Michter’s US*1 Small Batch Bourbon

I’ve heard good things about Michter’s, but local restaurants didn’t have any on hand for me to sample. This motivated me to travel to Saloon, at Davis Square (Somerville, MA) modeled after a prohibition-era speakeasy.

It’s hard to spot – you have look for the doorway next to the Davis Square Theatre, which takes you downstairs. The “sign” is just the light in front.

matthew-j-lee-boston-globe-staff
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Entering, I found myself back in time in a charming speakeasy, dark wood paneling, leather chairs, with a decent sized bar, and more cozy areas to sit at tables with friends.

The manager and bartender were knowledgeable and friendly, and they had well over 100 varieties of whiskey, rye, bourbon and scotch to sample.

saloon-somerville

Before reviewing it, let’s ask – what is Michter’s? The original Michter’s was made at Bomberger’s Distillery, from the 1950’s, until the 1980’s.  That original spirit is no longer available.  In the 1990’s Chatham Imports bought the name.

Chatham has begun distilling its own whiskey in Kentucky, but they haven’t released bourbon from their new distillery yet. So this Michter’s Small Batch has been sourced from some other major producer, making it an NDP product.

Chatham notes that they made an arrangement with a major, undisclosed, distillery in Kentucky to use to make their spirit for them, while Chatham was building it’s new distillery.  Chatham is currently aging large amount of it’s own whiskey and bourbon, which is not yet on the market.

michters-at-saloon-somerville

However, they aren’t like other NDPs: Other NDPs just quietly buy some other companies whiskey and rebottle it, at a higher price.

Chatham instead specified a mashbill and yeast strain, and had this whiskey made to to their specifications (Michter’s); they then aged it in their own warehouse, in air-dryed wood barrels, toasted as well as charred etc, and then bottled it.

They state that the new bourbon they are distilling themselves has the same mash bill and yeast strain, and will age in the same type barrels, so they promise that their own new bourbon will eventually be the same as the one we are drinking today.

Their current US*1 bourbon is 91.4 proof. NAS (no age statement) but their website states that it is around 8 years old; it’s common to mention this on the website, but not the bottle, so as to have flexibility: it may contains blends of 6 year old, 7, 8 or older whiskies. The “small batch” is explained as being “typically composed of no more than two dozen barrels.”

Color: Amber. Nose: slightly dark, fruit. Taste:  Wow, this has a round mouth feel, full & flavorful. Thick body, caramel on the front palate. A bit sweet. Nothing floral or citrus like Four Roses, this is a totally different type of bourbon.  So full that it stands up to having a couple of ice cubes in it. Has a pleasantly long finish. This bourbon is a winner, and one I’ll soon be trying again.

Further reading: Michter’s Distillery Joe Magliocco Talks About Doubling Capacity to 1,000,000 Gallons and This Louisville distillery is doubling capacity — one year after opening. 

 

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