot.

cowdery
04-03-2003, 18:13
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
I actually had SW make whiskey for me as far back as 1982, up til 1992, so I'll be using that distilation under my label for quite sometime.

[/QUOTE]

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know, that's good news. We should all savor every last drop of SW whiskey.

Has all of that stock been moved to BT or is there still something in Shively?

jvanwinkle
04-09-2003, 11:41
Chuck:
All of my SW barrels are now at Buffalo Trace.
My Lawrenceburg place is empty, except for a few choice bottles, and the property is for sale.
Julian