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With the demise of Michter's Distillery does that add any value to the existing 16 and 20 year old A J Hirsch label of Bourbon.
> With the demise of Michter's Distillery does that add any value to the
> existing 16 and 20 year old A J Hirsch label of Bourbon.
One might say that at the prices they charge for the Hirsch bourbons, that value is already built in to some extent. FWIW, stocks are apparently not that low, so you decide if that extra value is worth it yet. Myself, I've decided that added value is appropriate time and again.
Michter's has been gone for about 15 years, so nothing has changed recently that would affect the value of your Hirsch bottles.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
Being a relative newbie to the bourbon world I did not know that Michter's distillery was closed that long. They must have pumped it out before their demise as their 16 & 20 yr. bourbons seem to be fairly available if you are willing to pay the price. Thanks for "gettin my mind right".
Michter's holds a special place of honor in the bourbon world for historic reasons. It was the last commercial whiskey distillery in the Commonwealth of Pennsyvania until it went belly up (the distillery, not the Commonwealth). Although it wasn't really located in the famous Monongahela River area south of Pittsburgh, it was still part of the tradition, and it represented to Pennsylvania what the Jack Daniel and George Dickel distilleries represent to Tennessee... the last of a once-powerful industry.
Although folks came from all over to settle (and distill) in Kentucky, the bourbon industry as a whole considers itself to be the direct descendents of the Pennsylvania whiskeymen. Pennsylvania, especially the area along the Monongahela river, was home to the first American spirit to gain world status (apple & pear brandy and rum were big locally, but not back in Europe). It was rye whiskey, since barley (the traditional Irish and Scots whiskey grain) didn't grow well there. What little corn whiskey might have been made was not commercially important.
These were the men who first tested (and by failing, confirmed) the ability of George Washington's new Federal Government of the United States to affirm its identity -- the Whiskey Rebellion. Many of them moved down river to the hills of Kentucky where there were fewer federal agents to bother them and homesteads could be had for little more than the promise to grow corn. Thus did corn come to dominate the whiskey made there and from that came bourbon as we know it today.
Michter's was still available in liquor stores well into the eighties, and I remember it from then. I've also (thanks, Mark) had the opportunity to re-taste it from an old bottle. The only Michter's I've known or tasted, however, was called "Pot-Still Whisky", not "Bourbon". I wasn't aware that they even made bourbon whiskey, although the pot-still variety tasted mighty similar. It may be that it met all the requirements for being labeled bourbon, but Michter's chose to distinguish it from the Kentucky whiskies. I don't know, but Hirsch has labelled what it bottled as "Bourbon".
When Hirsch bought up all the old Michter's stock, they dumped all the barrels into stainless steel tanks. That arrested any further aging and is what allows them them to be able to sell 16 and 20 year old product year after year. Unfortunately, it also disposed of the original barrels, so we can't see whether they were marked "Bourbon" or just "Whisky". Hirsch didn't buy out Michter's as a working distillery; it had been abandoned for years. When my wife Linda and I visited it in 1990 it was little more than several large piles of bricks overgrown with weeds and ivy. The reason it went out of business was that they continued to make a lot more barrels of whiskey than they sold. Since production in this business always runs four to eight years ahead of sales, there was indeed a large accumulation of unsold whiskey in the warehouses.
Thanks for the very informative and interesting history lesson. It's nice to see someone respond to what is asked about and not what is imagined in such a pleasant and informative manner.
For more history, try the following link:
And as a sad footnote, I have read in a couple of places that a large portion of the Mitchers stock was ordered destroyed by a court of law when the abandoned warehouses containing the barrels became a public nuisance. (I guess the urge to visit after dark and tap into a few barrels for a little midnight requisitioning was just too much to resist for a number of people. Cannot be condoned, but understandable perhaps, after the local stores ran out of stock.)
The Mitchers closing, unfortunate as it is, does make one appreciate those peices of our history that have been preserved, especially working distillaries.
Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas
I happened to see your piece about Michter's and Hirsch. Since I bottle that whiskey for the Hue family in Covington, I thought I'd chime in. All the 20-year Hirsch is bottled, and there's not much left. The 16-year is in a tank and that should last awhile.
The Michter's barrels did say on them, "Pennsylvania Sour Mash Bourbon" for your info.
Thanks, Julian. I have a bottle of the 16-year. Of course, you could no more compare that to the 4-year-old Pot Still version than you could compare Elijah Craig 18-year to Heaven Hill, but were they really different whiskey's? I know the word "bourbon" doesn't appear anywhere on the old Michter's label, but the whiskey itself isn't all that dissimilar. Were there also barrels of "Pennsylvania Pot Still Whiskey" that weren't preserved for posterity (meaning us, of course)?
And now for a real surprise! For those who want to ring the nostalgia bells really hard, I would like to offer a link I stumbled across in my searches. I've spent the last few weeks following up on it (you don't get quick responses from Chambers of Commerce) but unfortunately, it just ain't so. It is a web page devoted to the "newly restored" Michter's/Bomberger's distillery. The page looks very contemporary (hell, there wasn't any WorldWideWeb while Michter's existed), but it turns out that it was created by a Chamber of Commerce website developer from brochures... in this case, very old brochures. To give an idea of how accurate the web can be, nobody (including the folks who paid for it) seems to have noticed that it hasn't existed for over twenty years! So, now that I've poked around and maybe aroused some attention, they'll probably take it off. Check it out while you still can...
<font color="ffc000"> <a><href "http://www.westol.com/informer/directory/attractions/michters.html">http://www.westol.com/informer/directory/attractions/michters.html</font></a>
Thanks for you post Golden Dudester! That's exactly how Michter's looked when I visited the distillery. Had they only marketed themselves properly that website would be a true fact and not a great sadness.
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
Julian do you have the tank of 16 YO Hirsch at your place?
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
It is actually at a distillery in Frankfort.
...The Michter's barrels did say on them, "Pennsylvania Sour Mash Bourbon" for your info.
Good to know.
Tim - taking a trip, strolling through old posts?
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