High West Rendezvous Rye Review
High West Rendezvous Rye is blend of straight rye whiskeys distilled by MGPI and Barton Distillery. High West is widely known as one of the premier whiskey blenders in the US. In addition to blending they distill a variety of their own spirits including rye, oat, wheat, and corn whiskeys. 2015 was a big year for HW including the opening of the new distillery located at the Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, Utah. Big news surrounded this event including the release of a new 16 year old Rocky Mountain Rye, announcement of a Single Malt and the recently released Yipee Ki-Yay (Double Rye! aged in Vermouth and Syrah barrels). Some lucky folks over at r/bourbon were invited to the ribbon cutting event/HWRMR16 release and did a wonderful writeup on the experience.
Where does Rendezvous Rye fit in the HW whiskey lineup? Think of it as the older, more refined brother to the younger, wilder Double Rye! whiskey. Both are a blend of MGPI and Barton rye whiskey but that is where the similarities end. In addition to having an older MGPI component, the Barton component has a significantly higher portion or rye grain in the grist. RR can also be found in a variety of single barrel finishes (ex-Bourbon barrel, Manhattan, Boulevardier, etc.) and bottled at barrel strength. Its worth noting that the finished RR variants are older due to the marrying time in the barrel - some up to 1.9 years older! Last but not least there is a special version of RR called A Midwinter Night's Dram that is finished in port and french oak barrels.
Cost: $46 pre tax in South Carolina. This was a fantastic price considering most stores are selling for between $55 and $60 these days.
Age: Blend of 6 year old MGPI straight rye + 16 year old Barton straight rye. Ratio unconfirmed. Barrel marrying period unspecified.
Mashbills: MGPI 95% rye / 5% barley + Barton 80% rye / 10% corn / 10% barley
Batch No: 14C07
Bottle No: 3181
Pour: 2 oz neat in a Scottish Glencairn
Nose: Starts out with soft caramel and dill followed by menthol, pumpernickel bread and a healthy does of rye spice. There are some well rounded wood and oak notes that compliment the rye spice. Day old oatmeal cookies are the last stop on this ride.
Palate: Wow! An absolute explosion of warm, creamy rye spice that is very well balanced with cinnamon slightly edging out the rest. The rye spice is set against light brown sugar and is followed by the regular suspects from MGPI including dill, mint, and menthol.
Finish: Super long finish that goes on and on with no end in sight. Up front there is some medium cracked white pepper followed by mint and and a healthy does of oak. There is a lot of warmth here and surprisingly so for a 92 proof whiskey.
HWRR is a perfect example of where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. You should know at this point that I am a huge fan of MGPI rye, especially all the funky dill and eucalyptus/menthol notes that tend to be characteristic of the 95/5 Rye mashbill. However, the combination of the older 80/10/10 Barton rye smooths out some of the rough MGPI edges and brings in an amazing, warm rye spice explosion. The flavors of these two ryes are obviously very different but meld so well to create a really seamless experience. All the MGPI funk integrates well with the older, spicier, and oakier Barton juice. The palate bursts with creamy rye spice and the finish goes on for miles.
The first time I tasted the HWRR was at a High West tasting hosted by Barrel House Spirits in Park Circle, SC on the eve of Bacon & Bourbon 2015. Fast forward a year later - how did this slip under my radar?! Its obvious that I will need to get my paws on some of the single barrel finished HWRR expressions. If you enjoy the Double Rye! I highly recommend picking up a bottle of the Rendezvous Rye.
- Mark @ Entry Proof