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Drink Review: Michter’s Sour Mash Review

Beautifully rich and spicy, this sour-mash whiskey from Michter’s has an abundance of cinnamon, butter and nutty notes, along with a hint of black pepper to freshen things up. Delicious.

NOSE

Enticing aromas of dried fruit and freshly baked bread, but poised and focused.

PALATE

A different story on the palate – bags of rich dried fruit, and generously spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, like a turbocharged Dundee cake.

FINISH

Well balanced, with the rich fruit standing up to the spice.

Michter’s Sour Mash Review Summary

The sour mash process gives this whiskey a distinct flavour profile it doesn’t really share with other whiskey styles. Sour mash is a way of preparing a fermentable mash for whiskey production by inoculating it with some sweet mash from a previous distillation. The process results in a distinctive flavour in the whiskey that brings a freshness to the otherwise sweet and fruity flavours generated by a wash.

Michter’s Sour Mash Review: The Nose

The nose on this Michter’s Sour Mash whiskey is, like the name suggests, very ‘sour’ and fruity. The initial nose is a little aniseed and sweet malt extract. There is some musty honey and the first fruits of autumn – doughy figs and hard-boiled quince alongside a slice of candied orange peel. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for the tiniest whiff of alcohol vapours towards the finish, I wouldn’t have guessed that this whiskey was 40% ABV.

As the nose moves on it becomes spicier. There’s some warm cinnamon, a nuttiness and freshly baked buttered bread, and a hint of black pepper to get things moving. It’s a gentle warm spice rather than a tongue-aching clove there; definitely a lot more subtle than a lot of other bourbons I’ve tried. The finish here is very short, lasting less than a few seconds, which is quite a shame.

Michter’s Sour Mash Review: The Palate

Believe it or not, it’s the nose that really seals this Michter’s Sour Mash whiskey’s quality. It’s the palate where my enjoyment of it dipped a little. It’s certainly a very pleasant whiskey to drink, sweet and rich without being cloying, and with a lot of fruity richness.

I found the finish here a little unbalanced though, with the sweetness not quite able to hold up to the much bigger, much spicier, much more richly flavoured palate. This sour mash is all about the dried fruits and spices, and the rich almost cake-like notes, but I couldn’t help thinking that the strength of these flavours need a bigger yet more nuanced kick of sweetness to support it. At the same time, I know that if this was any richer, any more intensely flavoured, any sweeter, it would be an entirely different whiskey, and I love that this one has a uniqueness to it that I haven’t tasted in any other American whiskey.

Michter’s Sour Mash Review: The Finish

I’ll be honest, there’s very little to say about the finish. As I said before, it’s well balanced, with the rich fruit standing up to the spice. It’s really quite nice and light for a whiskey without the burn you get with other bourbons out there, and with none of the alcohol vapours you get when drinking a splash of a cheap wine. Overall, that’s what stood out to me; that it’s a really, really nice whiskey that could definitely sneak onto your ‘everyday’ shelf without making you feel too conspicuous.

Legally, Michter’s Sour Mash whiskey can only be sold in the USA. But, and who knows if this is true or not, it’s alleged that this whiskey is the same product sold in the glass bottle as the single barrel whiskey sold in the wooden boxes. Whether this is true or not, I can vouch that it’s a good whiskey whichever way you look at it.

There’s no doubt that this Michter’s Sour Mash whiskey is a step up from a lot of ‘house’ brands, and that its uniqueness makes it stand out from the crowd. Although a little pricey upfront, it represents excellent value for money over time, and may very well be the whiskey to introduce you to the delights of American whiskey. Personally, I’m going to be keeping an eye out for more releases in this range, while keeping a glass of this on my shelf for when visitors come for a drink.

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