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Distilled Spirits: Michters American Whiskey Legacy Tracing Back to 1753

Michter’s Legacy

THE EARLY YEARS: REVOLUTIONARY RYE IN SCHAEFFERSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Originally known as Shenk’s and later as Bomberger’s, the whiskey company which ultimately became known as Michter’s was founded by John Shenk, a Swiss Mennonite farmer, in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753. In its earliest days, Shenk’s produced whiskey from rye grain, a favorite local crop in the Pennsylvania Blue Mountain Valley where the distillery was located.

According to Pennsylvania historical lore, commemorated by the Lebanon Valley Coin Club in 1978, this particular rye whiskey was so valued that when the Revolutionary War broke out, General George Washington visited the distillery and purchased whiskey to fortify his men as they hunkered down in their camp through the long, brutal winter at Valley Forge. Over 200 years later the Michter’s Pennsylvania management would say Michter’s was “the whiskey that warmed the American Revolution.”

In the mid-1800s, Pennsylvania Dutchman Abraham Bomberger purchased the distillery and it became known for many decades as Bomberger’s.

MIDLIFE CRISES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: FROM PROHIBITION TO BANKRUPTCY

The passage of Prohibition in 1919 forced the distillery, along with other American spirits producers, to shut its doors to the public. Although the distillery did reopen after the repeal of Prohibition, it changed hands many times over the next few decades and frequently occupied a precarious financial position. During the 1950s, Lou Forman, one of the distillery’s then-owners, created the modern Michter’s brand name by combining portions of his sons’ names – Michael and Peter.

In 1989, with the entire American whiskey industry suffering a prolonged downturn, Michter’s then-owners declared bankruptcy and abandoned the premises, leaving its Pennsylvania operations in disrepair and the Michter’s name – seemingly – lost to history… were it not for a fortuitous connection to two whiskey lovers with an abiding admiration for the old Michter’s legacy and quality.

RESTORING A LEGEND: HONORING MICHTER’S LEGACY WITH A RESURGENCE IN KENTUCKY

In the 1990s, Joseph J. Magliocco and his consultant and mentor Richard “Dick” Newman teamed up to resurrect Michter’s. Magliocco, who entered the wine and spirits industry after attending Yale College and graduating from Harvard Law School, was intimately familiar with Michter’s through his college days of imbibing, bartending, and selling Michter’s.

Newman meanwhile, had followed up his service in the US Marine Corps (for which he earned a Purple Heart) with an illustrious career in the whiskey business, eventually running Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow, and Old Taylor for National Distillers before becoming President and CEO of Austin Nichols, the distiller of Wild Turkey.

Magliocco and Newman began with a simple strategy – to honor the Michter’s legacy by producing the best whiskey possible, cost be damned! After filing for the unused and abandoned Michter’s trademark, they made their first major strategic decision: to resurrect Michter’s in Kentucky, in the heart of the modern American whiskey industry, to ensure access to the best whiskey talent and resources available.

MODERN-DAY MICHTER’S: OFFERING THE GREATEST AMERICAN WHISKEY

Today, Michter’s has three locations in Kentucky – a 78,000 square foot distillery in the Shively section of Louisville, the architecturally significant Fort Nelson Building on Louisville’s Museum Row and 145 acres of farm land in Springfield.

 

 

Michter’s US1 Whiskeys

The US1 expressions, so named to honor Michter’s heritage harkening back to America’s first whiskey company, consist of some of the finest single barrel and truly small batch whiskeys available. Distilled to Master Distiller Pam Heilmann’s exacting specifications, no US1 whiskey is ever released until Pam and the Michter’s tasting panel deems it ready.


whiskey-imgRenowned 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 US1 KENTUCKY STRAIGHT RYE.

  •  Single barrel. Limited quantities.
  •  Kentucky
  •  84.8 proof (42.4% Alcohol by Volume)
  •  Fire-charred, new American white oak barrels
  •  Spice with peppery notes, citrus, butterscotch, oak

 

 

 

whiskey-imgDuring the 1970s and 1980s, Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey was the distillery’s single most popular product. While the “Sour Mash” moniker originated from the whiskey production process of the same name – whereby some previously fermented mash is used as the starter for the new mash to be fermented, much like making sourdough bread – Michter’s Original Sour Mash earned distinction for its unique taste. With its unique grain selection, it cannot be categorized as a rye or a bourbon. After disappearing from the market in 1989, Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey made a triumphant return in 2012 with its introduction into the US1 line. Staying true to the profile and palate of its predecessor, Michter’s US1 Sour Mash has quickly become a favorite of whiskey enthusiasts.

  •  Small batch. Limited quantities.
  •  Kentucky
  •  86 proof (43% Alcohol by Volume)
  •  Fire-charred, new American white oak barrels
  • Warm toasted burnt sugar notes with spice, sweet, smoky fruit, candied cherries, and honeyed vanilla, remarkably elegant. Starts out like a bourbon, finishes like a rye.

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