Bomberger’s is a name familiar to many in the bourbon community, especially those who know their bourbon history. The Bomberger’s distillery has roots dating back to the mid-1700’s when John and Michael Shenk, two Swiss Mennonite farmers, began distilling rye whiskey in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. Their distillery was subsequently acquired by Abraham Bomberger who operated it up until it succumbed to prohibition. Following prohibition, the distillery changed hands many times but was ultimately acquired by Louis Forman, under the direction of his master distiller Charles Everett Beam, who would eventually develop a pot-still sour mash whiskey that would come to be known as “Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey.”
Unfortunately, the distillery would change hands again multiple times due to continued financial struggles. Beginning in 1970, it had officially become the Michter’s Distillery, but the distillery was still unable to find its footing and eventually closed its doors and abandoned its trademarks in 1990. Fast forward 6 years, when Chatham Imports began the process of revitalizing the Michter’s name we all know and love today. The Bomberger’s name was also revitalized back in 2004, but this resulted in a long legal battle between two competing companies looking to resurrect this storied brand. Ultimately, Chatham would prove to be successful in this battle and released the first batch of Bomberger’s Declaration shortly thereafter to “honor the legacy of the former distillery known as Bomberger’s in the 1800’s and later as Michter’s in the 20th Century.”
There is no age statement on this bottle, but rumor has it that this bourbon has been aging for more than 10 years, which is consistent with the quality juice in this bottle. This is also a sourced bourbon, although I have not been able to find much information on the source of the juice or the mashbill. However, based on the tasting I would guess this mashbill is at least 10% rye.
This is bottle #1363 of 1658 from batch # 18C317 in 2018. This bourbon comes in at 108 proof (54% abv). I found this bottle for $59.99 but a quick Google search reveals a much higher price range for this small batch bourbon.
Appearance – deep orange amber. This is a thick, oily bourbon that leaves long, pronounced legs in the glass.
Nose – the nose is the best part of this pour. It is a sweet nose with notes of oak, vanilla bean, brûléed banana, and light rye spice, but there is also a very subtle smokiness that blends seamlessly with all of the rich flavors.
Palate – the sweetness of the nose does not translate immediately onto the palate. Instead, oak tannins initially leave a somewhat astringent feel, along with hot, heavy rye spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and charred oak. The astringency is quickly balanced with the sweetness of a dark fruit chutney and notes of bitter orange peel.
Finish – this bourbon leaves a wonderful mouthfeel, with a medium-long, spicy finish. The oak tannins linger but the rye spice and cinnamon really dominate, bringing to mind the flavor of red hot candies. The heavy spice gives ways to more layers of dark dried fruit, honey, and very light citrus notes.
Overall – In my humble opinion, this is an exceptional bourbon. The nose is rich and inviting, and it only gets better with time. And while there is some astringency on the palate, which I don’t usually prefer, the sweet and spicy notes quickly balance the flavors, culminating in a very enjoyable pour. This bottle also comes in at a very reasonable price point, assuming you can find it at retail. I am a sucker for anything coming from the revived Michter’s Distillery and this bottle is no exception. If you see this on the shelf, I highly recommend picking up every bottle – you will not be disappointed.