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High West Bourye 2017 Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46%. Age: 10+ years. Blend: it’s complicated. Price: $80.

A few years back, Baldo and I sat down for lunch in my town of Evanston, IL. The restaurant, a very good and basic Italian, had High West’s Bourye as an option. “Grab it,” Baldo said, “you’ll love it.”

Well, it’s two years later and I can’t say he was much off the mark. The 2017 version of the Bourye is a blend of straight bourbon and ryes ranging from 10 to 14 years old, all from MGP. There’s a high-rye rye, a low-rye rye, and a high-rye bourbon in the mix. (Got all that?) And like previous releases, it’s got a welcoming profile that’s good for the novice and experienced consumer alike.

You definitely get that rye on the nose, but there’s also vanilla, raisin, and a hint of blackberry. The palate is really nice, with an initial nutty overlay that’s quickly conquered by the swelling fruits of blackberry, raspberries, and a touch of currant.

I wasn’t mad for the finish, which was too abbreviated for me, but I quite like this one overall.

My main quibble is the price point. I like the whiskey enough where it could be a staple of the collection on taste alone, but it’s just not an $80 whiskey to me.

Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy High West whiskey online at Mash + Grape

High West graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

High West Midwinter Night’s Dram Review

Producer: High West. Distillers: MGP and Barton. ABV: 49.3%. Age: see below. Price: $100.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: High West is sourced whiskey done right. (Yes, they’re distilling too, quietly and in no rush, though when they’re ready to release something of their own, I have a feeling it’ll be worthy of the name they’ve already made as a bottler.) Their selection of stocks, often from the ubiquitous MGP, is excellent, and their instincts for blending and barrel finishes are all but unerring.

Witness the latest Midwinter Night’s Dram. It’s High West’s justly praised Rendezvous Rye–a blend of 6-year-old MGP rye and 16-year-old Barton rye–finished in port and French oak barrels, bottled at a potent 49.3% ABV. They apply the Shakespearean conceit to the release numbers on the Mindwinter’s: this is Act III, Scene I.

The core of it is every bit as good as the recipe suggests: the finish adds a round, raisiny warmth to the bold rye notes of the Rendezvous. But there’s more to it than that. Think late-season grapes in the afternoon, heavy with months’ worth of sunlight–and the green vine, and the dusty leaves, and even a bit of the wood from the arbor. Evolves and unfolds in the glass for as long as you’ll give it. Cabernet-soaked oak and slightly bitter blackberries on the finish.

The best finished rye I’ve ever had. Willett’s XCF was an intriguing entry in this genre, but I’d pick the Midwinter’s over it, hands down.

Bring on the blizzard–any month of the year. Cheers, friends! – BO

High West kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy High West Whiskey online from Mash + Grape

High West 14-Year-Old Light Whiskey Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46% ABV. Age: 14 years. Price: $100.

The whiskey world’s first diet product? Not quite. “Light whiskey” is a long-standing U.S. spirits category that’s essentially the halfway mark between straight whiskey and neutral grain spirits. It’s distilled at 80-95% ABV, comes off the still with far fewer flavor compounds than straight whiskey, and can be aged in used or uncharred new oak barrels. Light-bodied, light flavored, and far more often a component in blends these days than a freestanding product–especially at a time when whiskey enthusiasts want juice so dense you can stand a spoon in it.

High West often sources from MGP, as they did in this case, acquiring 10 barrels of MGP light whiskey (99% corn, 1% malted barley) that was aged 14 years in second-fill (bourbon?) barrels.

My only previous experience w light whiskey was from Mosswood Distillery, an interesting outfit in Oakland, CA, that ages 4-year-old MGP light whiskey in a variety of barrels, from apple brandy to espresso.

Those are delicate spirits with delicate finishes. The High West 14-year-old packs more of a punch. It starts with a hot nose with big corn and coconut notes. Then comes the sweet baked goods, hot buttered brioche, fresh challah–interestingly reminiscent of the Barrell Bourbon Whiskey Batch 1, another MGP-sourced product.

Palate’s sweet, with more body than you might expect. Not bourbon density, but a light syrup feel. Vanilla and coconut. Maple. Candied banana. By the time we hit the finish–a touch too sweet more my taste–I’m craving the balance some oak tannins or a flavor grain would bring.

I think there’s potential for the light whiskey category that we’re only glimpsing so far. This particular release isn’t for me, especially at $100 a bottle. Still, High West is doing things right as usual: experimenting, pushing boundaries, and offering full transparency along the way. This release is distillery-only for the time being. If it catches on, though, I’m sure we’ll being seeing more of it around.

Hope your Saturday’s a tasty one! Cheers, friends! -BO

High West graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy High West Whiskey online at Mash + Grape

Turkey Bourbon Picks! (Plus one finished rye)

Time for some Turkey Bourbon picks! (Plus one finished rye.) Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or something in between, you can’t go wrong with this bunch.

Start with the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit: a bright and dazzling single barrel spice bomb. Serve Baker’s, the rich and nutty side of Jim Beam’s small batch collection, while you’re carving the bird. When you’re stuffed to the gills and need some real firepower to rally for round 3, the hugely potent cask strength Wild Turkey Rare Breed will get you there.

Then your dessert dram to match the pecan and pumpkin pies? High West’s new port- and French oak-finished Midwinter Night’s Dram, with sweet raisiny notes rounding off the rye so nicely you can taste the crackling fire.

Those are our picks. How about yours?

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! -BO

High West Double Rye Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: LDI. ABV: 46%. Price: $30.

Been wanting to try the High West Double Rye for a long time and was overjoyed when Mrs. McDram’s father brought it home. We did a Manhattan with it then I sipped it as a nightcap and both were exceptional.

This blend of a 2-year-old high rye (95% rye) and an older, lower rye (53% – 35% corn) has a truly lovely nose with hint of cherry, rye spice, and pine. Great palate with the caramel, toffee and tobacco all playing well together. Warming, smooth finish.

My favorite of all recent tastes. – TM

High West American Prairie Reserve Bourbon Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: LDI/Four Roses. 46% ABV.

High West’s American Prairie Reserve Bourbon is a mix of 6-year-old LDI juice and 10-year-old Four Roses. Surprisingly sweet entry with cinnamon and oak, then a drier finish. Curious oatmeal note after some time in the glass.

Solid but unspectacular, especially next to knockouts from High West like the Bourye family. High West donates 10% of post-tax profits to the American Prairie Reserve. Cheers! -BO