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Whisk(e)y Reviews

July 2021

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High West Ryes Up! 

High West is an interesting distillery. They sell blended whiskey and these blends also contain sourced whiskey. This is generally not surprising, but they are very transparent about this whole concept. No, they don't tell you everything, but you do know the mashbill and origin (MGP) of their sourced whiskey, you just don't know the ratio of the blends. For some purists in the whiskey community, this is considered an outrage. I am not a purist. If you sell good whiskey and do not lie (or hide the truth) about the origins of the whiskey, I will be happy to drink it. Sourced whiskey, and contract distilled whiskey, is the backbone of much of the craft whiskey industry. It is the way a distillery can sell whiskey and generate revenue while their own distillate ages until it is ready to bottle on its own. If you tend to read my reviews, you know I have ranted about this before. Now that my rant is over, let's get down to business.

Today we have two rye whiskeys from High West, Double Rye! and Rendezvous Rye. We recently wrote about Rendezvous Rye becoming a limited, seasonal release and its new, ultra cool label. Feel free to review that article before we move on. Both whiskeys are blends of straight ryes, some sourced from MGP and some distilled by High West themselves in their pot stills. Rendezvous Rye is their first whiskey, and as High West states it "is named after 'Rendezvous', the first recorded whiskey fest out west". The Double Rye! naming is much simpler in concept. It is a blend of two rye whiskeys. The exclamation point is part of the name and really points to how excited they are to "showcase the beauty that is rye and create the spiciest rye whiskey in the world."

 

If you are familiar with High West, you already know that they bottle a very good rye. One of my favorite whiskeys is A Midwinter Nights Dram, their limited annual release of Rendezvous Rye finished in French oak port barrels. So it is very exciting to taste more of their rye offerings.

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High West Rendezvous Rye

Class: Blend of Straight Rye Whiskey

Price: $65 -- $70

 

Notes:

 

  • No Age Statement (aged 4 to 7 years)

  • Bottled by High West Distillery, Park City, Utah

  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley from MGP, 80% rye, 20% malted rye from High West Distillery

  • Bottled at 46% ABV (92 proof)

  • Non--chill filtered

  • Batch 21C23

 

Nose: 82/100

 

Honey and rye spice lead immediately. A slight grassiness is far in the background. After some time in the glass, vanilla and anise also appear in the background.

 

Palate: 84/100

 

Rich and oily. Honey and rye spice dominate again. Vanilla sits right behind. Anise does appear but stays in the background. The slight grassiness is again far in the background.

 

Finish: 88/100

 

Honey, rye and vanilla all mingle nicely. Only a medium length finish, but it is delightful. The grassy note stays well in the background again.

 

Overall: 84/100

 

Recommendation: Must try!

 

This is a very good rye whiskey whose biggest fault will be availability. Given that the Rendezvous Rye is not a limited seasonal release, it will be much harder to find, and that is what keeps this from being a direct buy recommendation. One interesting note is that the nose just isn't as bold as the palate or finish. It is far more subtle and really makes you work at discerning the aromas within. The finish is the real winner here, just a wonderful ending to a nice dram.

 

High West Double Rye!

Class: Blend of Straight Rye Whiskey

Price: $35 -- $40

 

Notes:

 

  • No Age Statement (aged 4 to 9 years)

  • Bottled by High West Distillery, Park City, Utah

  • Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley from MGP, 80% rye, 20% malted rye from High West Distillery

  • Bottled at 46% ABV (92 proof)

  • Non--chill filtered

  • Batch 20109

 

Nose: 78/100

 

Honey and rye come to the fore, but not overpowering. A fair bit of ethanol is present, as well. After some time in the glass, vanilla and a touch of grassiness appear in the background.

 

Palate: 80/100

 

Rich and oily. Honey leads but the rye spice is strong. A bit of anise sits in the background.

 

Finish: 76/100

 

Rye spice dominates. Only a small bit of honey and vanilla can be found beneath. Medium length finish and not overly complex.

 

Overall: 79/100

 

Recommendation: Must try!

 

Yes, you need to try this because we are talking about good rye whiskey that is fairly inexpensive. There are very few ryes under $40 that are complex, most are just tasty, nice sippers, and while this is not amazing, it is a great value and something that is frequently on my shelf. The dram lacks balance, but there is potential here that might change with different batches, as well. This is definitely something to pick up every once in a while if you like rye.

 

What did we learn?

 

First, we know that High West sources and distills very good rye whiskey. Second, we can see that there is a "house style" for High West rye. The mashbill is the same for both whiskeys, and the overall profile is very similar. However, there is a definite difference between these two offerings. Because we don't know the ratio of the whiskeys in each blend, or the ratio of the ages in the blends, we can only make some assumptions. As High West has mentioned, the Rendezvous Rye has evolved to include more of the High West pot still rye. Given the tasting notes above, we can only assume that the pot still rye comes through as a more refined rye that makes the Rendezvous Rye a real winner. The Double Rye! is no slouch either. Here, we can assume there is less High West distillate, and potentially a younger blend given that the ethanol hasn't been tamed and the complexity does not stand up to the Rendezvous Rye. Overall, both are great values for anyone that likes a good rye whiskey.

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