Whisky and Words Number 107: Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye vs. Bulleit 95 Rye

A true small-batch, single-barrel release

Full disclosure: I can find Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye locally, but I did not buy it for this review. I received a sample bottle of this and two other whiskies for a group tasting event. (Hence not much in the way of photography today.) If I had purchased, it would have set me back about $49 locally, which is a lot for an American whisky with no specific age statement. 

Michter‘s is interesting for being a small distiller  specializing in small batch whiskies and, in this case, single barrel releases. Yes, this is a single-barrel rye. Of its provenance, the Michter’s web site does not tell us any more than we’d know from the branding as a Straight Rye: aged at least 2 years in charred, new American oak barrels, at least 51% rye in the mash, no colors or flavoring agents added, and all the whiskey in the bottle distilled in same state. It would be interesting to know the actual ratio of rye in the mash bill. I emailed, let’s see what we hear back. But we do know they distill their own spirit (unlike many ’boutique’ rye whiskies that use spirit from MGP). Michter’s distillery is in Louisville, KY.

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Whisky and Words Number 105: Balvenie Single ‘Guest’ Cask 14 yrs

Note: this is third in a series of 3 single-cask reviews.

Small bottle, big flavor. But what flavor?

On our visit to The Balvenie, we had the opportunity to valinch a small bottle (200 ml) from one of a few barrels they had set aside for that purpose. After a quick, slurped taste out of my hand, I chose  the 14-year-old sherry cask. Each bottle we valinched was £15, which is not too crazy considering a 5 cl bottle of Tomintoul cost me £10 in a shop! In fact, the three retired insurance company execs we toured with made off with armloads of these little bottles from The Balvenie.

I still have about half of my valinched bottle, as I’ve only broken it out for a couple special occasions. As I happened to review two single-barrel selections this month, I thought, why not compare this single barrel? How does the random ‘guest cask’ at the distillery tour compare to the malt master’s selected single cask release? And what better comparison than from Review 103, the Balvenie First Fill, Single Barrel?

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Whisky and Words Number 104: GlenAllachie Single Cask 2006

Note: this is second in a series of 3 single-cask reviews

That is one dark and fell liquid.

I have to admit, before  being presented this bottle (a gift, due to a long incumbency with my company), I had not heard of GlenAllachie. This is despite having visited its locale (Aberlour, Speyside) when I was in Scotland. We had actually walked halfway there (to Linn Falls) along the burn; what a missed opportunity! GlenAllachie is a fairly new distillery, being founded in 1967, changing hands a couple times, most recently by a private company which re-opened it in 2017. With but two wash and two spirit stills, it is a modest operation, producing about 4M liters a year. That compares well to Aberlour just down hill at about 3.5M liters a year.

The spirit under consideration today is their single cask ‘sherry bomb’ of 15 years maturity, and I am quite excited about it. It is bottled with a cask strength of 59.1% ABV and of course no chill filtering or added colors, as befits a special release.  I like to have a comparison dram, and fortunately I still have some of the 14-year-old Balvenie I valinched from a sherry cask during our visit there.

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