Whiskey Nips: Michter's Distillery
The original Michter’s distillery was built in 1753 in Pennsylvania, closed during prohibition, and reopened afterward while undergoing multiple name changes under different owners. Production slowed down in the 70s and 80s due to low demand, until it was abandoned in 1990. The current Michter’s brand was resurrected in the late 90s, when Joseph Magliocco, President of Chatham Imports, decided to open a distillery and saw that the Michter’s name was not trademarked. He partnered with Dick Newman, former President of Austin Nichols, and they began to operate as a non-distiller producer (NDP), sourcing bourbon and whiskey to have product to sell. Their mash sources are undisclosed, but Fred Minnick claims that it comes from Brown Forman.
Michter’s hired Willie Pratt to be their master distiller. Pratt had retired from Brown Forman, but wanted back in the business and this was his chance. He started by examining the original Michter’s whiskey to see if he could reproduce the formula. It did not turn out the same, but he thought it was better. With no distillery, Pratt oversaw production and contracted with other distilleries overseeing things like the mash bills and barrel entry proof. He wanted a low entry proof of 103 to help recreate that flavor profile that he was looking for. The barrels were aged in a heat cycled warehouse with no set period of aging. Besides special releases, the Michter’s products do not carry an age statement.
Michter’s purchased property in 2011 with the plan to convert it into a distillery and produce their own product. They began distilling in August 2015 with Pratt still at the helm, but just a little over a year later he retired. To make sure a successor was in place, Magliocco and Pratt approached Pam Heilmann, who was the former distillery manager at the Booker Noe Plant. She was excited to join Michter’s and help them to build from the ground up. She became one of Kentucky’s first female master distillers and is highly regarded in the industry today. We won’t get to taste the products that she has distilled for a few more years, but with the standards that Michter’s has with their products, I am definitely be looking forward to tasting them.