Posts Tagged ‘Michter’s’

Michter’s Cuts Toasted Barrel for 2016 and Announces Expansion

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Author Melanie GochnauerMichter’s announced that they will not be releasing their Toasted Barrel bourbon in 2016. In a press release issued today they indicated a shortage of bourbon as the reason. Michter’s distillery president, Joseph J. Magliocco, stated that it was a difficult decision to make, but necessary, “The problem is every drop of our Toasted Barrel Bourbon that we release this year is one less drop of our Michter’s US*1 Bourbon that we have to allocate to our distributors and importers.”

383331Expansion is underway at Michter’s distillery to remedy the shortage. The current capacity of the Louisville, Ky. facility is 500,000 proof gallons per year. When operations resume in August, after a maintenance shutdown period, the capacity will be doubled to 1,000,000 proof gallons per year. 

Read the full details here.


The Man Comes Around

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Author - Sam KomlenicIt’s Valentine’s Day, 1990.  Dick Stoll, last master distiller at Michter’s distillery near Schaefferstown, Pa., protege of C. Everett Beam, and distiller of the now-vaunted A.H. Hirsch bourbon, receives a call from the bank that holds the note to the once-proud property. After years of mismanagement and financial impropriety under multiple owners, he is told to lock the doors for the last time…it’s over, for good. On that cold February day, Dick Stoll is the last man standing at the last distillery in Pennsylvania. He is 57 years old.

With a family to provide for and not a lot to show for more than 25 years of hard work, Dick takes a construction job and later finds steady employment with the Lebanon County school district as a maintenance man. He eventually retires and takes pleasure in visiting other American distilleries with his wife Elaine, whom he’d met when she was a tour guide at Michter’s.

There remain people who remember his accomplishments, and one of them eventually unites Dick with a young couple, Erik Wolfe and Avianna Ponzi Wolfe, who have their own vision: bringing whiskey distilling back to the Lebanon-Lancaster area. Together they set up a partnership, source and blend bourbon and rye whiskeys from other distilleries under their Stoll & Wolfe label, and put together plans to open a distillery in historic Lititz, Pa. with Dick at the controls.

In the meantime, in order to get their own product into the pipeline, they work with Thomas McKenzie of Craft Distillery Resources to identify a craft distiller with a column still (what they’ll be installing in their own location) who is willing to do contract work for them.

299After a bit of searching, Silverback distillery in Afton, Virginia, opened less than two years earlier by Christine and Denver Riggleman, is chosen and things begin to fall into place. Silverback is state-of-the-art for a craft column operation and turns out to be the perfect partner for this endeavor. A mashbill of 60% rye, 30% corn, and 10% malt is formulated, cooperage is sourced, a date is set, and the deal is done. Just one more thing to do: make some whiskey.

About 1500 gallons of mash are cooked up a few days in advance, the yeast is pitched, and on March 21, 2016 the Stoll & Wolfe team heads to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains to help their dream move one step closer to reality. Along with Silverback distiller Christine Riggleman and her able crew, Dick Stoll, now a vibrant and active 82 years young, is on hand to oversee distillation of the first batch of whiskey he’s made in more than 30 years.

Around 9:30 a.m. the steam valve is opened, the pump is engaged, and the still is started. As the column fills with cascading rye whiskey mash, the thumper soon begins to bang away as it warms to the task at hand. Not long after, Dick is looking at new make of his own design pouring into the receiver at 140 proof.

Samples are taken, proofed down, and passed around, and everyone is pleased with the result: a creamy, soft, rye-forward spirit that should, in time, age to meet expectations. Despite Stoll’s extensive experience with the sour mash process, Stoll & Wolfe whiskey is being made entirely using sweet mash, a nod to eastern U.S. distilling tradition.

Though the shiny 12-inch diameter, 27-foot high Vendome still can’t compare in size to the 60-inch, 72-foot tall copper behemoth Dick ran back in the day, he’s obviously excited by what’s going on all around him and asks and answers questions throughout the run. “We got 50 barrels in an eight-hour day back then,” he says when he’s told that today’s run should net six or seven.

The limitations of the 12-inch column become apparent as the day progresses and everyone realizes that this batch will take at least ten hours to complete.  The last of the run is left in the capable hands of Silverback operations manager Brad Bridge. The Stolls and Wolfes will return in the morning to barrel the whiskey.

316At 10 a.m. on Tuesday everything is in place. The white dog has been proofed down to 109 for barrel entry (109 was the entry proof at his last distillery job, before cost cutting measures forced it to 115) and cooperage is lined up to be filled. Dick takes the faucet and fills the first barrel. He is asked how much head space he’s used to leaving. “Just enough so that the end of your finger touches the whiskey,” is his seat-of-the-pants reply.

He’s then handed a dead-blow hammer and drives the bung home with the same solid delivery he’d applied as a much younger man. Satisfied, he poses with the first filled barrel of Stoll & Wolfe rye whiskey and smiles.

Life can be truly unpredictable, even unfathomable.  When Dick locked up that now-demolished Pennsylvania distillery all those years ago, the whiskey business was in the doldrums worldwide, and at the time there was no end in sight. Distillers like Jimmy Russell and Parker Beam felt the hard times too, but working for well managed companies with deeper pockets they were able to weather the storm and stay in the business.

319Life dealt Dick Stoll a different hand, but with the renaissance of American whiskey came new opportunities, and one of those just happened to have Dick’s name engraved on it. Now, more than a quarter-century later, Dick Stoll is back in the whiskey business and happy as all hell to be part of it again.

Welcome back, Dick.  It’s been a long time coming.

The top ten rated whiskies from the spring 2013 issue of Whisky Advocate

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The ten highest-rated whiskies from Whisky Advocate’s spring issue are being announced right here, today, before the magazine hits the streets. Our list begins with the #10 whisky and ends with the #1 rated whisky of the issue.

#10: Wiser’s Legacy, 45%, C$50
Winemakers have long known that toasted oak is very spicy. Today’s whisky makers are slowly catching on. Cinnamon hearts and hot peppermint add zing to a rich and creamy mouthfeel. Although the whisky is not overly sweet, it has a candied feel. Cloves and hot pepper round out the spices while vanilla and butterscotch lend smoothness as they keep earthy, flinty rye notes under control. Essences of cedar cigar box and black, withered figs contribute additional complexity. —Davin de Kergommeaux
Highwood 25 year old Calgary Stampede Centennial

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#9: Highwood 25 year old Calgary Stampede Centennial, 40%, C$52

A few years ago, Alberta’s Highwood distillers purchased all the remaining stock from Potter’s whisky brokerage just over the Rocky Mountains in Kelowna. With it, Highwood skillfully created a sumptuous, limited-edition bottling that is as sweet, smooth, and creamy as French vanilla ice cream, and richer in fresh clean wood than a carpentry shop. Dried cloves and red cedar balance real maple syrup and butterscotch which, in turn, dissolve into sweet white grapefruit. (Alberta only) —Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#8: Old Pulteney 40 year old, 51.3%,  £1,490
Old Pulteney 40 yo
The oldest bottling of Old Pulteney to date has been matured in American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks, and was personally bottled by distillery manager Malcolm Waring. The nose of this highly accomplished veteran is fragrant and waxy, with cooking apples, milk chocolate orange, Christmas spices, vanilla, and fudge. Initially, the substantial palate offers spicy fresh fruits, seasoned timber, then a hint of brine, with sultanas and plain chocolate. The finish is figgy, gingery, and sherried.  — Gavin Smith

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#7: Alberta Premium Dark Horse, 45%, C$30Alberta Premium Dark Horse

For six decades, Alberta Premium has been one of Canada’s favorite economy-brand mixers. Floral, herbal, and fruity, with charcoal and wet slate, this new addition to the lineup is clearly meant for connoisseurs. While the original is made entirely from rye grain, Dark Horse beefs up the flavor and body with a dollop of corn whisky and a sherry finish, creating a vanilla-rich symphony of pepper, hot ginger, pickle juice, and crisp, clean oak. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92

#6: Big Peat Small Batch, 53.6%, $48

The original Big Peat was a mix of smoky Islay malts and was already up there with the very best competition in the category, even though many of the others were bottled at cask strength. I scored it at 90. Now it’s back to play in the big boys’ pool with a killer cask strength whisky of its own. This is to whisky what AC/DC is to heavy rock: old school, predictable, but great and exactly what fans want.  — Dominic RoskrowGibson's Finest Rare 18

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92

#5: Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 year old, 40%, C$75

A quintessential Canadian whisky that holds fresh-cut lumber, hot white pepper, and creamy oak caramels in delicate balance. Long years in oak have delivered a range of complex flavors that evolve slowly in the glass and on the tongue. Sweet vanilla contrasts with dusty rye, while a drop of pickle juice slowly matures into poached pears with cloves. Dry grain ripens into fresh-baked biscuits before it all fades away in clean oak and citrus pith. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#4: Millstone Sherry Cask 12 year old, 46%, €60
Millstone sherry cask 12 year oldLR

Millstone is made by Zuidam, a Dutch spirits and liquor company that prides itself on never cutting corners and in using the very finest ingredients. There are hundreds of European distilleries making spirit, but few this good. Its malt and rye whiskies have always been special, but this is Premier League, a world class sherried 12 year old that matches many sherried Scotch whiskies flavor to flavor. That’s a first for Europe.  — Dominic RoskrowMichter's 20 year old bourbon

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#3: Michter’s (Barrel No. 1646) 20 year old, 57.1%, $450

A soothing bourbon, with maple syrup, blackberry preserve, polished leather, roasted nuts, marzipan, vanilla toffee, dusty dates, subtle tobacco, and a hint of pedro ximinez sherry. Soft, flavorful finish. The oak is kept in check, with layered sugars and fruit for balance. The price of admission is steep, but this whiskey is very satisfying. –John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003

#2: Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 Vintage (Barrel No. 1), 43.3%, $26

Silky smooth. Lush honey notes married with bright orchard fruit and candied tropical fruit. Soft vanilla, mint, and cinnamon round out the palate.  Seamless and perilously drinkable. Proof that a bourbon doesn’t have to be old, high in alcohol, or expensive to be good. –John HansellMasterson's Rye 10 yr old

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#1: Masterson’s Straight Rye, 45%, $70

A seamless fusion of rain-moistened earth, gunnysacks, and searing white pepper underpins the delicately bitter grain-like notes of fresh-baked rye bread. Lilacs and violets speak of rye grain, as do delicate cloves and tingling ginger, while dark stewed fruits attest to age. A mingling of hand-selected barrels of 10 year old all rye whisky, Masterson’s is redolent of vintage car leather and kiln-dried burley tobacco, with touches of dry herbs and spearmint. Sweet vanilla envelops early butterscotch. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94



Some whisky highlights from WhiskyFest San Francisco

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

WhiskyFest San Francisco was this past Friday. I had a chance to try some new whiskies while I was there and would like to share my thoughts. Some of these are so new, they haven’t even been formally released yet. I was just offered pre-release samples to taste.

One of my favorite whiskies of the evening was a Samaroli Glenlivet 1977 Vintage. It was elegant, well-rounded, and subtly complex. Very nice!

The U.S. finally has Japanese whisky besides Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu. Nikka is making its formal debut at WhiskyFest New York in two weeks, but the importer was also pouring Taketsuru 12 year old “Pure Malt” and Yoichi 15 year old single malt at the San Francisco event. The 12 year old, a blend of malts, was nicely rounded and easy to drink, while the 15 year old was very distinctive. My feeling on Japanese whisky is: the more the merrier!

Angel’s Envy has two new whiskeys coming out. The first one is a barrel-proof version of their flagship Angel’s Share bourbon that’s finished in port pipes. The other one is a high-rye whiskey that is currently being finished off in a Caribbean rum cask. I tasted both. Both were very interesting. The high rye/rum finish combination was unique.

Wild Turkey is finally coming out with a new whiskey that’s not 81 proof! (Thank goodness!) There’s a new Russell’s Reserve Small Batch being released soon that’s 110 proof, with no age statement.

I was able to taste the next Evan Williams Single Barrel vintage release (a 2003 vintage). It was very smooth, easy-going, and dangerously drinkable.

There’s a new Michter’s 20 year old single barrel about to be released. I was concerned that it was going to taste too woody, dry and tannic. Not a chance! I was so impressed with this whiskey, that I kept taking people I knew over to the Michter’s booth to taste it before it disappeared. (Well, it wasn’t officially there in the first place, but I did my best to spread the word.) I know this was a single barrel, but I sure hope they all taste like this!

Gable Erenzo had a unmarked bottle of a Hudson Bourbon he wanted me to try. It was a six year old Hudson bourbon matured in a standard 53 gallon barrel (not a small barrel!) and it was the best Hudson whiskey I have tasted to date. Thanks for the tease, Gable…

One of the most pleasant experience of the evening wasn’t even a whisky. It was a beer! At the Anchor booth, they were pouring Anchor Steam that was bottled just five hours earlier. Damn that beer was fresh. It was the best Anchor Steam beer I ever had outside of the brewery. So, if you saw me walking around with a glass of Anchor Steam, now you know why!

Finally, I couldn’t resist sitting in on one of the seminars: a flight of Bowmore whiskies paired with a variety of West Coast oysters that were flown in that day and shucked right in front of us.  Delicious!