When I first heard the term “sour mash” referred to as a type of whiskey a few years ago, I immediately had a negative view simply because of the name and my lack of knowledge as to what it truly means. I automatically thought sour mash meant the whiskey would have a sour taste and I wanted nothing to do with that. After all, it’s always been the sweetness of whiskey that had captured my enjoyment of its taste, so why break the mold?
I continued that way of thinking for a few years, but as my interest in whiskey picked up, I began to research different types of whiskey in more detail and one day I came across an article that explained what sour mash actually refers to. First off, sour mash has nothing to do with the taste being sour. That enlightenment alone gave me the courage to branch out and try something that I had avoided for many years due to ignorance. Much like the way sourdough bread is made, sour mash is simply left over fermented mash that is used to start the fermentation on another batch of whiskey. In fact, most bourbon is made using sour mash. It seems the term “sour mash” has less to do with the type of whiskey, as it does with the process of making a particular whiskey.
With a better understanding of the term “sour mash”, I’ve been able to branch out and enjoy different variations of whiskey. One in particular that I’ve recently enjoyed is Michter’s Small Batch Sour Mash Whiskey. This is another of their US-1 releases. I could not find a breakdown of the mash bill, but I assume it’s less than 51% corn since it’s not labeled a bourbon. My hunch is that it’s a little heavier on the rye. As far as my experience, I found the nose to have floral and citrus scents. The body and texture in the mouth was very light, but the taste brought notes of apple pie and hints of oak, with a slight spiciness in the finish. It’s bottled at 86 proof, but to me brings a little more hotness than other whiskies bottled at a similar proof. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable whiskey and my friends seemed to agree with me as we shared a bottle earlier tonight.
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