Michter’s announced the limited release of its 2015 bottling of the US 1 Bourbon Toasted Barrel Finish.

This was one of my favorite products of 2014 and joined the Belle Meade Sherry Cask Bourbon as my favorite special-barrel finished products of the year.

These special barrel finished products are becoming increasingly popular. Angel’s Envy, Woodford Reserve Double Oak and Maker’s 46 likely lead the category in case sales. But Michter’s Toasted might be the hardest to find. The company said this year’s release is on allocation, a familiar word to bourbon lovers who seek these limited releases.

Michter's 2015 Toasted Bourbon-2How the second barrel finishes work: They take whiskey from its original barrel and dump it into a new-to-that whiskey barrel that typically range from Port or Sherry barrels to specially toasted or charred new oak barrels. In the beginning, many wondered how they’re still able to label the products “bourbon,” a term that does not allow used cooperage. But as mentioned in Bourbon Curious, the government permits this labeling as long as it says “bourbon finished in…” whatever the barrel is.

With that said, I love these special barrel finishes and think they’re a much better use of an innovator’s time than slapping lab-created flavors in a whiskey tank. (Breathe, breathe, don’t go down a flavored whiskey rant….)

Moving onto Michter’s, this year’s second barrel is comprised of 18-month air dried oak that is toasted not charred. Charring is pure flame, encompassing the entire barrel, while toasting is a less intense flame and does not reach the barrel all at once. Probably the best analogy I can give on a smaller scale is toasting is brushing a lighter over a surface and charring is using a flame thrower.

When it comes to the special barrel releases, some add flavoring or coloring, namely in the ryes. In Michter’s press release, the company said: “it is Kentucky Straight Bourbon with nothing extra added or done except placement in a second toasted barrel.”

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon is bottled at 91.4 proof, the same proof as Michter’s US1 Bourbon. It hits stores this fall with a suggested retail price of $53 per 750 ml bottle in the United States.

Michter’s is also expected to release its 20-year-old bourbon later this year.