bomberger's declaration review

Michter's Bomberger's Declaration Bourbon 2020 Release

Bomberger's Declaration

Distillery: Michter’s

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 54%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: NAS

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $100 MSRP

From the Michter’s website:

“The 2020 Release of Bomberger’s is a flavorful Kentucky Straight Bourbon with a distinctively smooth character that belies its 108 proof strength. For the aging of this release, our Master of Maturation chose barrels made from special wood that has been naturally air dried for over 3 years. While some Chinquapin oak barrels were utilized in the maturation of the 2019 release, this year our production team opted to increase the proportion of the bourbon that spent time in Chinquapin oak. The special cooperage elevates the unique attributes of this wonderful Kentucky straight bourbon.”

Company Website

bomberger's declaration overview

Bomberger’s Declaration Bourbon is a mystery to me, and I don’t think much is known about it. To my understanding, it’s a Michter’s bourbon that first appeared in 2018 and is released once a year, with Shenk’s Homestead, to honor Michter’s heritage when it was still located in Pennsylvania and named Bomberger’s / Shenks (depending on the time period).


What makes this Kentucky straight bourbon (from an unknown source) unique, just like Shenk’s Homestead, is that a portion of the bourbon is aged in chinquapin / chinkapin oak, a type of white oak native to the US that’s not as frequently used to create barrels. The only chinquapin-aged bourbon I can think of is Buffalo Trace’s Old Charter Chinkapin Oak, but good luck finding that one. Each year, the blend in Bomberger’s has included more chinquapin-aged bourbon, making every release different. For what it’s worth, I have no idea what this oak does to bourbon that’s different than the usual white oak, but I guess I’ll find out. Even with so much mystery surrounding this bourbon, let’s uncover what we can in this 2020 Bomberger’s Declaration Bourbon review.

bomberger's declaration smell

Bomberger’s Declaration 2020 emits dark toffee, caramel nougat, smoked old wood, walnut shells, dried tobacco, candied citrus peel, dried cherries, candied berries, vanilla buttercream with a little funk, and a hint of dry grassiness and cinnamon. There’s a ton of darkness here, but not overpoweringly so, that makes me think that this is 10-12 years old, although Michter’s will never tell. There’s certainly a noticeable old oak and wood spice presence, but it’s also the combination of all that dark sugar, char, light nuttiness, and dark fruits that contribute to the overarching darkness and uniqueness. Even though right now there is some kick from the 54% ABV, it was much hotter a few weeks before. I tried a glass before doing a bottle split, so it’s been airing out in a 1/3 full bottle for a few weeks, giving Bomberger’s time to mellow. Let it breathe as much as you can.

 

Swirling changes up the nose, bringing out more charred caramel, real maple syrup, airy honeycomb, smoked oak, tobacco, toasted vanilla mixed with dried berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried ginger, dark apples, and a little grass and almonds. Bomberger’s Declaration has this distinctive and mature oaky and walnutty smell, possibly from the chinquapin oak. The wonderful roasted sugars and rich charred oak drive the nose, as if it were a double oaked bourbon (e.g., Woodford Reserve Double Oaked). For me, the tobacco notes are a sign of an excellent bourbon (just my personal preference), and reminds me of Lux Row 12 Year Double Barrel Bourbon, sourced from Heaven Hill. Bomberger’s Declaration smells incredible, and it has grown on me over time as it has aired out in the bottle.

bomberger's declaration taste & aftertaste

The flavors start off sweet yet dry with tons of caramel, sliced orange, cherry, vanilla, and a lot of dried but not super dark or tannic oak (right in the sweet spot where it’s still flavorful and pleasant). There’s also a light nuttiness, like macadamia nut, and the flavors lean a little more dry and oaky, but remain quite sweet, flavorful, and great. The bite isn’t bad either.

 

With “chewing”, Bomberger’s Declaration has a mix of sweet yet dried caramel, honeycomb, fire-roasted vanilla cream, roasted oak, tobacco, dried ginger, candied citrus peel, apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bomberger’s has this distinctive savory and oaky quality that I can’t quite describe. It’s sweet and roasted, not quite like barbeque, with the extra oak adding roasted but not tannic or burnt notes, sort of coming together like pecan-pie. It’s not all roasted sweetness though, Bombergers also has a mint / eucalyptus air to it that sometimes flows through my nose like horseradish, but nowhere near as intense. The 108 proof has some bite, but air helps tame it. Overall though, Bomberger’s Declaration is an awesomely well developed, rich, and flavorful bourbon, although it’s not necessarily very complex. It tastes so good though.

 

On the finish, Bomberger’s is dry and oaky, but not overly tannic, with dried ginger, honey, caramel, candied citrus, dry almonds, and chocolate. After “chewing”, the finish has more of that dry sweetness with caramel, roasted vanilla, dried oak, grass, and candied citrus with long lingering and wonderful tobacco, dark chocolate, and eucalyptus. This probably would pair very well with a cigar given how roasted it is. 

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Top Shelf

Bomberger’s Declaration is an amazing bourbon, but it’s not without its rough edges. If you are lucky enough to own a bottle, I recommend that you let Bomberger’s Declaration breathe for as long as possible to tame the heat, because the first few pours can be hot and unbalanced. Once it gets enough air and reaches the sweet spot, Bomberger’s Declaration becomes an amazingly sweet, savory, roasted, and slightly nutty dessert-like whiskey, part pecan pie and part roasted crème brulee that I find unique for bourbon. As unimaginative as it is to write, it’s just excellent and I’m impressed.


I really like how it’s so dark, rich, and oaky yet not unpleasantly dry or burnt, making it a wonderful bourbon to enjoy. I don’t know much about chinquapin oak, but I would guess that the higher percentage of bourbon aged in chinquapin oak contributes to those unique roasted flavors in what I think is a 10-12 year old bourbon (just personal speculation). I’m glad that I bought a second bottle because this has really grown on me as I’ve drank this over the past 2 months, and now has become impossible to find around where I live. This one is worth buying for the unique and delicious experience, if the price is right for you. 

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