A.H. Hirsch Finest Reserve 1974 20 Year Old 1990s
A legendary bottle of bourbon that has had a whole book written about itself: The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste by Charles K Cowdery.
Distilled in Spring 1974, this bourbon is bottled from a single 400 barrel batch commissioned by Adolph Hirsch and distilled under contract at Michters distillery (then known as Pennco), just outside Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. Hirsch was a former Schenley executive who had briefly worked at Michter's during his time there, and it is believed he commissioned the whisky as financial favour to the distillery, and actually had little plans for its use. So, it lay aging in the warehouses for much longer than generally expected for a bourbon at the time.
With the closure of Michter's distillery, the bourbon was sold by Hirsch to Gordon Hue in 1991, who set about bottling it immediately.
Responsibility for the early bottling was entrusted to Julian Van Winkle III at his Old Commonwealth site in Lawrenceburg. However, his partnership with the Sazerac Company and creation of the Pappy Van Winkle brand in 2002, also saw bottling of the Hirsch Reserve moved briefly to Buffalo Trace. This is one of Van Winkle's earlier 1990's bottlings. Van Winkle's ledgers show that he was drip-fed orders for the Hirsch Reserve, and only produced limited case numbers to order when requested by Hue. This has lead to a variety of different bottlings at different ages.
The majority of the whiskey was placed in stainless steel tanks at 16 years old to prevent any further ageing, however a small amount was allowed to remain in cask. This is the only release bottled from the spirit when it was 20 years old, and the oldest too.
Gordon Hue, who had maintained exclusive distribution rights to the Hirsch product despite the Van Winkle and Sazerac connections, eventually sold the brand to Preiss Imports who moved the subsequent and final bottling (technically re-bottling) to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers' Willett facility.
In his book Cowdery refers to the bourbon as one of the "best whiskeys I've ever tasted."
Mash bill contains 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley.