Kentucky-based Michter’s Whiskey is stunning this year with a late-season arrival of one of its most coveted rare releases: Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Michter’s 20 Bourbon, as most call it, is one of the many Michter’s products released only when the tasting team approves it. When it doesn’t meet standards, they don’t bottle anything.
This year, it seems to have met those standards. The bottles (of which there are just a few hundred) will arrive on shelves in November. And by shelves, of course, we mean hands—as few if any of these bottles will spend any time on sale before they’re gobbled up by collectors and consumers. There’s high demand for Michter’s 20, and not just because it doesn’t release every year.
It’s been two years since the last Michter’s 20 released. We don’t want to tell you how much the 2019 bottles are going for now.
“This whiskey really showcases how thoughtful care and attention throughout the aging life can lead to an absolutely beautiful expression,” says Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson, who’s overseen this collection through so many great batches we’ve lost count.
Some whiskeys just surpass all adjectives
Tasting notes were surprisingly sparse for this release. At 114 proof, it’s going to be oak forward, regardless of what anyone says. Bourbon rarely gets to this age at all, much less without taking on dominant barrel notes from the years of wood contact. Wilson compares it to a decadent dessert, which evokes the silky, tannic richness of mouthfeel distinguished by the 2019 release.
Whiskeys this age often aren’t done justice by tasting notes anyway. If you’ve had a great one, you know that heavy richness, and that inky, earthy mix of sweet and spice.
Michter’s has always done incredible work with these ultra-old sourced whiskeys. Our apologies to other much sought-after bourbons of 20-plus years, but this is the stuff to seek out. Van Winkle may have never made a bad bourbon, but Michter’s has never put out anything less than incredible at this age. Even at 10 Year age statements, Michter’s make incredible products.
Earlier in 2021, the brand also released versions of its 10 Year Bourbon and 10 Year Rye, which marked another impressive year for the tens. Michter’s even managed to push out the first Toasted Barrel Bourbon release since 2018 during the summer.
There’s a catch with a bourbon this great
There’s very little bad we can say about this year’s Michter’s releases, but like a tiresome in-law, we did manage to find something: If this whiskey has one Achilles heel, it’s the price point—a spirit-drooping $750.
Michter’s doesn’t release a lot of these whiskeys. The bottle in the photo released by the distillery notes a batch size of just 582 bottles, which would border on a valid reason for a riot—if not for the sobering price.
We could wax poetic about the days when people didn’t appreciate whiskey this good. You can find bottles collecting dust on shelves, but we don’t really remember those days either. We could talk about the state of the industry, and the absurdity of there being a potentially illegal secondary market with steep resale prices.
But as much as we’d love to do some fist shaking, we’ll have to be careful with the glassware. This is full of supreme 20-year-old whiskey we’re drinking, after all. You should join us.