The boys at High West have balls. Firstly they chose to base themselves out of Park City…. Utah. Yes Utah – a state hardly renowned for its alcohol tolerance – in fact on a list of places NOT to start a business dealing in “Hard Liquor”, Utah probably ranks in second place, just behind Saudi Arabia. Kudos to these brave pioneers of the west!
Team High West also deserve kudos for sticking with their game plan – one that has raised a few eyebrows over the years but shouldnt have. Since their foundation, High West has been successfully bottling and marketing fine American whiskey blended from cask stocks selected by them, but distilled by others. Not that this practise is really that unusual – most if not all of the world’s greatest blended scotch brands would not exist if it were not for their wide range of component whiskies – often originating at distilleries who’s rival parent companies spend most of their time in a bloody battle of case volumes and market share that would impress even the most battle hardened veteran. Again kudos to Team HW.
Far too many “craft” distillers have diluted their offering by distilling vodkas and gins or rushed their whiskey to market in micro-casks in an effort to shorten maturation times but which are in reality too small to give complexity. Whilst the quest for cash flow is understandable – (if you know of a banker patient enough to wait for 5 years before asking for a first loan re-payment please do let me know – seriously) – the resulting product almost always has me running for the spit bucket.
So again, kudos to High West for bringing us well blended, delicious American whiskies that taste even better knowing that every bottle you buy is helping them with the ultimate dream of a fully functioning, Utah based distillery producing top class spirit which is allowed to mature for the time it needs – unhurried by the pen pushers in pinstripe. If you care about good whisky you should, like me, be toasting to their future success with a bottle of High West Rendezvous.
High West Rendezvous Batch No. 27, Bottle No. 915 46% abv
A blend of 6yr old young rye whiskey (95% rye) and 16yr old aged rye whiskey (80% rye) which combine artfully to produce a powerful rye punch – but in a velvet glove. The rye content here is VERY high by anyone’s standards and one would think that this would lead to a one dimensional, bully of a whiskey. Fear not! This rendezvous is more “at the bar with a smiling John Wayne” than “face to face with guns drawn Clint Eastwood”…
The nose: in your face spicy – a cinammon heat, hot leather saddles, dry floral notes like cut wild flowers that have baked in the sun. Finishing cooler with wintergreen herbal notes.
To taste: Wow! Rye at its powerful best! Fennel and honey notes combine to create a curious sensation reminicent of my grandfather Leonard’s cologne and the strangely moutwatering fresh but rich scent of a newly glistening bar of Pears transparent soap. Creme brulee sweetness follows, but balanced by a woody dryness that serves to make the mouth water even more.
To finish: Warming, honey-spiced bitter orange. Marmalade on toast with an old west mule kick!
Im scoring High West Rendezvous 95pts. A rye by which all others should be measured.
Music to drink this to: U2 – Bullet the Blue Sky