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  1. #1
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    Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    When the original Michter's was operating, it produced something called Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey.

    This was, to my best recollection, 50% corn, the rest mostly rye with some barley malt. It was apparently 6 years old and generally aged in new charred oak although some reports state that reused barrels were sometimes employed for aging.

    Michael Jackson gave it high marks in his landmark World Guide To Whisky, published in the late 1980's.

    He called it "gingery" (this was the rye hit surely) and "delightful". I've had some here and there over the years and it was great, like a soft melding of a straight bourbon and rye.

    A full page ad in the last New York Times Sunday magazine announces the release of a whiskey of this name. The label on the bottle pictured states Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey. I can't see an age statement on the bottle, but you can't see the reverse side of course. It is 86 proof, which is the proof of the original IIRC.

    In the lower corner of the page, the producer is called "Michter's American Whiskey Company Kentucky", so clearly it is connected to the company which has been marketing the other Michter expressions in recent years. Presumably the make is sourced in Kentucky.

    Taste notes will be appreciated, until I can get my hands on some.

    Personally, I like the various releases from the current Michter's outfit, which has no connection to the original Michter's business if I understand correctly what I've read about it other than owning the Michter's trade mark. Those products (variously aged bourbon and rye, and a non-straight American Whiskey) were all good, especially the 10 year old rye, but this is the first time I believe that an attempt has been made to offer a taste similar to what Michter's of Pennsylvania last produced for retail purchase under that brand name (i.e., excepting whiskey produced for the bulk market which it apparently did from time to time include the legendary Hirsch 16 and 20 year old bourbons). The reason I say that is the ad copy states that the brand is being released "for the first time in 23 years", so I'd guess some attempt was made to get at the same palate. This will be interesting.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 12-27-2012 at 04:15.

  2. #2
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    I want to try this as well, and you are correct on the mashbill. Fermented with Beam jug yeast and doubled in a pot still. I am not sure on the backset content, Dick just said they pumped it to it for so many minutes and did not recall the gallonage. I just hope this is not some soured low grade bourbon aged in used barrels, maybe they did their homemork on this one.

  3. #3
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Tom, I would think it is sourced in some manner since the announcement of setting up a distillery under the Michter's name in Louisville only goes back about a year and half. Even assuming that distillery is up and running, that would not seem enough time to get this new product in the bottle.

    Gary

  4. #4
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Well, doubled in a doubler which their marketing people insisted on calling a pot still even though it was an ordinary doubler. Of course they did put up a small pot still as a PR gag for the 1976 Bi-centennial and I'm surprised at the number of folks who actually think it was used for the regular run of their whisky.
    Last edited by squire; 12-27-2012 at 21:46.

  5. #5
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Those opposed to how they market are free to say so, and why, and not to buy this or any brand. As for me, I just want to try it and see what it's like. And they haven't said as such it is a replication of the original, but I think you can infer it, possibly, from the tenor of the ad which is typical of many modern whiskey ads which talk about heritage and pedigree in a vague way.

    And if it turns out there is no connection at all in the make-up, I won't feel disappointed, I have no expectation on it one way or the other. (It's a bottle of whiskey at the end of the day and I want to try it).

    Maybe someone from the whisky press will call them up and ask them...

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 12-28-2012 at 12:59.

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Why ask questions of people who you know will lie to you? What makes you think their dishonesty ends with their marketing? Of course they 'infer' that it is a replication of the original, hoping people with bottomless reserves of credulity will drop the dime. Be my guest. Then I'd like to talk to you about a bridge I'm selling.

  7. #7
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    The whiskey was by most reports very good though, and there was some detail about the pot still doubler that differed from what most other people do, either charging it separately or something about the heads and tails - I think Ethan or Chuck could elaborate about this. But no question the claims as made by the old PA business seemed a bit broad in this regard, at least in today's environment, and setting aside that some whiskey was made after 1975 in a true pot still system and sold in the visitor shop, or so I've read.

    In the new ad I mentioned, there is no verbal reference to pot stilling as such. The bottle has a depiction of what looks like an ancient pot still on it, but that is just a vague depiction of heritage and I think all the bottles in the line use it.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 12-28-2012 at 02:10.

  8. #8
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    I am pretty sure Dick Stoll told me the whiskey was condensed off the beer still and collected and ran through the pot in a separate operation. Most doublers are continuos in how they work, no true seperation of heads and tails. In a pot like I am told they ran, you would get heads and tails in the traditional manner. That would make for a high proof much lighter whiskey. The process would be not too far removed from what is done at A. Smith Bowman.

  9. #9
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Well, that's interesting Tom. I was reading a little further into it and found a 2008 discussion on Chuck's blog. He states that it was the apparent intention back in the 50's to set up a true double distillation pot still system but it didn't occur, and also that big distilleries in PA at the time may have dispensed with a second distillation stage, so claiming a pot stilling might have a greater significance in that environment.

    Using a doubler is truly to use the second stage of a traditional pot-stilling, it is like the spirit still in that process, but the first stage uses a column for the "stripping" stage due to its efficiency. For me what it comes down to is, Michter's (until that Vendome pot still was put in in 1976 as part of a tourist demonstration project, apparently, and used to distill small amounts of whiskey), was using a process essentially similar to what bourbon-makers were doing for about 100 years, but it chose to market that aspect of it, and others didn't. Anyway that's old history. The current Michter's products are apparently Kentucky-sourced whiskies made in a way typical of their style. For me, what is in the bottle is what counts. I'll give my opinion in due course when I can taste it.

    Gary

  10. #10
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    Re: Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey

    Squire, they were known for it but it was hardly a huge seller back then. Very few people today, even in groups like ours, would know what this was. So if they use the same name maybe they intended some taste connection. And maybe they didn't, I can live with that. Simple, end of story, and I'll spend $30.00 or whatever it will cost to see if it tastes like a kind of bourbon-rye mingling. That is all this is (to me) but if people don't want to buy it, that is up to them.

    Gary

 

 

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