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A.H.Hirsch 16 Y.O. Reserve Bourbon Whiskey (700ml) - Gold Foil Bottling
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- ABV 45.8%
Michter’s Distillery in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania was the foster home of A.H. Hirsch Reserve bourbon. Dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, Michter’s was distilling whiskey. As early as 1753 there was a small distillery on this Pennsylvania farmstead; that’s long before Kentucky was even settled. Thirty years later the farm’s owner decided to concentrate on whiskey production, which makes it one of the oldest commercial distilleries in the United States. The distillery stayed in the family for years until Abe Bomberger, a relative by marriage, bought it in 1860, gave the distillery its primary name—his—and distilled rye there until Prohibition closed him down. During prohibition, the plant was sold to a local farmer, who may have fired up the old stills every so often just to keep his neighbors happy. Louis Forman took it over in 1942, but he left abruptly to serve in the Army, not returning until 1950. It was then that he discovered records from Abe Bomberger’s time of ownership, and Forman began researching the history of the distillery and the methods once used to produce the whiskey. He decided to install a pot still, and hired Charles Everett Beam as master distiller. Mr. Beam—a direct descendant of Jacob Beam himself—was delighted at the opportunity to make great bourbon—the kind he had never been allowed to make because it was deemed too expensive; Mr. Forman, on the other hand, was committed to craft good whiskey, regardless of the cost. Hence, Michter’s Pot Still Whisky hit the market. It was 1956.
Adolf H. Hirsch, a former executive of the Schenley Co., bought some aged stocks of the whiskey and bottled a 16 year old and a 20 year old [sold out] under the A.H. Hirsch label, and the classic pot still bourbon was long ago transferred to stainless steel tanks to keep it from ageing further. Fortunately Henry Preiss kept the historic brand alive, but this extraordinary spirit exists on borrowed time. Michter’s Distillery finally closed in 1988 after making the only post-Prohibition pot still Bourbon in America. The vacant Michter’s Distillery itself, despite being listed on the National Historic Register, has passed through several hands since it closed, and has sadly become a dilapidated shell of its former self; the old rickhouses a reminder of a more spirited past. Hirsch Reserve stands in the class of top-flight single malt scotch whisky and Grand Champagne cognac.
"For five years I've been waiting for this Bourbon to come my way. It's always bothered me that I hadn't given any native whiskey a five star rating in 22 previous Spirits Journal issues. But, the fact is that while I've greatly admired more than a few homegrown whiskies and have handed out four stars to twelve Bourbons and one Tennessee Sour Mash, that one American whiskey that had the stuff to transport me to distilled spirit nirvana remained elusive ... until this issue. Lustrous, rich medium amber-orange with copper-russet highlights; the tight, compact nose has sensuous fragrances of spiced orange, walnut, corn husk, a touch of resin, and most prominently, nougat - while it's anything but expansive, the bouquet subtly draws me in, forcing me to inhale deeper - in the process, layers of aroma unwrap like the delicate skins of an onion - it's as seductive and coy a Bourbon nose as I've come across; in the mouth, this robust, but polite Bourbon confidently offers happily married tastes of caramel, oats, coffee, wood smoke, maple syrup, oak, controlled alcohol, and raisins; there's even a slim trace of sweet sherry in the sublime, firm, heady aftertaste; clearly the best bourbon I've evaluated for Spirits Journal to date."
– tasting note sourced from Paul Pacult, The Spirit Journal, November 1994
Further notes… Brilliant burnished amber hue. Lush toffee, dried fruit, and flint aromas. A rich entry leads to a dense medium-to full-bodied palate with burnt caramel, mellow brown spices, and deeply toasted American oak flavors. Finishes with a balanced wave of spicy pepper. Wonderfully poised with a distinctly even, round quality. 45.8% Alc./Vol.
International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal.
RATED: 94 points (Exceptional)
- tasting note sourced from tasting.com
Further notes... nose: waxy honeycomb embedded in marzipan and dark chocolate; palate: again the honey is at the centre of things with a soft, corny development; more Lubek marzipan, this time with a soft, sweet lemon centre. The mouth feel is exceptional; finish: smaller grains here and developing firmer, drier oak. Rating: 91 points- tasting note sourced from Jim Murray, Whiskey Bible 2006