Last night made Woodstock Whiskey Society’s third group tasting. All previous members were back for another round and we had three more people lined up to come, but they were unable to make it due to scheduling. While we weren’t able to see some new faces this time around, we still had a good time and maybe we’ll see them at next month’s meeting!
March’s theme was Michter’s base product line. Previously we had tasted several rye whiskies and had decided that we would use one of the purchased bottles in our next tasting to cut down on expenses. We settled on Michter’s as most people had not had any of their products and the Michter’s Rye was one of the favorites of the night. I already owned the other three bottles, so it was easy enough to setup.
I did some basic prep-work and read a bit about Michter’s and their product line. Michter’s proofs all of their base product line down prior to entry into the barrel. This process is supposed to provide a more consistent product each time instead of having to adjust the water amounts after dumping the barrels. We ended up discussing chill filtering since Michter’s does it for their entire base product line, explaining the process and why some distilleries choose to do it mostly for cosmetic purposes and marketing. For those that have heard the term, but don’t know what it is, chill filtering is simply taking the dumped whiskey, cooling it down to the point where fat and proteins begin to turn into solids and then it’s pushed through a mesh strainer to remove the “impurities”. The result is a clearer, cleaner looking spirit, but some will argue that by chill filtering, you’re tampering with the whiskey in a way that could change the flavor profile.
This time around, I arranged the bottles by proof, starting from the lowest and working our way up. By doing so, we were able to taste more without burning our palates out too quickly. Due to lack of glassware, we also had a mandatory intermission so that everyone could rinse their glasses, grab a few snacks and go chat with the designated drivers who were hanging out doing some more coloring.
Michter’s American Whiskey
This one finished the night with at least one vote for best of the evening. Mild, sweet and overall a pleasant drop, Michter’s American is very approachable for newcomers and is one that I like to let people sample that aren’t necessarily too keen on whiskey. One of our participant’s wife typically enjoys rum and thought that this was pretty good when we gave her a taste. You might describe this one as a “vanilla bomb” and you wouldn’t be far off the mark, which is probably one of the reasons you might consider this rum-like. Personally, I really enjoyed this bottle when I was new to whiskey, but soon burnt out on it once I had become more experienced. I consider it too sweet for my palate and the one-dimensional vanilla flavor leaves me wanting.
One of the winner’s from last month’s tasting made its return this month to take the crown as “best of the night”. Everyone seemed to enjoy both the nose and palate on this one. The peppery notes were very prevalent from the rye and the taste is very well rounded, not too sweet, not too spicy. At the end of the night, we decided this would be the “winner” and 2oz will be added to our infinity bottle for the tasting in December when the bottle should be full. I think we’re all looking forward to sampling our creation.
Michter’s Sour Mash
The Sour Mash was interesting in that no one was really excited about it. It sort of fell flat, with the mash bill not having enough corn to be considered bourbon and not enough rye to be considered a rye, it just felt like it didn’t know what it was supposed to be. A few drops of water opened it up a bit and people seemed to like it more, being able to taste more caramel, but it still ended up being the least favorite of the bunch.
Michter’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon
The Bourbon was second favorite of the night. While not necessarily an impressive bourbon, it did provide the satisfaction that only a bourbon seems capable of. The classic notes of oak, caramel and vanilla were all present and there was just a hint of smoke from the charred barrels. The higher proof compared to the rest, while not much of a difference, brought a little more of the richness of the flavors out and I think that’s probably what helped to move it further up the podium.
Seeing that it was Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, we had to have at least one Irish Whiskey. I brought down a bottle of Green Spot, which is one of my favorite Irish bottles. Most of our participants thought it was pretty good, with one saying that they preferred Midleton over it. I like to think of Green Spot as a dessert pour, something that you have after a nice meal since it’s pleasantly sweet, but not overly so.
I also brought down a 13 year store pick of WhistlePig 10 since in our previous tasting, the standard bottling of WhistlePig 10 came out on bottom. Everyone agreed that the 13 year high proof offering was much better and had it been at the last tasting, it may have won out among the other rye we sampled. Sweet redemption.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening. We got to spend time with friends, eat tasty food and chat about something we all enjoy. Michter’s produces a pretty decent core lineup and for the $39 price point across the board, it fits nicely in anyone’s home bar. I look forward to these tastings and we’ve went ahead and scheduled our April meetup. Next time we’ll be sampling a selection of Four Roses products, specifically Single Barrel and two or three Single Barrel Store Picks and hopefully by the time of April’s meeting, the new Four Roses Small Batch Select will be available and I’ll snag one of those in addition to our other bottles. Until next month, cheers!