A Tiny Amount of Michter’s Barrel Strength Bourbon is Hitting Shelves Ahead of the Kentucky Derby

Michter's Barrel Strength Bourbon. Courtesy Michter's.
Michter's Barrel Strength Bourbon. Courtesy Michter's.

Limited supplies of Michter’s Barrel Strength Bourbon are arriving in shops this week, likely in an effort to stock shelves one last time before the Derby.

Bottles of Michter’s Barrel Strength Bourbon with 2018 bottling dates quietly began appearing with a limited numbers of retailers this week, just over two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. The supplies are entirely allocated to Kentucky retailers.

“Ahead of Derby, we released some US*1 Barrel Strength Bourbon,” said a spokesperson for Michter’s in an email. They further explained that the release was entirely limited to Kentucky.

This is nothing new. Michter’s Barrel Strength Bourbon, which was first released in 2017, also made its first appearance as an exclusive for the Commonwealth, and no nationwide release has ever occurred. A statement about the product on the Michter’s website reads, “In the future, we hope to be in a position to make this whiskey more available. We very much appreciate our loyal Michter’s drinkers who have been so understanding and so supportive through our whiskey shortages.”

Meanwhile, a 2019 batch of Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye, which was publicly announced a few weeks ago, is also hitting shelves. We tasted that batch earlier this month.

But the Barrel Strength Bourbon release was not announced, and seems to be targeted at bars and shops ahead of one of Kentucky’s biggest bourbon-selling weekends of the year.

So if you’re going to be in town, might as well have a look around; there’s a chance, however small, one of these bottles or other great limited editions might still be on shelves, even where you live.

G. Clay Whittaker
Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.