By Father John Rayls
Anything High West produces already has me interested.
Utah’s High West is known for sourcing its whiskey, and then performing its magic in the blending area. This is while they have been working on producing their own whiskey, and the High West Silvers are some of the earliest produced. I am not deeply experienced with white whiskey, but love innovation and am willing to support it with my hard earned cash.
High West produces two “Silver” white whiskeys. One is the OMG Pure Rye Whiskey and the second is the Silver Western Oat, the latter with a mashbill of 85% oats and 15% malt, made at the more than a mile-high altitude of 7000 feet. A number like that gives you pause to think about a Highland Scotch process, and how elevation might influence the whiskey distillation.
The bottle is traditional in style, like all High West bottles. It’s tall and slender with the inlaid High West icon, plus a well-designed and appropriately colored label. However, that’s where the similarity ends. This is called Silver for a reason. The whiskey is absolutely clear and the bottle glistens in the light giving it a shining silver appearance. It is actually an eye attracting appearance and sitting on the shelf, almost daring you to try it, and I can resist almost anything… except a dare.
I really didn’t know what to expect on the nose having sampled some pretty raw (harsh?) moonshine in the past. Much of the white whiskey I have had so far strikes me as rotgut, but not this one. You will see some legs, but they are short and inconsistent apparently due to the thinness of the whiskey. The distillery touts the aroma as “rich vanilla with banana, coconut and blueberry” and, believe it or not, they actually got it exactly right. I’m almost as shocked about that as I am about how enjoyable this whiskey really is. It is a very pleasant fruity aroma. It’s not traditional, but still interesting. This would be fantastic at a blind whiskey tasting.
I’m surprised by the finish as it furnishes multiple waves of flavor that hangs on. It moves the flavor from mostly in the back to mid-mouth and even approaches the front as it continues to linger.
At 80 proof and “un-aged” (literally 5 minutes in the barrel), this “white dog” is very smooth. It is a very easy drinking whiskey and is actually refreshing which is something I normally would never associate with whiskey. It is a somewhat complex taste, but you get what’s advertised. It’s full of fruit and cereal with a long finish. It’s on the sweet side of the spectrum, but not overly so.
I promise this “Silver” whiskey will surprise you and may even delight you, and although I prefer a more traditional, aged whiskey, the idea of a Silver Manhattan intrigues to me. This is an interesting whiskey which will expand your range of whiskey knowledge, experience and taste.
The High West Silver Whiskey Western Oat is readily available. You can find it locally and online priced between $25.99 and $45.00.