Whisky Advocate

High West “Bourye”–a blend of straight rye and bourbon whiskeys!

September 28th, 2009

Bourye_Front[1]David Perkins at the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah is at it again. He got his hands on some 12 year old straight rye whiskey (95% rye) and 10 year old straight bourbon whiskey (15% rye) and blended them together to make one whiskey. He’s calling it “Bourye” (combining the words “bourbon” and “rye”, in case you didn’t get that). It’s being bottled at 46%.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the front label shows a picture of a jackalope.  Here’s what the back label says:

The jackalope, also called an antelabbit, is an antlered species of
rabbit, a cross between a jack rabbit and an antelope with horns
on the top of their head. It is rumored that pockets of jackalope
populations continue to persist in the American West, its native
home. In the old West, when cowboys would gather by their
campfi res to sing at night, jackalopes would frequently be heard
singing back, mimicking the voices of the cowboys. When chased,
the jackalope will use its vocal abilities to elude capture. For instance,
when chased by people it will call out phrases such as, “There he
goes, over there,” in order to throw pursuers off its track. Legend
suggests the best way to catch a jackalope is to lure it with whiskey,
as they have a particular fondness for this drink. Once intoxicated,
the animal becomes slower and easier to hunt.

That’s why High West created Bourye, our proprietary blend of
Bourbon and Rye, both favorites of real cowboys and sure to attract
even the most fi nicky of jackalopes. The bourbon is a 10-year-old
with a 75% corn, 15% rye, 10% barley malt mashbill. The rye is
a straight 12-year-old 95% rye, 5% barley malt mashbill. Its best
enjoyed around a campfi re while looking at the Milky Way.

Important! Jackalopes will attack if cornered or provoked. To
avoid injury, quickly fall to the ground, remain calm and still,
while humming the Roy Rogers song, “Happy Trails to You.”

Proprietor and Distiller
David Perkins

He’s sending me a review sample. I’ll let you know my thoughts when I taste it. If you want to know more about price and availability, reach out to David directly: david@highwest.com

So, this got me thinking. Has anyone ever blended a fully matured straight rye whiskey with a straight bourbon whiskey before? (Yes, I know sometimes blends like this are done when formulating Canadian whiskeys, but then they’re diluted with a more “neutral” tasting base whiskey.)

17 Responses to “High West “Bourye”–a blend of straight rye and bourbon whiskeys!”

  1. Dutch says:

    That means it ends up with 37 1/2% corn, 55% rye and 7 1/2% malt, should be interesting, I’m hoping they did this as it benefited both whiskeys and not to cover up some flaws, let us know what you think and what it’s availability will be.

  2. Trippah says:

    Depending on the blending ratio, I’ll guess that the end product will taste like other aged rye whiskeys on the market though it is a novel way to use what probably began as excess rye blending stock. I liked the bit of Rendezvous Rye that I tried, so I will do my best to sneak a sample of this if it hits my market.

  3. sam k says:

    Dutch, you assume that this is a 50-50 blend, though it may be a much more disproportionate ratio of one to the other.

  4. John Hansell says:

    Sam, you are correct. I don’t think we can assume it’s a 50-50 blend.

  5. I loved the Rendezvous from last year. Let’s hope some of this stuff trickles down to the Netherlands…

  6. John Hansell says:

    I received this email fro David Perkins today:

    “I sent the wrong back label to you. Version control issue. The only difference is that the real Bourye has an additional rye whiskey in it, a 16 year old 53% rye, 37% corn, 10% malt mashbill.”

    Something to make note of. There’s two different rye whiskeys in there.

    He also sent me an image of the front label, which I included in the post.

  7. Gary Gillman says:

    John, I am sure it is an excellent product. The company’s Rendezvous, which combines a 6 and 16 year old straight rye, is very good indeed.

    Up until the 1950′s or so it was not uncommon to see a blend of straight whiskeys. It might be a combination of all-rye whiskeys, or all-bourbon whiskeys, or some of each type. Also, straight whiskeys that were not bourbon or rye, e.g., a straight whiskey of which no grain reached more than 50%, were sometimes blended with bourbon or ryes. Essentially all this is a kind of vatting in Scots terms (or the older terminology at any rate) but it has its own independent history in the U.S. and it is great to see modern examples.

    The Rendezvous has a light but creamy taste and there is a mango-like note (or maybe tangerine or lemon) which adds good complexity. A fine product again which deserves the attention of any fan of American whiskey and its traditions. Based on the quality of Rendezvous I will certainly seek out this new product.

    Gary

  8. Abinash says:

    Are the components from the same distillery? Can this kind of blends be called bourbon or rye according to US law?

  9. John Hansell says:

    Abinash, I doubt they are from the same distillery. He didn’t say. I don’t know the final composition and what they can call it. I think he probably can only call it what he has on the label: a blend of straight whiskeys.

  10. Gary says:

    I hope that makes it’s way east. I would love to give it a try.

  11. Gary Gillman says:

    John, recently I was looking at advertisements for bourbon whiskey in old magazines.

    Here is one from 1941, from Life magazine, it is on page 66, if it does not appear when you click on the lick, scroll to PAGE 66 using the page counter at the top (next to contents):

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Yk4EAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_hp#v=onepage&q=bourbon&f=false

    This is even for the time an unusually detailed advertisement. The product advertised was a blend of straight whiskeys. Schenley offered two versions, one all-bourbon, one all-rye. The make up was 3 whiskeys 5 years old each, one 6 years old, and the last 11 years old.

    The ad tells us the precise percentage of each, note that the 11 year old went in at only 1% and the 6 year old at 11%, almost of all the contents were therefore 5 years old but there were 3 of these latter, each having an assigned role in the blend. The ad also gives the blender’s rationale for using each type: one gave body, one “tang”, one “aroma” (the oldest one) and so on. I’ll bet this was a fine product, clearly it was carefully thought through and tested.

    This is typical of how a blend of straight whiskeys was put together in the 1930′s and 1940′s at any rate.

    Clearly the whiskeys would have been sourced at different distilleries. Schenley would have made some of them in Schenley, PA,, but not all. (If they were all made at Schenley and each type was all-bourbon or all-rye as stated, it would have been possible I think under the law to call it simply straight bourbon or rye whiskey – the reason to state a blend was I think the provenance of some of the whiskeys from other distilleries or out of State).

    This gives a pretty good idea how it was done then. I think one could extend the formula in different ways, e.g., for a luxury blend, just double the ages of everything, although no doubt each company had its own blends worked out for the different qualities.

  12. John Hansell says:

    Thanks Gary. Very interesting.

  13. sam k says:

    Good stuff, Gary! In perusing a 1936 Pennsylvania State Store price guide, there are categories for “Blends of Straight Rye Whiskeys,” “Blends of Straight Bourbon Whiskeys,” and “Blends of Straight Whiskeys” (presumably rye and bourbon together, though some still have the word “rye” in the name of the brand).

    In all of the straight whiskey categories in this guide, those distilled in PA are noted as such, though the blends are not, presumably because they may have contained whiskey from other states.

  14. Gary Gillman says:

    Thanks, Sam, for that information. I think the non-pure bourbon and pure rye blends of straight whiskeys, in addition possibly to combining rye and bourbon, might have had some whiskey which was straight (distilled under 160, aged >2 years in new charred oak) but no grain of which exceeded 50%. A whiskey, like, say, Michter’s Original Sour Mash, which I know you were familiar with, Sam. (50% rye, 38% corn, the rest barley malt).

    How could 1% very old whiskey help the bouquet? It seems so little. But due to the detail of this old ad, I’d like to think the company put a lot of thought into it and the results were as promised.

    I might make a small batch of my own Schenley 1941-style straight whiskey blend, I have the whiskeys of the ages and characteristics needed. It will be bourbon in this case. I will call it my “MacArthur blend” in honor of the subject of the cover of that issue of Life magazine. If I do this I will put a note here of the results.

    Gary

  15. sam k says:

    Gary, please do let us know how it turns out! I’m also curious which whiskey you have that will provide that elusive “tang.”

    I could be mistaken, but I think the Michter’s proportions had corn in the lead, not rye, and I still have issues with the veracity of those numbers, anyway…but that’s for another time and place.

    Always a pleasure!

    Sam

  16. Texas says:

    Gary I am fascinated by old whisk(e)y. That was really very interesting.

  17. Hi all,
    I apologize for taking so long to reply. Hopefully this reply won’t get lost in the archives of John’s blog.
    - Gary: thanks a million for the history. I was sure we weren’t the first to do this. Its awfully hard to be original these days. But back to the ad, yes, even a 1% component or change in a component can have a big impact on the final taste. We sure noticed it esp with the 16 year old rye. The old juice adds significant richness and we spent alot of time dialing that in.
    - Dutch and Sam: the final “blended mashbill” is not an exact 50/50 mix of corn and rye. I’ll leave that as a mystery as thats our “special sauce”.
    - Abinash: all the whiskies came from different distilleries!

    Regards,
    David

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