As noted previously, I received a liter of original Michter's pot-still sour mash whiskey recently, contained in a limited-edition (3,000) "Pennsylvania Football" decanter, released in 1979. For the uninitiated, this is a cousin to the much-referenced A.H. Hirsch bottlings, which were distilled at the Michter's distillery before it closed in the late 1980s.
I've now drunk several pours of this whiskey -- both because I enjoy it and in order for form some impressions.
Some general ones:
-- One whiff and there's no doubt this is the same stuff that Hirsch comes from. Though much less subtle than the Hirsch, there's the same fresh, pine-forest nose.
--Taste-wise, it's also not hard to imagine this coming out an oak barrel into a Hirsch bottling. There's a very dry, mint freshness to it.
--Though the relationship to Hirsch is apparent, it's equally clear that this is not "bourbon". The flavors and aromas are much more on the surface, without the vanillins and "sweet somethings" imparted by new, charred oak barrels.
--The piny assertiveness in the nose softens with time in the glass (a Riedel bourbon glass), falling back to a mild cotton-candy scent. It fills the nasal passages and stays with you, an altogether pleasant 'discongestant'.
--The cotton candy also presents itself first on the palate, though an evergreen bitterness (not unpleasant) quickly overwhelms it and develops into a pretty long, tongue-coating finish.
Overall, I like this stuff better than the Hirsch bottlings. The sensory qualities of both are very similar, but I find the original whiskey's unmasked flavors much preferable to the oaky prevalence I discern in the Hirsch bottlings.
The bad news is, of course, as with Hirsch, Michter's isn't readily available anymore. I lucked into this and a few other sealed decanters of various sizes. I realize most of you likely will never get to enjoy this, which is why I didn't attempt a full-out tasting note.
I hope these impressions provide some historical perspective, anyway. And, certainly, I'd welcome hearing the impressions of any others of you that have had the pleasure of tasting this fast-vanishing legend.