Michter's is another Kentucky-based distillery, but with a curious marketing tale. Their website talks about how they're "proud to honor a historical legacy tracing back to the founding of America’s first whiskey company in 1753", but that isn't the whole story.
That "first whiskey company" was started in Pennsylvania by John and Michael Shenk, passing through various hands and ending up as Bomberger's around 1860. The Michter's name only appeared in the 1950s, formed from the names of the then-owner's sons Michael and Peter Forman, and the Pennsylvania operation closed from it's final bankruptcy in 1989.
The modern Michter's is now in Louisville, Kentucky and doesn't seem to have anything in common with the original distillery, other than the name.
Michter's US*1 Bourbon is a small batch whiskey, typically coming from no more than two dozen barrels and "often" aged over 8 years and bottled at a mid-range 45.7% ABV.
The aroma is full of vanilla, fresh sawn wood and a background of an almost port-like fruitiness. With water the sweeter fruitier notes are lost, and the wood takes on a singed character.
In the mouth, there's less sweetness than the nose suggests - a smooth, almost creamy vanilla competes with spicy black pepper in a slightly jarring way. The finish is a little less muddled, but rather heavy on the oak.
Watered, the spice is less pronounced but it remains somehow unbalanced - creamy and slightly sweet but with a distinct harshness in the finish. I'm not convinced by this; 2 stars.
Many thanks to Master of Malt for providing their excellent Bourbon Advent Calendar this year.
This review was originally published 3rd December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.