Right on the heels of the Redemption Rye Whiskey review, here’s another rye whiskey from High West Distillers out of Park City Utah. Most of the High West whiskies to date have been sourced, although they are now distilling and maturing their own spirits. Even though these High West releases have been sourced, they have put out a number of very interesting and very,very good whiskies that showcase some serious blending skills. The High West Double Rye for today is a blend of two straight whiskeys: a very young 2-year-old high-rye whiskey and a 16-year-old low-rye whiskey. The result is, well, you’ll just have to keep reading!
High West Distillery
High West Distillery was founded in 2007 by David Perkins, a biochemist with a love of food and bourbon, and is the first legally licensed distillery in Utah since the end of the American Prohibition. As part of the development plan, High West opened a saloon/restaurant at the same time they established the distillery. Set up in an old livery stable dubbed “The National Garage”, and the adjacent historic Ellsworth J Beggs house, the saloon and restaurant help attract visitors and to serve as a revenue stream while the distillery developed. This facility continues to operate as the saloon but High West has opened a new, dedicated distillery in Blue Sky in Wanship, UT.
The initial High West whiskey offerings were sourced from the MGP Distillery of Lawrenceburg, IN and then “modified” by High West through blending and by using local water. High West is now distilling and aging its own whiskey, as well as vodkas and some “specialty drinks.” The distillery makes its spirits in small batches using a 250 gallon a combination still, which can be set up as either a continuous still or to run as a more traditional pot still.
Aged Whiskeys: American Prairie Bourbon, A Midwinter Nights Dram, High West Double Rye, American Prairie Reserve, High West Whiskey Campfire, Valley Tan, Bourye and Son Of Bourye, as well as a 16 Year Old Rocky Mountain Rye. They also produce a pair of unaged “Silver Whiskeys”: High West Silver Whiskey – OMG Pure Rye and the High West Silver Whiskey – Western Oat; along with Vodka 7000′, named for the distillery’s altitude, and the Specialty Spirits Yippee Ki-Yay, a whiskey aged in wine barrels, The Barreled Boulevardier and 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan, which are pre-mixed cocktails.
Review: High West Double Rye, Bottled 2014, Batch 13H01, Bottle No 2765
High West Double Rye is a blend of two straight rye whiskies, a 2-year-old and a 16-year-old. The 2 year is a made with a high rye mash of 95% rye and 5% barley, while the 16 year rye is a low-rye mash of 53% rye (remember that a whiskey must contain a minimum of 51% rye to qualify as a rye whiskey), 37% corn and 10% barley. I could find no information about the ratio between the two component whiskies, but given the nice body of this whiskey, I suspect that there is a good dose of the 16-year-old!
Color: Light amber/gold tints
Nose: Yeah, baby, this is a Rye Whiskey! Big, bold, fragrantly floral and grassy, spicy, bready goodness in a glass! ….Yes, I really like this nose! There is warm, toasted rye bread – duh! – almost like a pumpernickel with its rich coffee-roasted spiciness. I get a touch of fresh-cut oak, and a growing note of ripe red apples, some delicately sweet vanilla and more dried spices – a slight dusting of cayenne pepper, cardamom and sage. Interestingly, I get these subtle impressions of Diet Coke, along with black cherries and a hint of coconut that linger behind the floral and spice notes. Adding a bit of water, for a brief moment, this becomes “greener” with fresh-cut grass and fresh flowers before shifting gears back toward the more herbal spice, dried grass, warm rye bread, pepper, lemon, fresh oak, soft vanilla bean, hints of coconut and the apples. After a few more minutes, it again becomes more focused on the spices and floral notes with the vanilla and fruits providing a subtle counterpoint.
Taste: Spiced vanilla, some fresh lemon juice, naturally, the toasted rye bread. Dried spices with a bit of peppery heat – the cayenne pepper! A brief flash of mint. Again, there is a hint of the ripe apples and sweet vanilla, but these are very much secondary elements to the floral, herbal spices. It has a beautifully rich body. Although adding water makes the nose more floral, grassy and spice, the palate shows a bigger vanilla sweetness and it becomes a bit softer. There is a bigger fruitiness with the apples and now some berries, yet, there are still all those great spicy floral and grassy notes on top. Water definitely brings out a much sweeter profile, an interesting balancing act with the ever-present spices.
Finish: Floral, rye bread and spices, soft vanilla, a rising oakiness, and then more bread dough. A vibrant, medium length finish.
Overall: Okay, this is just plain yummy! Hitting all the right notes for me, from the initial pour through the very last sips, I find this one absolutely delicious, complex, intriguing and downright enjoyable! If you’re a rye fan, the High West Double Rye is a must try!
Region: United States (Utah)
Distillery: High West (sourced: MGP)
Type: Rye whiskey
Maturation: American oak
Availability: Yes, although may be limited
Sample Source: My own bottle