My friend MvZ is quite a fan of old stuff. He wrote for the magazine of the Usquebaugh Society on the topic of old bourbon and old Irish whiskey. Luckily, he was also kind enough to trade some samples with me.
Unfortunately, for a lot of these older whiskeys, there’s a bit of a conundrum. As in, they’re all interesting because they offer a perspective into old time whiskey making, but in a lot, if not most, cases it’s more a gimmick than an actually cracking dram.
When you start going down history lane for bourbon, you get to the seventies, sixties and fifties pretty quickly. Although there’s still quite some palatable stuff going around, you notice that bourbon wasn’t popular at the time, and was steered towards a lighter style to accommodate the palate that was shifting towards vodka, at the time. You have to go back to before prohibition to get to the really interesting stuff.
Now, this insanely kitschy decanter in the shape of King Tut’s sarcophagus’ bust is from 1978, so the whiskey is most likely from the early seventies. Let’s find out where this one lands on the scale of deliciousness.
Very gentle with quite a lot of oak, mustiness and corn. Not overly sweet, with quite a lot of cigar leaves. Some cinnamon and nutmeg too.
A bit of peppery bite. Black pepper and some nutmeg, cinnamon. Quite hearty for a bourbon. Some popcorn, cigars, wood.
The finish is a bit sweeter, but still complex with corn, oak, black pepper.
It’s very easy drinking, and very smooth. It’s also clearly a lot lighter than contemporary bourbon, and prohibition era bourbon. I think it is even lighter than most other bourbons from these times that I’ve had.
Having said that, it’s not bad at all. The lightness luckily doesn’t translate to a sweet corn-syrupy mess. There’s quite some black pepper and oak, with hints of mustiness and baking spices. I actually quite like this, but I do think this would’ve been better at 50%.
Also, the bottle is so insanely hideous that only because of that I’d want a bottle.
Michter’s King Tutankhamun , bottled in 1978, 43%