The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 26 of 140

Fred's W Best Bourbon of the Year MICHTER'S 20 YEAR OLD SETS STANDARD FOR THE ULTRA-PREMIUM MARKET hen it comes to super-premium brown spirits, bourbon lacks a successful history in the highly- priced category. A $6 bourbon was considered expensive in the 1960s. Today, there are numerous brands at $90, but cognacs and scotches still dominate the ultra-premium market. In clubs, you'll find some cognacs for $15,000 a bottle, and at auctions premium Scotch whiskies consistently sell in the $100,000 range. The reason that $200 and higher bourbons never took off was that there was a belief in the industry that bourbon did not age well past 12 years. This assumption was passed down from distiller to distiller, and everybody just did what everybody else did. However, as more investments came into the bourbon category, more distillers started chasing the ultra-premium market and completely disregarded old-school thought. Today, you can find wonderful bourbons that have aged quite well into their 20s and are priced in the $500 range. Right in the thick of this trend is Michter's, a historic Pennsylvania brand that moved to Kentucky. Michter's is currently refurbish- ing the landmark Fort Nelson Building in downtown Louisville for $7.8 million. At the new site, Michter's will use pot stills built by Vendome Copper & Brass Works, Inc. in Louisville. I personally believe Michter's is one of the most exciting brands in all of whiskey. It's owned by Michter's Distillery LLC, who spare no expense to create the best whiskey money can buy. And it shows in the Michter's 20 Year Old Bourbon. This is quite simply the best 26 / the tasting panel / november 2012 bourbon I've had all year. I blind-tasted it next to other bourbons, and each time I selected Michter's 20 Year Old Single Barrel. It retails for $450. By law, bourbon must contain at least 51 percent corn and can have wheat, barley or rye added to the mashbill. Although Michter's does not release its mashbills, this 20 Year Old leans toward the rye-added bourbons with its beauti- ful spices of cinnamon, licorice and a hint of curry. I find gorgeous chocolate, tobacco and cigar box notes in this as well. It's an aromatic bourbon that was released at the optimum moment. If this juice spent another day in the barrel, it would not be as complex. Michter's only made 212 bottles of this rich and spicy, tangy and earthy spirit. The 20 Year Old sold out as soon as distributors let their clients know of its existence. The good news: They're planning a new bottling soon. Michter's 20 Year Old Bourbon is a step in the right direction for the ultra-pre- mium bourbon market. You may want to get your order in now, but if you can't swing the 20 Year Old, the brand's 10 Year Old Bourbon is made up of barrels aged significantly beyond the age statement.

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