- On December 3, 2015
Looking back on our previous blog posts, it has come to our attention that we somehow haven’t discussed the incredibly refreshing work that High West is doing in the world of whisk(e)y! High West is located in scenic and rather implausible-as-a-distillery-location Park City, Utah and the spirits that they have been producing there are some of the best on the micro scene, let alone globally. What’s more, the transparency they have shown thus far is a perfect representation of what a distillery startup should do. Quite simply put, we’re smitten! This week, we’ll look at some of the great spirits they have, as well as a Zipps exclusive!
Rendezvous Rye could be considered the flagship brand for High West and damn if it isn’t a great one! High West has only been open for a handful of years, so while the white goods under their brand are distilled in house, all the brown goods we see are sourced and blended. While some might view this as either lazy or cheating, we consider it both smart and delicious. Many other microdistilleries do this and cover their tracks with subterfuge and marketing, or outright lying. High West, however, is extremely candid about this. They have barreled their new make for years, but it takes years for it to be ready (look to see some of their own stuff working their way in to the blend in the near future). They disclose as much information about their sourced whiskeys as they are legally allowed to do, which in the trade secret happy spirits world is frankly fantastic. The Rendezvous Rye is a blend of a straight 6 year old 95% rye/5% malted barley whiskey distilled by MGP and a straight 16 year old 80% rye/10% corn/10%malted barley distilled by Barton all bottled at 92 proof. The fact that I can tell you that with no doubt or confusion is a beautiful thing. The resultant dram is something that could be best described as saddle-worn. The 6 year old gives it a bold and robust flavor that is spicy and lively, lending big cinnamon and mint notes while it is tempered by the 16 year old’s smooth, leathery body and richer caramel and honey flavors. It is an incredibly well-balanced sipper that drinks well any time of the year. ($37.99, reg. $47.99)
Perhaps our favorite of the year-round lineup, Campfire is truly a unique snowflake. A blend of a straight bourbon (75% corn/21% rye/4% malted barley distilled at MGP), a straight rye (95% rye/5% malted barley) and a peated, blended malt Scotch (cannot disclose source, but it’s not from Islay!) all aged 5 years or more, there is absolutely nothing else like it in the world. Campfire is a true taste experience. It engages every part of your palate. Sweet, spicy, slightly bitter and savory, it touches a part of the lizard brain that just says “MORE!” You get the caramel and honey notes from the bourbon, the zingy spice and fruit notes from the rye, and then they Scotch has the salty, smoky umami quality that just ties it all together in a neat little bow. We can find no fault with this whiskey, and considering what a crazy experiment it represents, that is pretty damn astonishing. ($46.99, reg. $56.99)
We promised you an exclusive from Zipps’, and here it is! We bought a whole barrel of High West and they even put our names on it! High West took their Double Rye! (2 year old & 16 year old rye combo) and barreled it, after blending, for an additional 23 months in used Rye barrels. The extra aging really mellows out the aggressive spearmint flavors in the rye. There is a candied orange peel quality to it that is extremely welcome and marries well with the bold spice from the whiskey. We also see an extra weight to the body that gives it an awesome mouthfeel. It absolutely coats your palate. Bottled at 100 proof, it has a little extra oomph than the usual Double Rye! but the extra time it slumbered in the barrel still makes it mellower than its younger brother. This is a unique whiskey in that, once it’s gone, it’s gone for good! So, make sure to grab a bottle or 4 while you can! ($44.99, reg. $54.99)
The final highlight of this week is, if we’re being perfectly honest, a bit of a tease. High West’s Midwinter Night’s Dram is an extremely limited release whiskey, and the accolades and praise for it online have been growing exponentially every year. This year’s release is smaller than last, but we happened to get just a little bit more. Midwinter is a build on their Rendezvous Rye in the way that our single barrel is a build on Double Rye!, with extra aging in Port and French Oak barrels. Decadent is the only word to describe this spirit. It feels like it needs to be sipped out of a snifter in front of a roaring fire on a hoary night. Some have called this whiskey “Santa Juice” as it tastes like all the components of a traditional holiday feast rolled into one. There is the mulling spice, the raisin and apricot, vanilla and caramel and everything you could possibly want. Truly fantastic, and guaranteed not to last long on the shelf. ($74.99)