Take wild west imagery, high altitude history, quality whiskey and a nose for interesting blends and you have High West Distillery and Saloon in Park West Utah. Wait, what? Utah? Isn’t that where alcohol is pretty much a no-no for a huge chunk of the population? Where it’s shunned along with all other things people consider fun… I kid… They put a craft distillery there? Yes they damn well did. David Perkins took his biochemical expertise, southern bourbon experience and love of skiing to Park City and in 2007 opened up High West Distillery and Saloon in the historic Beggs House and National Garage on Park Ave. Focused on the traditional American spirit of rye, they are also known for their interesting and experimental blends of various ages of Rye and Bourbon. Some of their popular releases include: Campfire, an interesting blend of Rye, Bourbon and Malt whiskies, Bourye a blend of Bourbon and two different aged Ryes, Rendezvous Rye a blend of two older Ryes and Double Rye which is the focus of this review.
Double Rye is a blend of a young, raw, fiery 2 year old Straight Rye Whiskey with a 95% rye 5% barley mash bill and an older, smooth, wise, rich 16 year old Straight Rye Whiskey with a “barely legal” rye mash bill of 53% rye and 37% corn. What you get is a combo of high heat young rye and sweet rich balancing older rye all coming together and figuring it out. The rye presentation in the High West Double Rye is unlike anything I’ve tasted so far in that you really get a full representation of the various spice notes of rye. It’s like a big happy, wet, spicy slap across your face. In fact you’ll feel an urge to run out grab some nice pastrami and slap it together with some hot deli mustard between two fat slices of Double Rye.
Aroma: Rye in your face. Sandalwood, mint, spice pepper, some oaky vanilla and honey sweetness notes but mainly just a big fat rye back fist to your schnoz.
Taste: Big hit of rye spice and heat at first, clove, anise, allspice, mint, white pepper, with a background of vanilla and light honey sweetness. Rye, Rye, Rye. The more you sit with this one, the more rye parts and pieces come together. Bitter chocolate, nutmeg, more pepper. Just all over the place.
Finish: The heat and spice stick around (it’s Double Rye people, duh) with some of that light drying sandalwood showing up in the finish. Your tongue and mouth will be tingling with spicy rye fallout for a while.
The younger rye in this ass kicking blend punches you in the throat in a way that you’ll keep tilting your head back asking for more. The older rye balances and add richer sweeter notes, but the younger rye takes front stage. Sounds odd? Maybe, but it works. Well. The folks at High West have a real unique flavor profile winner here. The rye is a star here in a way I haven’t tasted before. The anise, clove and allspice rye base backed by an older rich sweetness combine for a fantastic sipping experience. I’m sure this would rock in and Old Fashioned, but I could not bring myself to drink it any way but neat. Despite the high proof and rye spice slap, this is an amazing easy drinking whiskey. Not that this is a characteristic you should be concerned with, but it is. As is usual, I’m writing this review after drinking most of the bottle. High West isn’t available in SC so… I’ll be S.O.L. soon. Except, as I’ve said, mail order whiskey rules. 46% ABV Highly Recommended.