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Cigar Spirits: High West Double Rye! Whiskey

26 Feb 2014

I’m working my through a few more rye whiskeys before putting together a Guide to Rye, along the lines of our A-Z Guide to Bourbon (part 1 & part 2). Rye whiskey is increasingly popular these days and we want to help you sort out the over-hyped from the real gems.

High-West-Double-RyeHigh West distills whiskey and other spirits at its distillery and saloon in Park City, Utah, which bills itself as the world’s only ski-in distillery. However, the contents of Double Rye! (like most of High West’s aged whiskeys) weren’t distilled at the slope-side distillery.

Not that they hide that fact. As the back label explains, this is a combination of two straight rye whiskeys sourced by High West. One is a young two-year rye with a high rye mashbill (95% rye), probably from Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana. The other is an old 16-year rye with a more traditional mashbill (53% rye). (My bottle was from batch “13F11” and it was bottle number 599.)

The “blend of straight rye whiskies” sells for around $35 per bottle. And the handsome bottle is notable for it’s old west style with bubbles in the glass that give the handmade appearance. The rye is a pure gold color. The nose is a very unique combination of pine and iodine, but with bits of maple candy sweetness and mint.

The palate is all about the dueling layers. The young whiskey has a raw quality to it, but there’s just enough of the smoothness and sweetness from the older rye to prevent it from being overly acrid or harsh. It’s a fresh combination of pear, honey, cinnamon, and raw wood. The finish is a bit harsh and short.

This is a tough whiskey to judge because it’s so unique. The rough nature of the 2-year-old rye that (I suspect) makes up the majority of this blend is dominant and, at times, harsh and unpleasant. But there are quite a few redeeming characteristics: sweetness, complexity, and unexpected depth.

Cigar-wise, you’ll want a spicy cigar to pair with the Double Rye! (yes the “!” is part of the appeal, and it’s descriptive of this brash whiskey). While there are more than a few better rye whiskeys, for more or less money, High West Double Rye! still has it’s charms as a bold, unique rye.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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