Michter's Rye Review [In Depth]

Michter's Single Barrel Rye

Alex author
Founder, writer
Michter's Single Barrel Rye header

Michter's Single Barrel Rye Details

Distillery: Michter’s

Type & Region: Rye, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 42.4%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: At least 4 years

Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet, muscat)

Price: $45-50

From the company website:

Renowned for rye – America’s oldest whiskey variety – since the earliest days of our history, we take the production of Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Rye extremely seriously. Our Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Rye is made from select American rye grain that is sheared to maximize the extraction of flavor from the grain. Ideal neat or in cocktails, every bottle comes from a single barrel – a unique attribute reflecting our extraordinary commitment to offering Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey of the absolute highest quality at every level of the Michter’s range. Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Rye is also available with personalized Fort Nelson Select labeling at Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery.

Michter's Rye overview

Michter’s Rye has a unique place in Michter’s core line of everyday available whiskeys – it’s the only one that’s single barrel. I don’t know why Michter’s decided to do that, but it is what it is. To that point, the bottle for this review comes from 23L3952.
There’s is one thing that I always find strange about Michter’s – their labels only indicate that the whiskey was bottled by Michter’s Distillery. If you look at most of the whiskeys from well known sourcers, such as Barrell, they will usually include “Distilled in [insert state]”. If a company distills it themselves, the label will usually have “Distilled and bottled”.
My point is that the wording gives the impression that Michter’s own distillate still hasn’t made it into the bottle, although it’s very possible that the whiskey in the 2023 releases are still sourced. I don’t really like that they’re not being transparent with this, because they really are one of the few that don’t provide any detail on distillation. The only indication that we have is Kentucky, which I guess is something.
The other thing I find odd is the very exact 42.7% ABV. Not 43%, but 42.7%. I think I recall that they use a lower entry proof, so the whiskey inherently leaves the barrel at a lower ABV as well. Nonetheless, the lower ABV is consistent across of their mainline whiskeys – 41.7% for the American Whiskey, 43% for the Sour Mash, and 45.7% for the bourbon. Clearly it’s working because it’s a very popular brand that sells very well.
This overview is more whiny than I intended, but oh well. Let’s discover if this offers a compelling experience that shuts me up in this Michter’s Single Barrel Rye review.
Michter's Single Barrel Rye back

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Michter's Rye smell

The scents start with honey, licorice, vanilla, and a fragrant oakiness up front, then pineapple, rose water, cinnamon, orange peel, dried apricot, mint, and a little caraway seed, cardamom, and roasted coffee. There is an interesting fragrant oakiness as if there were some sort of Maker’s 46-like French oak stave finish. Other than that though, Michter’s Single Barrel rye smells nice at first, but it doesn’t follow through with the entire experience so I’m not impressed yet.
The Bourbon and American Whiskey came out of the gate with more pop and depth. The rye-forward scents are there, meaning herbal and licorice sweetness, but there’s not much pop or impact yet.
After swirling and rest, I smell a denser mix of honey and licorice, followed by fragrant roasted oak, candied pineapple, vanilla, apricot, mint, rose water,clove, cardamom, and caraway seed. It smells a little bit more full than before, and that fragrant french oak-like oakiness adds a welcome level of depth and darkness.
Michter’s Single Barrel rye has decent depth, but I’m still not all that impressed by it. The oak is a double edged sword – it’s a nice addition, but it’s also the most interesting thing about this rye. It shouldn’t be that way. The rye sweetness, fruitiness, and herbalness should always be the star of a great rye, not the oak.
Michter’s Single Barrel Ryel has a lot of scents to enjoy (and I do), but they never have enough impact of depth to be meaningfully interesting or unique.
Michter's Single Barrel Rye front

Michter's Rye taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with honey, licorice, pineapple, roasted oak, darker vanilla, cinnamon, rose water, clove, and some caramel nougat and earthy pumpernickel, with light to moderate body, which is as expected for the 42.4% ABV.
Michter’s Single Barrel Rye isn’t as herbal as I expected for a rye. It’s definitely still herbal and fruity, as rye whiskeys usually are, but the balance actually shifts towards more effervescent oak, which I did not expect. It adds an extra roastiness that feels like a French oak stave finish.
After “chewing” I taste honey, licorice, toasted vanilla custard, candied pineapple, roasted oak, orange peel, clove, cardamom, darker caramel, rose water, caraway seed, and some ginger. Michter’s Single Barrel Rye has better body and expressiveness, but it still suffers from the lower ABV.
The aftertaste leaves honey, licorice, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, caraway seed, and ginger with lingering toastiness, licorice, and caramel.
There’s decently round and dark sweetness mixed into the herbal and fruity sweetness, plus the mature French oak-like oak for a little more complexity. Overall though, it all feels surface level because there’s not much in the way of pop or life, although the range is already there.
Michter’s Single Barrel Rye tastes good and feels well made, but it doesn’t feel all that interesting. It’s not flat or boring, but I feel like I’ve been here before over and over and over, so nothing stands out.
Michter's Single Barrel Rye neck
I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too. Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Michter's Rye Rating

Mid shelf+
I’m all over the place with this review. This particular barrel of Michter’s Single Barrel Rye is all nice and good and without a doubt worth of a “Mid Shelf+” rating, but I feel oddly uninspired by it at the same time. Objectively, it’s a well made rye, but it never seems to really engage me. I wish that I enjoyed it more.
That extra bit of fragrant and expressive oak is a pleasant and mature touch that makes me think that there’s a French oak finish of some kind, but I wish that it had more. I wish it had bursts of sweetness or more fullness to deliver a more compelling experience.
As-is, it doesn’t really stand out or feel all that interesting. It doesn’t really pop or feel vibrant in the way I want a great rye to be, although it’s not remotely boring, flat, or unpleasant. Purely from the drinking experience, disregarding the brand, it seems like it would get lost in the growing sea of well-made ryes.
Then again, the Michter’s brand name is well-established and popular, so that alone will get people to try it. If you happen to have already bought a bottle, then I think that Michter’s Rye offers a good enough experience that will satisfy. But if you haven’t purchased a bottle yet, I think that you can do better. It’s not a bad option but not an automatic buy.
If you want a Kentucky rye, I personally would recommend Green River Rye ($35), Pikesville Rye ($50-60 if you can find it), or Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye ($60). The last two are amazing “Top Shelf” whiskeys that I recommend.
If you go outside of Kentucky, then there’s Sagamore Spirit ($35), Sagamore Spirit Double Oak ($55-60) and Still Austin Cask Strength Rye ($65) among others. It really all depends on your budget.
I think that Michter’s more or less got it right with their Bourbon and American Whiskey, but Michter’s Rye doesn’t quite hit the mark, although it’s still a solid option.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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Shattered glass really sucks, so if you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)