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Is this Kentucky’s best bourbon?

Joseph J. Magliocco

Michter’s 10-year bourbon is back on the market — just in time for Derby Day
The back story:With the annual running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, it’s time to talk bourbon, the state’s signature sip. But what about a highly acclaimed bourbon made by an up-and-coming distiller with Pennsylvania roots and New York ties? In a sense, that’s the story behind Michter’s, which indeed has a history going back to Pennsylvania in the 18th century, making it one of the oldest names in the American booze biz. After shutting down in 1989, the brand was revived a few years later by Joseph Magliocco, an attorney-turned-wine and spirits professional who’s behind New York-based Chatham Imports.

Long before the bourbon and rye boom that’s swept this country the last few years, Magliocco had a hunch that America’s classic spirits would find their way back to the fore. He proved right and Michter’s, which produces several varieties of bourbon and rye and opened a distillery in Kentucky a few years ago, is now considered a major player in the state. In fact, in 2015, it became the first distiller named a “Heritage” member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association — meaning a member that has produced at least 25,000 barrels of whiskey in the state — in more than 30 years.

All well and good, but what about the quality of the stuff? Michter’s, much like Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, has taken on something of a cult status among bourbon buffs. That’s especially true of its 10 Year Bourbon, a limited-edition product that generally sells out as soon as it’s released (and can easily go for twice the suggested retail price). Magliocco won’t reveal the exact grain composition — or “mash bill” — behind the bourbon, except to say that it’s got at least 50% corn in the mix (which is a requirement for bourbon). But he will say that there’s a reason that Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt has earned the nickname “Dr. No.” That is, he won’t release a bourbon until he thinks the flavor and aging are just right. Fortunately, for Michter’s fans, he’s just released a new batch of the 10 Year.

What we think about it: In a word: Wow. We admit we’re more Scotch drinkers than bourbon ones — because of its corn component, bourbon has a sweeter side we don’t always appreciate. But a well-made bourbon like this Michter’s reveals how the spirit can have a balanced, inviting edge — almost as if you’re sipping a good (make that great) dry sherry. And yet, it has echoes of sweetness, too — like the memory of a caramel treat enjoyed on a summer’s night. Is it any wonder that Food & Wine magazine once proclaimed Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon the best American whiskey on the market?

How to enjoy it: Though Magliocco notes that some high-end bars will occasionally make pricey cocktails with the 10 Year Bourbon, he generally advises against doing so. His preference is to enjoy it with a splash of soda as a pre-dinner drink – or sip it neat after the meal. We’d recommend the latter.

Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-this-kentuckys-best-bourbon-2016-05-06

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