High West Yippee Ki-Yay Review
High West Yippee Ki-Yay is a blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in ex Syrah wine and Vermouth barrels. Yes, you read that correctly. What the what?! Not content with the success from A Midwinter Night's Dram the HW crew decided to push the boundaries even further with their latest creation. HWYKY starts out as the infamous Double Rye! which is a blend of 2 year old 95/5 MGPI rye and 16 year old Barton rye. The ratio of older to younger rye is unspecified as is the ratio of Syrah to Vermouth barrels used in the finishing process.
HWMWND and HWYKY aren't the only finished rye options available from High West. The private barrel program is fairly robust as it provides opportunities for stores to pick either the Rendezvous Rye or the Double Rye! in a variety of finishes. Barrel finishing is not limited to barrels that previously held bourbon or rye but also include different types of oak, aged cocktails, and even ex campfire blend barrels. The additional time spent in the barrels could add as much as 2 years of extra contact time to the whiskey before its bottled. These store picks usually command an extra $15 which is completely reasonable considering the extra time spent in the barrel.
As of now the HWYKY is a gift shop only release available at the High West Saloon and Distillery located in Park City, UT. HW has confirmed through twitter that this will see limited national release beginning in May of 2016 however could not confirm which markets will be included. It would appear that HW is following the same staggered schedule that was used for the A Midwinter Nights Dram release.
- Gift shop release
- Limited national release
- Wider national release
This type of staggered schedule is not limited to HW and was also used by Makers Mark to release their Cask Strength offering last year.
High West Yippee Ki-Yay
Cost: Sample provided by High West. Gift shop price is $64.95.
Age: Blend of 2 year old MGPI straight rye + 16 year old Barton straight rye. Ratio unconfirmed. Marrying period unspecified.
Mashbills: MGPI 95% rye / 5% barley + Barton 53% rye / 37% corn / 10% barley
Barrel Finish: Oak barrels that previously held Vya Vermouth (Quady Winery, Madera, CA) and Oak barrels that previously held Qupé Syrah (Qupé, Santa Maria, CA). Ratio unconfirmed. Barrel marrying period unspecified.
Batch No: 1
Pour: 2 oz neat in a Scottish Glencairn
Color: Ruby with an orange hue. I don't normally comment on color but this is really nice to ogle while sipping.
Nose: Starts with vanilla yogurt followed by lots of red berries including cranberries, cherries, and pomegranates. Cherry cola with orange zest and lemon tyme. Cinnamon , light menthol, black pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
Palate: Medium viscosity. Baking spices with pronounced cinnamon, mint. The red berries really dominate here with more of the cranberry and some black cherry flavors.
Finish: Medium short length with a full body warmth. Menthol, white pepper and a slightly bitter, herbal note. Classic dry rye finish however drops off quicker than expected.
High West Yippee Ki-Yay is very unique and a great example of what can be accomplished with wine barrel finishing. I wasn't entirely sold on the vermouth component and was worried that the herbal flavors would overpower the whiskey. But, the Vermouth added a citrus and herbal component that worked well to bridge the gap between the syrah and rye without overpowering. Doing some digging revealed that Quady Winery uses orange muscat grapes in their vermouth which lend to orange flavors and aromas. Bingo.
I was kinda bummed that the MGPI "dill" note didn't make an appearance in this rye. Maybe its for the best. Too many herbal notes could have ended up pushing this whiskey in the wrong direction. The finish on the YKY is considerably shorter in length when compared with HWMWND but is in line with the Double Rye! which makes sense. Otherwise this is a great addition to the High West lineup and worth seeking out if you have the opportunity. Cheers.
- Mark @ Entry Proof