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High West Showdown: High West Double Rye! & 12 Year Old Rye

High West Double Rye!, 46% abv (92 Proof), $35/bottle
This is an advance tasting of High West Double Rye!, a new product release for High West slated to hit the market within the next month. I’m very excited to be one of the first to publicly review and rate this whiskey. It turned out to be an excellent one indeed. Double Rye! is a blend of a 16 year old 53% Rye Whiskey (37% corn, 10% Barley Malt) and a 2 year old Rye Whiskey (95% rye).

Color: Pure Gold
Nose: Gin Botanicals, Juniper, Pine Sap, Evergreen, Eucalyptus, Menthol, Mint, Fresh herbs, Honey. Green and fresh with a lurking sweetness and oak character. Truly unique!
Flavor: Immediate rye punch of prickly spices, then Gin, menthol, mint, eucalyptus, wildflower honey, and confectioners sugar flavors abound. Those fantastic fresh notes the nose hinted at are present, but with a really pronounced spiced honey flavor that pieces everything together.
Finish: Long and lingering with honeyed sweetness and warm, prickly rye spice.
Overall: Simply put, one of THE most unique whiskeys I’ve ever tried. The nose is unlike anything I’ve sniffed. Truly it smells of gin and evergreen. These young, fresh flavors I assume come predominantly from the 2 year old rye, while the older 16 year old adds its subtle sweetness and depth as you sip. On the palate the gin-like flavors remain but are softened and rounded by the honey notes. If you enjoy Rye or want to try a really different product than what’s available on the market – Double Rye! fits that bill well. It should be coming your way soon.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Superb/Outstanding)

AND

High West 12 year old Rye, 46% abv (92 Proof), $49/375ML bottle
High West sells this big ole rye whiskey directly from their Saloon and Distillery in Park City, UT. I believe they have somewhere around a half dozen barrels, so not quite enough to get it out to the masses, but worth a drop by to pick up if you are in the area. David Perkins has done a great job sourcing some of the best rye whiskey made. This one I feel is his very best.

Color: Deep Amber
Nose: Rich and deep at first, then yielding intense rye spice, caramel, honey, mint, anise/licorice, and Juicy Fruit gum. A “wow” rye nose.
Flavor: Caramel and honey entry then yielding to rye heat, clove, nutmeg, chili, and well integrated toasted oak. As the nose hinted, this one is big and rich. An almost bourbon drinker’s Rye. Thick and viscous in mouth feel – delicious!
Finish: Long, Intense, your whole tongue tingles with spice and warmth. Dry oak and rye is interplayed nicely with honey and caramel flavors.
Overall: One of the finest Rye whiskeys I have had in some time. Deep and rich with incredible rye intensity, well balanced sweetness, and oak. I mentioned almost a “bourbon drinker’s rye”. Clearly this is an unmistakable rye whiskey, but it carries a richness with it that few ryes can match. It gets our top marks for the year in the Rye category so far. That is saying a lot because I felt Whistlepig might be my favorite straight rye of the year. This one tops it. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.5 (Superb/Outstanding)

High West Distillery and Saloon
703 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060
435.649.8300

Note: Samples were provided by High West

18 Comments

  1. Darren Willis says:

    Jason, I have only recently started enjoying Bourbon, even though I am about your age. Forever I was a beer drinker but have been converted to fine bourbon. I REALLY enjoy your website and I think you are amazing at describing the different tastes and nuances of each bourbon you review. Thanks for keeping the website up and until I email again “drink your Bourbon!”

  2. Darren, thank you so much for the nice comments. Glad you started enjoying Bourbon. I just can’t tell you how much I love it and what all goes into making it. It’s a labor of love for those that make it, and something to enjoy and appreciate. Plus there’s only so many things today that are uniquely American. Bourbon is one of those things.

    So keep sipping and trying new ones. If I can offer any suggestions, point you towards anything, or if you have any questions feel free to email me anytime: jmpyle1@gmail.com.

    And thank you again – glad you like the site. It’s something I enjoy doing, and humbling that so many do appreciate it. Happy Holidays and Drink your Bourbon!

    -Jason

  3. James says:

    Hi Jason,

    Good review, really enjoyed it. Pity good bourbon isn’t as easy to get in the UK as Scotch is over in the US! This will continue to frustrate me, at least for the moment guys like you can keep me up to date between visits

  4. Thanks for the comment. I am very happy to keep you up to date until these fine products make it your way. Take care.

    -Jason

  5. sku says:

    Nice review! I tried the Double Rye and WhiskyLive and while I prefer the Rendezvous, I predict that it will be a huge hit. I also think it lends itself very well to rye cocktails.

  6. Thanks Sku. I’m with you on RR vs. DR, but they’re just so different it’s hard to compare them. DR! slots in really well. The price point is good also at $35. I have not mixed a nice cocktail with it but plan on doing so this holiday weekend. Hope you have a great one!

    -Jason

  7. AaronWF says:

    Heya Jason, man your description of that 12 y.o. is making my mouth water! I loved Rendezvous when I first had it; it’s been awhile at this point and I need to revisit. I loved your description of the spicy wildflower honey notes: that more accurately describes the red-hot cinnaminty flavors I’ve observed in the Sazerac 18 and Thomas H. Handy Saz this year. I’ve also found that characteristic in an all-too brief taste of Hudson’s Manhattan Rye. It’s such a fresh, vibrant note to find in a Rye whiskey, and I have to admit that it has spoiled me to another rye I grew to love not too long ago: Templeton. I got a hold of a bottle of the new batch the other week: I don’t know if my tastes have changed or what, but I’m not finding the same pleasure in my current bottle that I found in the past bottling. There’s just kind of a heavy, one-note, dirty-mint cut-grass -type thing going on.

    And I like the Handy Sazerac more than the 18 y.o.; it’s more alive and crisp. Very different comparing the ryes far apart in age, but the young barrel-proofing pour of the Handy has my heart at the moment!

  8. KipFromMI says:

    Hey Jason. I’m really interested in trying a rye whiskey. I’ve got 2 bottles of bourbon in the cupboard (Elijah Craig 12 yr. and Buffalo Trace) and I’m interested in mixing things up a bit. At my local liquor store they have Jim Beam Rye and Jim Beam (ri)1and one or two others I can’t remember off the top of my head. I was looking for a recommendation for something I could either ask the store to order for me or if one of those sound good I could pick one of them up. I think I’d really like to try the High West 12 year. Thanks for the advice.

    Kip

  9. Kip, let me know if there is a price range you are looking for or around. Based on the bourbon’s you mentioned, I will start with something in those ranges. I’d first look at Russell’s Reserve Rye. It’s a 6 year old and it’s fresh and vibrant and extremely good. It’s also a good value in the sub $30 range.

    If you want to look at something a little higher I cannot recommend Rendezvous Rye from High West enough. It’s just awesome stuff. It’s a blend of a 6 year old 95% Rye and a 16 year old 80% Rye. It’s a great great pour in the sub $50 range.

    Rittenhouse Rye is another favorite. It’s around $20.

    Let me know if you can’t find those. The High West 12 is probably the best I’ve had this year. It’s a distillery only offering but you might be able to call them and get them to work something out for you. Hint hint hint. At $50 for a half bottle – it doesn’t come cheap. But it’s great.

    Next I’

  10. Zach says:

    Thanks for the review, I’m pretty excited about these offerings. It looks like you have some sort of sample bottles, do you have any info on the release or availability? I asked around at a couple of local stores that cary other HW products and they didn’t have it in yet; one even suggested that they would only be available at the distillery in Park City. True?

    Thanks for any info,

    z

  11. Thanks for the comment Zach. The 12 year rye is a HW distillery only product. Call them and you might be able to get one sent your way. Wink Wink.

    The double rye was an advance tasting they sent for me to review. It’s a new product to the lineup and will retail for $35. They wanted to get it out by 12/20/2010 but things can get delayed. I read that they would be available at the distillery general store from 1/15 and will be slowly making their way out. If you were keen on trying them call the distillery and they’ll hook you up. But the Double Rye will be available much like Bourye and Rendezvous. Both of these are mind blowers. When you get the Double Rye, remove what your mind tells you Rye whiskey should taste like. It’s a totally different style of whiskey – green, gin-like, and just awesome.

    Now if you do wait for it to hit your store, call you local shop and tell them to call and request it. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and we take for granted these guys are on top of it, but in actuality they most times are not.

    Do me a favor and let me know what you think when you try them.

  12. Love your blog, Jason.

    I’ve been wanting to buy either the Rendez-vous or the Double Rye, but the more I read about them, the more undecided I am. Maybe you can help me decide ?

    Until recently, I was mainly a single malt drinker, as “off the beaten path” American Whisky used to be hard to get in Europe. My tastes are quite eclectic (phenolic, sherried, saline, …), I like them all, as long as the taste is bold, strong, and well-defined, preferably with a full-bodied oily texture.

    I did see that you rated the Rendezvous marginally higher than the Double Rye, but I got the feeling that the Double Rye would be more “special” (as I will probably only get one bottle, not both). My worry from the tasting notes is that it is so special (mint, toothpaste, Gin, …) that it will not taste like Whisky.

  13. Olivier – Rendezvous for sure!!! Awesome rye and both are truly unique.

  14. Thank you for the tip. I’ll order the Rendezvous and let you know my thoughts.

  15. Jason – I have now had the Rendez-vous 3 times.

    The first time I made the mistake of “warming-up” my taste buds with a light Whisky (Arran 10yo, a nice light aperitif malt) because I had heard so much about the spiciness and boldness of Rendez-vous that I was sure I needed a warm-up. This was a mistake, after the Arran, the Rendez-vous tasted very very weak (probably due to being diluted to 46% abv).

    The next 2 days I had the rendez-vous on a clean, unprepared, palate and then it was fantastic tasting. Really complex and original and basically just yummy.

    However, even on an unprepared palate, it felt (not tasted) borderline in strength. It is a real shame that it was not bottled at cask strength or at least above 50% abv. That way I’d be able to put more or less water depending on my mood (and what I had to drink or eat beforehand).

  16. Olivier – thanks for the feedback. I think there is a misconception that rye and spice equals strength, but that is not always the case. Proof can indicate the strength in terms of alcoholic punch, but at 92 proof, it’s not too high. 90′s about normal these days. But it’s the spice elements that are so interesting with Rendezvous for me. Big and bold, but rounded by some of the older juice.

  17. Paul Dray says:

    Hey Jason, just got myself a bottle of Double Rye. I finished off my bottle of Rendezvous which I enjoyed immensely so thought I’d see how the Double Rye compares considering your comments regarding it being so unique.

    Have to say I absolutely love it! In fact for me personally I may actually even slightly prefer it to Rendezvous. Just has a little more complexity and interest I feel. Really diggin’ the Gin Botanical thing going on in it too. It’s certainly ‘different’ as you say. I also get quite a bit of licorice root and spearmint in the mouth.

    Very nice indeed. I do so wish I had the chance to try that 12 year old. Sounds amazing. Alas it is no more..

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