Review: Shenk’s Homestead Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey (2019)

Review: Shenk’s Homestead Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey (2019)

We’ve covered the core lineup from Michter’s pretty thoroughly and even some of the rarer unicorns like Michter’s 20 Year, but a pair of whiskeys are on annual offer from the distillery that you may have not even heard of. And for good reason. Known as the Legacy Series, Shenk’s Homestead and Bomberger’s Declaration have been some of the smallest Michter’s releases, even harder to find than limited production offerings like the 10 Year Old Bourbon and Rye.

We’ll get to Bomberger’s in another review, but today we’re digging into Shenk’s Homestead. The whiskey is named for the original Michter’s distiller, John Shenk, the Swiss Mennonite farmer who first began distilling in Schaeffertown, Pennsylvania in the 1750s. His distillery, Shenk’s, eventually became Michter’s after Prohibition (and ultimately moved to Kentucky after the brand was resurrected in the 1990s). Shenk’s debuted in 2018 (in its current packaging). The exact provenance, like all of Michter’s whiskeys, remains something of a mystery, although we should be nearing the point when at least some Michter’s production is completely in-house. Like Michter’s US-1 American Whiskey, Shenk’s is reportedly aged in ex-bourbon barrels, hence why this one isn’t technically a bourbon. The final blend also contains a portion of whiskey aged in exotic Chinquapin oak.

Sounds pretty unique. Let’s check it out!

The nose is bright and sweet with fresh citrus: orange slices and grapefruit skin. There’s a touch of barrel char in the mix, as well, and a light vanilla frosting note. Give it time to open up though and things get decidedly creamier and richer with chocolate pudding, coffee grounds, and marmalade. On the palate, there’s still a pulpy, juicy brightness, but an equal helping of barrel notes balances the fruity sweetness. Spice cabinet and sandalwood, sawdust and Golden Grahams add dryness, but the mouthfeel somehow remains lush with cherry juice and caramel candies. More dusty oak on the finish wraps things up a little earlier than I’d like, but a subtle pie spice helps to extend the experience just a bit further.

I compared this one against the 2018 release, which used French oak to age a portion of the whiskey instead of the more exotic Chinquapin. While the 2018 was maybe a touch richer and oilier, the flavors in the 2019 release were significantly brighter, more complex, and more distinct. The 2020 release reportedly sees even more Chinquapin oak in the blend, so we’ll report back if we get the chance to review that one.

91.2 proof. Reviewed: Batch 18C321.

A- / $80 / 

Shenk's Homestead Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey (2019)




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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