“Perhaps the spiciest American whiskey I have ever tasted, yet at the same time, quite tame and mellow.” – John Hansell
For the past 100-200 years blended whiskey has been dominated primarily by Scotch and Irish blenders, while the United States beverage industry has been mainly relegated to single distilleries without much sharing of each other's spirits. Where most distilleries in Scotland share and sell their spirits to various other independent bottlers and blenders, you will be hard pressed to find a bourbon distillery which is selling its spirit in any other form than their particular distillery label (besides the big guys like LDI). This trend in the US has, though not as diverse and multifaceted as it’s brothers across the pound, recently have seen some needed change. In the past decade or so, many new whiskies sourced elsewhere have found their place in the market. Labels such as Bulleit, WhistlePig, Templeton, among others have been popping up here and there. And, along with these “bottlers,” have arisen a few blenders in the real sense of the tradition. High West Distillery is one such blender that has been garnering applause for their blended whiskey ( i.e. sourced products) which are then painstakingly blended to achieve a new and unique flavor profile. While there has been some negative media due to the lack of High West distilling many of their own products (they do distil some of their spirits), High West has been more than open with their blending practices, and the fact that they have such stellar products makes a very hard case against their provocateurs. One might raise the question that LDI is finding it's way into most of the bottles I listed, but I would just say that this trend is something which I believe will soon be changing for the better, with more distilleries opening up their store.
If you haven’t heard about High West Distillery they are located in Park City Utah and, not surprisingly, the first legal distillery in Utah since prohibition (if I could gain a penny every time I use that designation!). Attached to the distillery is a beautiful saloon and restaurant making an out of the way trip a bit more appealing. Rendezvous Rye was the flagship brand and the first offering, much less their first huge successful whiskey. At 92 proof, non-chill filtered blend of a 16-year-old 80% rye whiskey with a 6-year-old 95% rye whiskey this whiskey won the 2008 winner of a Double Gold Medal at San Francisco Spirits competition. Now, the Double Rye, in the similar vein is a blend of a very young 2 year old high rye whiskey of 95% rye, and a 16 year old high rye whiskey of 53% (37% corn, 10% Barley Malt). And what we get with the Double Rye! Is possibly the most unique American whiskey I have ever had. Yes, you read that correctly. The most unique.
High West Double Rye! Whiskey Review:
Price: Around $35.00 for a 750ml bottle.
Packaging/Labeling: Western-y to say the least. High West have unique bottles to all their products, and I wouldn’t ever tell them to change it. Let’s just say it adds some diversity to your collection.
Alcoholic Content: 46% abv, 92 proof. Happy with that!
Nose: Immediately hit by an incredibly distinct gin body. Transported into a spring forest with fresh honeydew and green cedar all around. If it wasn’t for the slight oak coming through one could have fooled me into thinking this was some other kind of spirit. A beautiful nose.
Palate: Dark, burnt sugars explode with a rye sweetness. Opens large on the tongue with the gin botanicals and fresh pine leaves, providing a wonderful bitterness yet nothing overly tannic. Extensive and long finish.
Finish: This redefines what a rye can be. Honestly I have never tasted a whiskey this unusual – truly “unique” as some reviewers have put it. And the secret is in the great divide of age. You get the youth and vigor of the very young two year old, but the rare maturity of a 16 year old rye. This is the beauty of a blended whiskey. You could not get these flavors without the melding of the two together. I cannot say this is for everyone, but if you want something completely different from your normal routine try this outstanding whiskey.