Whisky Advocate

Review: Two High West Rye Whiskeys

April 24th, 2009

Here are two new rye whiskeys from High West. They are completely different from each other. I’d like to see a marriage of the two styles.

High West Rocky Mountain Rye (Batch #2), 21 year old, 46%, $130
Made from a mash containing 53% rye and aged in used barrels. The relatively low rye content, along with being aged in used barrels means this is one soft, smooth rye whiskey. Gentle mint, green tea, cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted nuts, glazed fruit and candied corn, all lie on a bed of vanilla and caramel. I tasted a “work in progress” sample last year which showed more oak. This expression is much better. Not as complex or dynamic as the flagship “Rendezvous Rye” from High West (Which I rated a 95 in an earlier review here), but I could drink this stuff all day long.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89

High West Rocky Mountain Rye (Batch #1), 16 year old, 46%, $80
Made from a mash containing a whopping 80 percent rye. The antithesis of the 21 year old reviewed above. This is one bold rye whiskey which gets more powerful as it develops on the palate. It’s crisp, clean and very spicy (cool mint, hot cinnamon), with molasses, caramel, honey, golden raisin, kiwi, coconut shavings, and a dusting of cocoa. A lighter-weight whiskey when compared to High West’s flagship Rendezvous Rye, but this whiskey throws a mean punch!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

2 Responses to “Review: Two High West Rye Whiskeys”

  1. JD says:

    I tried both these whiskies at WhiskyFest a few weeks back. Of the two, I think I liked the higher-rye 16-yo better, John, but I do agree that the best of the High West series is their original Rendezvous Rye. That was one of my favorite finds last year. I just hope to see it more widely available soon! Also, I wonder just how much of it there is? I know it’s basically meant as a stopgap while High West’s own spirit ages, but it will be sad when they (eventually) run out.

    • John Hansell says:

      JD, I think it depends on what you want. If you like a smooth rye, then the 21 y/o is the one you want. But if you like your rye very intense, then go for the 16 y/o. But yes, I think we can all agree that the Rondezvous Rye marries the best of both worlds.

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