We’re just taking an educated guess here, but we think Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye is going to be the single-malt drinker’s favorite. Unlike your typical high rye whiskeys, which can be loud, hot, and bold, this one’s spicy, earthy character is brooding and devilishly dark. Somehow they took all of those characteristics, and still made a balanced and drinkable whiskey.
It’s not the first time Michter’s has surprised us. They’re among the club of new-ish distillers on the block who have made a mark on the American whiskey market quickly by releasing a mixture of whiskey purchased from other distillers, as well as whiskey distilled or finished on site in their own facilities. It’s an increasingly common practice that gets product in front of consumers without forcing a distiller to wait half a decade for product to become mature, or (worse) bottle moonshine-like new make spirit and flood the market with more white whiskey.
So while Michter’s has released a lot of great products already, the Toasted Barrel Finish Rye is special in part because it’s authentic to their talented team, and an experiment dreamed up within their own offices.
Plus, toasted barrel finishes are just really good.
Toasting and charring aren’t the same thing. Charring essentially sets the inside of a barrel ablaze with a powerful jet-engine-like flame for a very brief period of time, whereas there’s very little direct flame contact with the toasting process. Think of the charring process like grilling the barrel, and the toasting process like sticking it in the over for a few hours.
The distillery says these toasted barrels impart different characteristics into the matured rye: enhanced spice character, dark toast, and smoke. We’d agree, but add some other unique characteristic to the list, including hints of pencil lead/ and freshly sawn oak, raisins, and loads of cinnamon.
The whiskey is simultaneously more mellow and contains deeper flavor, as if that two year stint has pressure cooked the whiskey.
The additional years of aging do mean an increase in price: Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye retails for $75 with limited numbers on the market. We’d say for rye lovers it’s a must-try at a price that doesn’t hurt that bad at all.