September 2011

New Kentucky Home

By: Fred Minnick

Michter’s is a name of whiskey legend. The whiskey brand’s heritage dates back to 1753, when Swiss Mennonite farmers distilled rye whiskey in Pennsylvania. George Washington famously purchased this whiskey for his troops wintering at Valley Forge. After the Whiskey Rebellion in the late 1700s, most whiskey producers moved to Kentucky. But not the ancestors of Michter’s.

Michter’s Master Distiller Willie Pratt (left) and Joe Magliocco, President of Michter’s Distillery LLC, toast the brand’s move to a new facility in Louisville.
Although its Pennsylvania distillery went defunct in the 1980s, Michter’s labels continued to be produced. Rare bottles can often be found on eBay for anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Since the early 2000s, Michter’s has been produced at a confidential Kentucky distillery. But the brand recently announced a new $7.8 million distillery located at the historic Fort Nelson Building in downtown Louisville. The site is across the street from the famous Louisville Slugger Museum.

“We are thrilled to welcome Michter’s to downtown Louisville,” says Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. “Not only will this project create new jobs and preserve one of the most historically significant structures in Louisville, it will also add a new chapter to Kentucky’s proud bourbon-making heritage.”

The legendary Michter’s name dates back to 1753.

Michter’s is bringing a strong lineup of high-quality whiskeys to that heritage. Michter’s produces Unblended American Whiskey, Single Barrel Rye, 10 Year Old Single Barrel Rye, 25 Year Old Rye, Small Batch Bourbon, 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon and 25 Year Old Bourbon. Most of these are older than the age statement, says Master Distiller Willie Pratt, a former Brown-Forman distiller. The 10 Year Old Bourbon, Pratt says, is actually made up of 17-year-old spirits.

All Michter’s products are aged in a climate-controlled warehouse. Whatever the age, all the Michter’s whiskeys deliver the same smooth, spicy characteristics that has earned them numerous medals, as well as Food & Wine magazine’s “Best American Whiskey,” which went to the 10 Year
Old Bourbon.

At his new distillery, Pratt plans to play with new mashbills that will include different corn and rye varieties. “We’re looking to experiment with all sorts of things, while maintaining our premium status,” Pratt says.

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