Michter's Looks to Lay Down More Whiskey, But All in Good Time

After eight years of renovations, Michter's Fort Nelson facility on Louisville’s Whiskey Row (far right) finally opened in 2019. Then came a pause during Covid-19, and it began reopening gradually in 2021. It's now seeing plentiful visitor traffic. The historic building houses a distillery and tasting room.

Michter's Looks to Lay Down More Whiskey, But All in Good Time

March 15, 2023 –––––– Shane English, , , ,

It was a typical year for Michter’s in 2022, as the Kentucky-based whiskey maker sold all the stock that its distilling and maturation team deemed ready for bottling. This year, Michter’s will continue to invest in making more whiskey, by adding new barrel houses and running additional distillation to make its perennially allocated whiskeys more widely available. Michter’s has also re-upped on efforts to attract fans to its Fort Nelson Distillery on Louisville’s Whiskey Row as the steady flow of visitors to Kentucky has returned.

“We’re making very significant capital expenditures to grow our production,” says Michter’s president Joe Magliocco. “We’ve made a conscious decision that we want to do everything we can to keep the quality as high as possible.” Recently, Michter’s brought back its 10 year old bourbon, after a hiatus in 2022. The hard-to-find whiskey retails for around $185 and comes in at 47.2% ABV. Earlier this year, Michter’s also put out the 2022 bottling of Celebration Sour Mash after dealing with delays and supply chain challenges at the end of last year. Celebration Sour Mash is among Michter’s rarest bottlings, and comes with a sticker price of $6,000.

The release of the 10 year old bourbon was held for a year because Michter’s master of maturation Andrea Wilson and master distiller Dan McKee saw the whiskey’s potential continue to get even better. “They said, if you’re willing to keep it one more year, it’d be really extraordinary,” he recounts.

Michter’s age-stated releases are sought after for a reason. The 10 and even rarer 20 year old whiskeys have received scores as high as 94 points from Whisky Advocate’s tasting panel for Batch 18I1371 of the 20 year old bourbon released in 2019 and 93 points for its 10 year old single barrel rye, also released in 2019.

Distillation for Michter’s has been centered at its 87,000-square-foot distillery in Shively for the last eight years, with recent releases in Michter’s flagship U.S.-1 line—bourbon, rye, unblended American, and sour mash whiskeys—all distilled at Shively. The site added a third shift in December in order to ramp up output. “We’re now distilling 24/7,” says Magliocco. “So we’re increasing production and laying down more whiskey over time.”

The Vendome stills that were in use at the original Michter's Distillery in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania were moved to Michter's Fort Nelson location on Whiskey Row in Louisville.

While the heart of Michter’s production is at the Shively site, the company does distill at its Fort Nelson facility on Whiskey Row, where the pot still system purchased from the original Michter’s Distillery in Pennsylvania is on display. Though the whiskeys distilled at Fort Nelson are some years away from bottling, Magliocco says Michter’s is weighing its options for release, given that the Fort Nelson whiskeys are stylistically distinct due to the use of the pot still. “I would anticipate that the Fort Nelson stuff is probably going to be its own releases,” he says, adding that no firm decisions have been made yet.

While production ramps up, Michter’s is also working to bring in more visitors to the Fort Nelson location. Currently, the site offers tours, tastings, and a full bar serving classic cocktails curated by David Wondrich, plus seasonal drinks created by the Michter’s team. With bourbon tourism continuing to grow, Magliocco says Fort Nelson has seen a spike in visitors and needs to step up to meet demand. “Within the first half of this year, we’re going to be doubling our tour sizes to try to meet the demand,” he says. “We’re also going to be extending the days that Fort Nelson is open.”

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