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Original Michter's


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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.

More specifically:

--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.

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Barrel_Proof

I realize most of you likely will never get to enjoy this, which is why I didn't attempt a full-out tasting note.

In fact, Michter's is relatively easy to find, but not in retail liquor stores. The company was heavily into the collectible decanter biz -- as were Beam, Ezra Brooks, McCormick, and others, at one time -- so there are a ton of Michter's whiskey decanters on the secondary market. Hardly a week goes by that a dozen or more aren't sold on eBay. So, no excuses gang. If you want some, you can have some. cool.gif

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Some time ago I was considering buying a Michter's decanter from eBay... It was one of the Mummy head ones, full and sealed. After talking with the guy who was selling it I decided not to buy it because I have heard that sometimes bourbon in a ceramic decanter which is many years old can get quite nasty. Part of me still wishes I had bought it for the price I could have had it for but the other half is glad I did not. From your experiences, have you ever got 'bad bourbon' from a very old ceramic decanter?

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The ceramic hasn't been a problem so far -- the above-noted football decanter among them. The only others I've opened and sampled have been the glazed stoneware minis w/ cork closures, and the couple I've tried also have been fine.

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Based upon your success with the ceramic decanters, I'll give an older Michter's a try in the future. It will be interesting! toast.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...

What do they typically go for?

I've never used ebay. Is there a link I use that would get me to the (filled) decanters?

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I've paid anywhere from $5-$6 for a sealed mini to $50 or so for a sealed 1.75L. Add $3-$15 for shipping and insurance. Since even the empty decanters seem to have a significant collector following, I attribute some of the cost to collectibility, not whiskey. (Of course, officially, Ebay considers ALL of the cost 'collectibility', since you can't officially buy and sell liquor on its site.) Just go to www.ebay.com, and then run a search for "michter's" from its search function on the home page.

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