Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whiskey Review: High West Double Rye

High West is a distillery in Park City, Utah. However, most of its fame so far has actually come from acting as an independent bottler and blender, creating whiskeys from barrels sourced from Kentucky and Indiana.

This particular whiskey is an attempt to make a more reasonably priced rye, put together from 2-year old, 95% rye mashbill whiskey from MGP and a smaller amount of 16-year old, 53% rye mashbill whiskey from the Barton distillery. These are then proofed down to a very respectable 46%.

Thanks for Michael Kravitz for the sample. See his own review here.

High West Double Rye (Batch 13C07)

Nose: a little thin, very rye-focused, vegetal/pine (PineSol), clover/alfalfa, grainy, fresh cedar, mild oak (more with time), pineapple/vanilla/bubblegum, sandalwood, berries. After adding a few drops of water, the edges are rounded off, the pine becomes richer and more sappy, there is more barrel influence, and some coffee beans and wood spices peek out.

Taste: slightly watery caramel up front, then vegetal/pine/mint with a touch of pepper and oak from the middle to back, some pineapple and berries in the middle, underlying grain throughout, more barrel sweetness with time. After adding a few drops of water, it becomes flatter but more integrated,  much sweeter (sugar rather than caramel and rounder, pepper and pine are less assertive, it's more fruit-forward (grapes and berries), there's more earthiness, and vanilla pops out.

Finish: thin and vegetal, prickly pine and pepper, mild oak and caramel

While I have been less than enamored of young MGP ryes, the older whiskey in the mix really does help to balance it. I think it takes a certain amount of digging to find the complexity - if you're primarily interested in something easy drinking or for cocktails, I would lean towards cheaper options like Bulleit or Redemption rye. But at $30, I think this actually offers something different enough to make it compete. Unfortunately it's almost $45 here in Oregon, which is far too much.

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