By Father John Rayls
According to the founder, “High West is Utah’s first distillery since 1870 and the world’s only ski-in gastro-distillery.”
High West Distillery began operations in Salt Lake City, but then moved operations to a 100 year old stable in high-up Park City, located 7,000 feet above sea level, within a year. You can see the horseshoe commemorating their stable home on each bottle of whiskey they produce.
The marketing and imagery used match very well with the values exhibited in the company, values that have made High West favorites among American whiskey nerds. One such point is their openness about where they are purchasing their distilled products, since thus far High West’s aged products are all sourced and bottled. While they get their own creations going, they purchase elsewhere, and age and finish locally. Even those bottlers that do not hide what they are doing are usually reticent about their sources, unlike High West.
I have to be honest: I’ve never rated a whiskey this highly before. This absolutely knocked my socks off!
Midwinter Night’s Dram is High West’s standard Rendezvous Rye, itself made with 6 year old straight rye with a 16 year old straight rye (one from Kentucky, one from LDI in Indiana), finished out in port and French oak barrels and bottled at 98.6 proof (coincidence?)
The rye has a beautiful reddish brown appearance. It is a limited release that is at least tangentially connected with a hopefully shortened, milder winter in the Rockies through its local finishing. The nose is a warm vanilla and oak with soft fruit (plum and raisin) in pudding combined with “mulling spices”.
The taste is complex and captivating. It does not come across as hot. Instead, it is an easy sipping nectar with a near brandy effect and soft cinnamon on the tongue. There is a medium long finish that makes you not want to rush the experience. You will get multiple waves of flavor. This whiskey evolves. Just wait for it…
We should get this out loud and clear: this is a very, very good rye. It’s actually, one of the most enjoyable whiskeys I’ve ever tasted, so I suggest that you at least consider sipping it neat. I’m willing to allow for a very small amount of water added to it, but nothing else. It’s just too damn good!
You can grab your Midwinter Nights Dram for as low as $71.00 (cash) here in Texas. This is a lot more cost than I normally choose to pay, but this is a much better whiskey that seems appropriate for any occasion. Just make sure you have time to savor the experience. As Winston Churchill would often remind his people, “Stay calm and carry on” and we should add “and linger with A Midwinter Nights Dram”.