Posts from the ‘High West’ Category

Phil’s Favorite American Craft Whiskeys

There is no section of my local liquor store expanding quite so rapidly as American craft whiskey.  New distilleries seem to be emerging every day, as do new whiskeys.  I have to admit that I have not been impressed with all of it, but I have really enjoyed some of the craft whiskeys released in the United States over the last few years.

For the purposes of this series, some of these whiskeys could be included in different categories (i.e. Dad’s Hat is also a rye whiskey in addition to being a craft whiskey), but I stated at the beginning that each whiskey could only receive one nomination, so that is why each of these whiskeys appears here as opposed to on another list.  So, here are the nominees for American Craft Whiskey:

Name: Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt

Distillery: Balcones

Batch: SM 12-9

Age: No Age Statement

Proof: 106 (53% abv)

Price: $70-80/750ml

Notes: This was one of the first batches of Texas Single Malt released, and it did not disappoint.  This whiskey elicited rich banana bread notes, a nutty sweetness, and a rich berry creaminess.  This whiskey really worked to forge a new style all its own, and it worked beautifully.  The only caveat to this nomination is that I have tried a few successive batches of this whiskey that I have not liked nearly as much as I liked this first batch.  That said, this particular batch was brilliant whiskey.  “1” Texas Single Malt is available on a limited basis the further one gets from Texas.

Name: Corsair Triple Smoke

Distillery: Corsair Artisan Distillery

Batch: 84

Age: No Age Statement

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $45-50/750ml

Notes: This whiskey is a blend of three different malted barley samples, one smoked over cherry wood, one smoked over peat, and one smoked over beechwood.  The resulting whiskey is a unique take on smoked malt whiskey, yielding flavors of fiery peat, sweet barley, and freshly cut oak.  This is definitely a young whiskey that is a little rough around the edges, but the flavors are unique and they are bursting out of the bottle.  This is a hard whiskey to find, but if you do, it’s worth a try.  They are not too many like this one floating around.

Name: Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye

Distillery: Mountain Laurel Spirits

Batch: N/A

Age: 6 months

Proof: 90 (45% abv)

Price: $35-40/750ml

Notes: This rye is made in the authentic Pennsylvania style, meaning that corn is not included in the mashbill as found in Kentucky ryes.  Dad’s Hat is then aged in new oak quarter casks for a minimum of 6 months.  You would probably think that after only 6 months, this whiskey would be hot and brash, but it is nothing of the sort.  Even at its young age, this is a quality whiskey, with cocoa dust, rich black cherries, fresh oak shavings, and white chocolate.  This is one of those whiskeys that is really good and gets you really excited about tasting such a well-made spirit at an older age (Dad’s Hat will be rolling out a 3 year-old rye this spring).  This whiskey was awarded “Craft Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate magazine for good reason.  It is widely available in the mid-Atlantic, but gets harder to find the further one is from Pennsylvania.

Name: High West Campfire

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products/Unnamed Scottish Distilleries – Blended and Bottled at High West

Batch: N/A

Age: 5 Years

Proof: 92 (46% abv)

Price: $40-45/750ml

Notes: I had trouble decided whether or not High West belonged in the American Craft Whiskey category or not, but as they were undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the American craft movement, I have included their whiskeys here.  This particular whiskey is a blend of a rye whiskey, a bourbon, and a peated blended malt Scotch from an undisclosed source.  The result is something both unique and special.  Sweet flavors such as caramel, honey, and vanilla are present, as are herbal flavors like pine and juniper.  All these flavors are accented wonderfully by a twinge of rolling smoke.  This whiskey is widely available; you can find it in almost any liquor store where High West products are sold.

Name: High West Double Rye!

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products/Barton 1792 – Blended and Bottled at High West

Batch: N/A

Age: 2 Years

Proof: 92 (46% abv)

Price: $40-45/750ml

Notes: Double Rye! is made at the High West Distillery in Utah by marrying two different whiskeys – a 95% rye mashbill, 2 year-old whiskey from MGP in Indiana, and a 16 year-old, 53% rye mashbill from the Barton Distillery in Kentucky.  The resulting whiskey is a tour-de-force of rye flavors.  All the spice cabinet range of a great rye is present here, but it is all buttressed by rich honey and vanilla notes to round out a great profile.  The great part about this rye is that it is available almost everywhere in the United States, and it won’t break the bank.

High West Rendezvous Rye Review

This is the final review in my mini-series on rye whiskeys, High West Rendezvous Rye.  High West is a distillery out of Utah, that is currently distilling their own whiskey, but most of their products currently on the shelves are sourced from other distilleries.  This particular whiskey is a batched whiskey comprised of a 16 year-old 80% rye whiskey from the Barton Distillery in Kentucky and a 6 year-old 95% rye whiskey from MGP (formerly LDI) in Indiana.  It is then bottled in the recognizable High West bottle at 92 proof (45% abv).  I have heard that this one varies from batch to batch, but I have had three different batches now, and they have all been very good.  My tasting notes are a bit brief as I compiled my tastings of all three batches for the review.

On the nose, Rendezvous Rye has a lot of cinnamon and tart green apples, backed up nicely by the familiar rye notes of mint leaves and pine needles.  I also detect a bit of berry sweetness from the nose, too.  The palate is very well balanced, between rye notes and a healthy dose of barrel sweetness.  There are notes of cinnamon, oak, gin botanicals, pine needles, and vanilla.  The finish leaves warming potpourri, orange peels, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon sugar.

Overall, this is a very good rye whiskey, probably the best of the three I’ve reviewed in my rye mini-series.  It is a good balance between an old, elegant rye, and a young, brash rye.  My only complaint is that it achieves neither end fully, and leaves the whole whiskey experience a little short of excellence.  I suspect that this will make my forthcoming list of the Top Ten Whiskeys I want at Barrel Strength.  That said, this is still a wonderful rye whiskey that makes for a great introduction to craft rye whiskeys if you’ve been looking to let it ride with rye.  My grade: B+.  Price: $50-60/750ml.  This is a very good rye at a reasonable price given the age, and one that gives an indication of the quality products coming out of High West Distillery & Saloon.

High West Campfire Whiskey Review (ft. William from “A Dram Good Time”)

Today, I am doing my first tandem review with my good friend, William, from http://dramgoodtime.com/.  We both have tried this whiskey on several occasions, and hopefully seeing how we go about reviewing the whiskey will demonstrate how whiskey tastings can differ from person to person.  As a disclaimer, William and I reviewed the same bottle separately, and we did not compare tasting notes prior to our posts.

The whiskey we have chosen for our first (of many, hopefully) tandem review is High West’s Campfire Whiskey.  High West is a distillery and saloon from Park City, Utah.  It is a relatively young distillery that has not started bottling its own whiskey yet.  For now, High West is sourcing whiskey from a variety of distilleries and blending them to make some fantastic products.  Most of the High West products are at least $40/750ml, so they are rarely bargain buys.  However, they do make some great whiskeys for under $50 if you are interested in drinking some fine whiskey this holiday season.

High West’s Campfire Whiskey is a blend of a straight bourbon, a straight rye, and a blended, peated Scotch.  All of the components are at least 5 years old.  The two American components are LDI whiskeys from the old Seagram’s plant in Indiana.  The source of the peated Scotch is kept secret by High West.  They are all blended together in unknown quantities, and bottled at 92 proof.  Needless to say, this is a unique whiskey.

On the nose, Campfire whiskey is unlike any whiskey I have sniffed before.  There are notes of caramel, some vanilla, evergreen trees, and a nice puff of smoke now and again.  With a few drops of water, the rye characteristics of evergreens, gin botanicals, and black licorice assert themselves a bit more.  The palate begins sweet, with caramel, vanilla, and honey.  It moves through some pine, holly, and juniper before it reaches the smokiness at the back of the palate.  The finish is where the peat shows up most.  The finish is medium-long, but very well balanced between sweet vanilla and wet peat.

Overall, this whiskey is unique and very enjoyable.  It can be a little confusing on your senses, but that gives it a lot of versatility.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is a great whiskey, and the price is reasonable.  It is definitely worth a try if you are looking for something a little different.

Here are William’s thoughts (if you would like to read his blog, check it out here).

Color:  Dark Amber/Copper

Nose:  Smoldering pine needles and pine cones, soft peat, cinnamon, toffee, and with a little time it opens up with notes of heather honey.

Palate:  The palate gets interesting with sharp black pepper, followed up with some dry oak, toffee, a bit of that smoke, vanilla, honey, and a light peat that goes right into the finish.

w/ Water:  A little calmer with a bit more honey and sweetness showing, but the spices, light peat, and vanilla aren’t going anywhere.

Finish:  Moderate to long, sweet and dry finish with pepper and hints of smoke and peat.

This is quite a unique dram with each whisk(e)y in this blend clearly present and pretty well balanced with the rest. The rye stands out slightly more but it works very well. I would personally enjoy just a bit more of a smoke and peat influence, but it’s not needed. Not a full campfire yet, but it’s definitely being lit; good stuff.

Rating:  87

That concludes our review of High West Campfire whiskey.  As you can see, we both reviewed this whiskey similarly.  That will not always be the case, but for Campfire Whiskey, it is indicative of a very good pour of blended whiskey.  Let it ride!