Rye whiskey can show a range of flavors, and it doesn’t have to dominate. High West Rye whiskey has a lineup that shines in that regard.
Ah, the romance of the American West…
Scenic vistas with roaming bison, snow-capped peaks in the distance, rodeos with cowboys on horseback…that’s what I remember from a camping trip with my family in Yellowstone National Park some ** ahem ** years ago. It truly was beautiful, and still is (at least when the area isn’t on fire or overrun with tourists). This scene popped in my head when I heard we were going to be sampling High West Rye whiskey at last week’s Whisky Wednesday at Gordon’s DTX. And for good reason…High West distillery, located in Park City, Utah, evokes the Old West in all its expressions. Yee-haw!
There was a time that I didn’t like rye whiskey, but slowly, over time I’ve come to appreciate its distinctive flavor. Whether there’s just a hint in the background to it hitting you in the face, rye doesn’t shrink from the limelight. If a distiller uses it in their mashbill, you can bet it’ll be tasted in some fashion. To me, rye has a range of flavors…lightly toasted almonds, caraway seeds, anise, or toasted walnuts. I can see how rye can add depth to whatever it’s in, so it’s interesting then that the rye in High West Rye whiskey isn’t always the dominant note but shares the stage with its fellow mashbill components. The lineup below really shows this notion well.
On to the tasting…
High West Rye Whiskey
At Gordon’s DTX, August 18, 2018
High West Double Rye
46%ABV, 2 & 6 yr
- Nose: caramel, rye, oak, white pepper
- Taste: soft to start, gets sweeter, cinnamon & cloves, rye is gentle
- Finish: fades to cinnamon red hots, the cloves grow
- Comments: rye isn’t overpowering, mice and sweet; a good entry to rye (the name is misleading); good for cocktails
High West Rendezvous Rye
46%ABV, 6 & 16yr
- Nose: sweet, spicy, orange peel, light cinnamon
- Taste: soft the spicy, rye rises & dominates, baking spices rise up & last
- Finish: the baking spices linger, brown sugar
- Comments: more of a bite, very nice to sip & enjoy, has character
High West Yippee Ki-Yay
46%ABV, Rendezvous aged in vermouth & Syrah
- Nose: soft sweet rye, some brown sugar, vanilla fudge
- Taste: soft, spice delayed, cinnamon red hots tempered with brown sugar
- Finish: the tempered baking spices fade slowly
- Comments: layers upon layers, I really like this one
High West Double Rye Barrel Select
51.3%ABV, Finished inanIslay scotch barrel, cask strength, Gordon’s Select bottle
- Nose: rye, cedar, vanilla, almost menthol
- Taste: medium body, chewy, oily, vanilla, soft baking spices, green notes in the background
- Finish: the baking spices linger, then menthol
- Comments: it’s bourbon with a hint of pine
High West Campfire
46%ABV, bourbon, rye, scotch from Islay
- Nose: brown sugar, vanilla, lightly green
- Taste: caramel, ash, light body, sweet & smoky, muted baking spices
- Finish: the ash lingers, sweet brownstones gar last s softly on the tongue
- Comments: the smoke adds another layer of flavor that’s very pleasant
High West Bourye
46%ABV, a combinationof bourbon and rye
- Nose: cinnamon, rye, vanilla
- Taste: thick body, starts sweet, toasted walnuts show up
- Finish: toasted walnuts give a deep tang
- Comments: starts as bourbon, goes through rye, end in a dark flavor; so good!
I can truly say that I like rye whiskey now, and will be open to trying more High West Rye whiskey. I’ll be visiting the West when drinking it, if only in my mind. If you get to go there, just remember…take only pictures and leave only footprints. And sip your whiskey.
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!