By Father John Rayls
High West Distillery is one of my favorite whiskey producers. I suppose I can’t say “distillery” in the truest sense, because they are very open about their sourcing of their whiskey from the Mid-West. Still, they are in process for making their own whiskey, and I appreciate their openness about the sourcing issue. You don’t get the sense that this organization is playing any games or trying to hide anything with smoke and mirrors, but are instead simply creative at blending their concoctions.
Two of my current favorite whiskeys come from High West. Among the larger list of favored whiskeys is The Double Rye. This is a marriage of two straight rye whiskeys. One is a two year old of the familiar MGP 95% rye and 5% malt stock. The other is a much older 16 year 53% rye, 37% corn mashbill whiskey from Barton.
High West Double Rye comes in a beautiful bottle, with their mountains and “H”/”W” inside a large horseshoe icon on the glass giving the bottle a tactile feel. The labeling is also attractive with the color of the whiskey, dark gold and light copper, pulling it all together. The exclamation point in the title Double Rye! helps set the tone for a proper expectation, matching the billing as “the most excitable member of the High West family.”
The whiskey looks to be on the thin side of the whiskey spectrums in the bottle, and yet the legs appear to be long and thin in the glass. The nose is as you would expect: spicy. However, it is a demur aroma of rye, cinnamon, menthol and pine nuts. The aroma is apparent, but it doesn’t come across as any kind of bold statement. There isn’t any nasal burn, but just a soft and steady drumbeat of rye and spices.
The taste is a surprise after that sampling of aromas, and comes across as more of a bold statement. It is a thin whiskey, but with lots of flavor, a full-flavored mouthful of a rye complimented with wildflower honey, eucalyptus and other various spices. It doesn’t coat the mouth in any sense, but the flavor begins immediately at the front before jumping strongly to the back.
At 92 proof, there isn’t any harshness and Double Rye goes down very easily. The rye flavor isn’t subtle and it lives up to its name primarily in the back of the mouth. The finish is medium length and strength.
This is not a wild on the edge rye whiskey. Instead, it is a flavorful, easy drinking whiskey that makes me dream about Manhattans and I don’t drink many mixed drinks. Drinking it neat allows you to experience a very comfortable ride on the Rye Train. However, if you enjoy a whiskey (rye) forward mixed drink this may be your whiskey of choice.
There seem to be plenty of bottles of High West Double Rye available around the country. You can grab a bottle for anywhere from $29.99 to $49.99, locally and online. If you haven’t experimented with a rye whiskey, this is a great place to start.