The Heartwarming Story Behind The Michter's Bourbon Name

Bourbon fans and collectors are probably familiar with Michter's for several of their well-regarded and highly sought-after releases, including the 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon (which is on our list of the 12 best bourbons to drink in 2023), 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and 25 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (which holds a spot on our list of the most expensive bottles of bourbon ever at $23,000). Michter's is also one of the 14 best distilleries to visit along Kentucky's Bourbon Trail, with a central downtown location across from the Louisville Slugger Museum. However, Michter's roots, including the heartwarming story of its name, originated in Pennsylvania.

The original distillery was founded in 1753 in Shaefferstown, Pennsylvania. As the Michter's website notes, local lore has it that George Washington once purchased whiskey from the distillery for his troops at Valley Forge. In the mid-1800s, Abraham Bomberger purchased the distillery, and it became known as Bomberger's (and later still, Abraham Bomberger and Sons). In the 1950s, Lou Forman, who had a liquor distribution business, took over the distillery and changed it to its current name of Michter's, which he came up with by using a portmanteau of his two sons' names, Michael and Peter. That sweet name stuck, though it was almost lost for good.

Saving the Michter's name

The company fell into financial difficulties and ended up having to file for bankruptcy in 1989. The distillery closed its doors for good in early 1990. Even the name Michter's was abandoned. Until 1996, when Joe Magliocco went looking for a whiskey to add to his newly formed distribution business, Chatham Imports, and discovered that the Michter's name — which he was familiar with from having sold it during his college years and had a certain nostalgia for— was available.

Magliocco would join forces with his mentor Richard Newman to purchase the Michter's name and trademark and resurrect the brand and company, which they moved down to Kentucky, where 95% of the world's bourbon is produced. They initially sourced whiskey to bottle, then had whiskey made to their specifications, before finally making their own whiskey. In 2015, they tracked down and purchased one of Michter's old pot stills (which Louis Forman had himself purchased) to add to the distillery. The rest is history, and the Michter's name and legacy live on.