High West Double Rye! (Campfire Barrel Finish) Review
High West Double Rye! is a blend of young MGP rye and older Barton Rye. Similar to Smooth Ambler, High West is very transparent with their products. Not only are they up front with their sources but also upfront in the fact that they are blending whiskey from different sources! Chew on that for a minute in the current age of NDPs with deceptive advertising, claims of family recipes, and lawsuits.
The High West Distillery is located in Park City, Utah and was the first to open in the state since the 1870s. In addition to the Double Rye, they also produce a number of other NDP products including Rendezvous Rye, Bourye, Campfire and the highly sought after A Midwinter Nights Dram. HW really sets themselves apart from every other distiller and NDP with their love for all things rye. Did I mention that they also produce their own 100% Rye whiskey with a mashbill of 80% unmalted rye and 20% malted rye. Wow.
The Cask Force crew over at r/bourbon actually went to the High West Distillery and Saloon to hand select this barrel to which I am eternally grateful. What makes this bottle of rye whiskey so different than the bottle anyone can go grab off a shelf at their local ABC shop? This blend was finished for 19 months in an American Oak (American Stave Co.) barrel that previously held the HW Campfire. Not only is this Double Rye! older than the standard offering but it had an opportunity to pick up characteristics from the previously held spirt.
Mashbill: Combination of 95/5 MGP Rye and 53/37/10 Barton Rye.
Age: 2 year old 95/5 MGP Rye + 16 year old 53/37/10 Barton Rye + 19 months in used Campfire barrel = ?
Barrel No: 616-2
Bottle No: 231
Bottle Date: 9/17/14
Pour: 2 oz neat in Scottish Glencairn
Nose: Sweet vanilla leads to fresh cut grass, green apple jolly ranchers and menthol. Followed by hint of MGP dill, dark pumpernickel, caraway seed.
Palate: Warm caramel, cinnamon and rye spices, powdered ginger, and slight malt note. Much softer and less young/wild than the standard double rye.
Finish: Medium in length with some tannic oak and rye spice. The finish is really nice as it fades from the rye spice to a warm, minty aftertaste.
This is definitely a step up from the standard Double Rye! offering in being much smoother and less wild. There is also some similarity here with the more refined Rendezvous Rye which has an older MGP rye component. I was expecting some phenolics from the barrel or at least a hint of peat but there were none. But thats OK, if I want peat and rye I'll reach for a bottle of Campfire. High West did not provide the amount of time that the Campfire blend spent in the new, charred American Oak barrel. It's possible the time was short and did not allow for much absorption into the wood. If that is the case then then there was likely more barrel character imparted which might account for the big, sweet vanilla aroma that I pick up on the nose. Whatever the reason, this is a very enjoyable sipping rye.
Unfortunately, this barrel has come and gone however it illustrates what High West can do with finishing in addition to their blending skills. The High West private barrel program includes a variety of finishes for the Double Rye! including Bourbon, Scotch and Manhattan. With a bit of searching it shouldn't be too hard to find a local or online shop with a finished Double Rye! that was hand picked by a knowledgable staff.
Mark @ Entry Proof