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Review: High West Son of Bourye

High West Son of Bourye is the latest “blend” of straight whiskeys from the boys in Utah. Like its father Bourye, this whiskey is a blend of a bourbon (5 year old with a mashbill of 75% corn and 20% rye) mingled together with a rye whiskey (3 year old 95% mashbill). The remaining 5% in each is barley malt. Bourye utilized older whiskeys for the blend (10, 12, and 16 years old).

Let’s see how this SOB tastes………

High West Son of Bourye, 42% abv (92Proof), $40

Color: Medium Amber

Nose: Sweet mint, vanilla, honey and golden fruits lifted by juniper, evergreen, fresh herbs, flint and wood/oak.

Palate: Soft and honeyed right at front entry, but builds swiftly to a spicy mid palate of mint, chili, and cinnamon red hot candy. Very bright and very drinkable!

Finish: Increasing warmth, wood notes, and big cinnamon flavors. Medium in length.

Overall: The folks at High West know how to bring together good whiskeys and make them so much better than the sum of their parts. Son of Bourye lacks the depth of Bourye, but is a more harmonious whiskey in my opinion. The rye plays lead, but the bourbon keeps it grounded as you would expect. I’m not sure what the ratio of the blend is but I’m guessing it pushes 75% rye to 25% bourbon. I’ll try to get David Perkins of High West to at least let me know if I am close. This is an excellent whiskey if you are looking for something extremely drinkable that is also lively, spicy, and fun.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.7 (Very Good/Excellent)

32 Comments

  1. Rick B. says:

    $40 seems a bit high. Lots of great whiskeys out there for less money. I’m sure it’s good, but there doesn’t seem to be much “value” built in to the price.

  2. Rick, I certainly understand. $40 territory brings in a lot of competition, but I do consider that a very reasonable price for an interesting pour. Are there better whiskeys at $40? Absolutely, I’ve reviewed many that are, but I can’t fault them on the price. I think it’s fair.

  3. Dave says:

    I’ve had the Bourye but not the Son of Bourye. It’s a very interesting pour and an even more interesting concept. It makes me wonder how well we could do ourselves experimenting with straight bourbon/rye vattings. Mixing the Wild Turkey 101 bourbon and rye together, for example, makes intuitive sense at least.

  4. Anon says:

    Over on another forum, one of the recent mixings has been Pappy 15 and Van Winkle Rye. I’ve done it and the results are actually quite good. However, you’re starting with some good standalone stuff, so adding them together might not really create much benefit. Starting with some mid-quality ingredients and making something great out of a combination would be a more admirable goal. You’d want to pick a mixture of things that would provide a continuum of flavor, like a spicy rye whose flavor blast can peter out with a longer lingering bourbon. Maybe like a Baby Saz/Weller 12 mixture or a Rittenhouse/EWSB concoction, and not necessarily in a 50/50 mix.

  5. DBMaster says:

    May as well get used to calling “the former LDI” by its new name, “MGP.” (Midwest Grain Products)

  6. DBMaster – this is very true!

  7. BMc says:

    5-year-old bourbon and 3-year-old rye? Can’t I just buy some Four Roses Yellow Label and Willett Rye, and mix them myself for half the price?

  8. BMc – I suppose you could if you wanted to buy them both at $17 and $50 respectively and fiddle with it. Like others have mentioned on this thread – I enjoy vatting and blending my own. I’ve got my own personal version of the Last Drop, and I have fun blending and I do so often with a lot of different whiskeys. Many times you end up with absolute crap on your hands.

    What High West does is not necessarily rocket surgery by any means. However, few are doing it and doing it well. I do laugh when I read others talk about blending as though you slap this with that and viola – fantastic whiskey. It’s a lot like cooking. A little too much of one thing vs. another and you end up with something merely good vs. great or excellent…..or maybe even awful. It’s simple conceptually, and only from the standpoint that it can be done. Execution can be tough though.

  9. BMc says:

    Well Jason, I’m a crappy cook :) I have no idea how hard it is, and my wife doesn’t even want me to try!

    Still, since Willett is $33 around here, I could get both for the same price as SOB, which is closer to $50 up here, and give it a shot. In the worst case scenario, my wife could take over!

    It’s just the price point that gets me. If I see it at a bar, I’ll probably order it.

  10. Let me preface the statement I’m about to make with this: I love High West. Every product I’ve had of theirs has been fantastic, and I’ve had a good many of them, and will continue to buy their products.

    However, I think BMc makes a decent point. I feel like they’re missing the mark a bit on price. Do we know the components of SOB? It seems likely that it is 5 year FR blended with 3 year LDI. If this is true, I have a hard time with the markup being charged for coming up with the ideal mixture for these 2 component whiskies. Especially given their relative young age.

    Anyone besides BMc and I feel this way?

  11. sam k says:

    I don’t think High West is missing the mark on price at all. They know exactly what the market will bear based on the reviews and sales of a quality lineup of great whiskeys issued over the past few years, both sourced and own-made.

    They seem to think they are charging what the market will bear, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. These days, $40 is hardly exorbitant for an innovative and tasty whiskey.

    This should not stop anyone from doing a bit of blending on their own…in fact it should encourage that creative spark! I’d bet most people reading this blog wouldn’t have to invest a dime to come up with blending stock. Just take stuff you have on hand, some things your instinct says would work, and give it a shot. God bless America!

  12. SteveBM says:

    I love High West Double Rye and Rendezvous Rye. Fantastic products.

    I may be in the minority here, but I do not like Bourye or Son of Bourye. I find the flavors to be odd and always want the bourbon or rye to shine through. It’s probably just a personal preference as it seems many here like it. I’d rather drink the individual ingredients than the blend but maybe that’s just me. Two wrongs don’t make a right but in this case two or three rights make a wrong.

  13. BMc says:

    You’re right, Sam, I have plenty of Four Roses whiskey of various ages and proofs, and a 5 year Willett rye at the moment. Come the weekend, I’ll be blending my own version of SOB.

    I can see Jason’s notes on my blends – “sharp, painful, and the finish is nasty, brutish, but thankfully short.” Actually, he’d never write anything so harsh, but I’ve blended some pretty nasty stuff.

  14. iskch1 says:

    My two cents: blending whisk(e)y is an art. High West is a Micro Distillery, so price is going to be little bit higher than the regular big boys.

  15. David Perkins says:

    Hi gentlemen,
    Thanks for all the comments. Jason, thanks for the thoughtful review. Sorry to take so long getting back. Happy to throw my 2 cents in for what its worth:
    - the age statements (5 year bourbon and 3 year rye) are actually minimum ages, when we launched the product, the label has to say minimum ages by law. The whiskey is actually older as we speak because once you make the investment in printing labels you stick to it for awhile.
    - the bourbon is now 6+ and in fact tastes a bit older because it was stored in a heated warehouse which accelerated the age by about a year (at least to me)
    - the rye is 3. I do like the flavor of the 3. Having said that…
    - we are actually experimenting with a blend of a 6 and a 6 right now for the SOB. Should be out this summer. Its a bit richer and deeper. We will put the batch numbers on our website so you know.
    - jason: your guess on the ratio of bourbon to rye? thats top secret? but you are not correct!
    - gentlemen: blending is one of the most rewarding activities I have done in my new career. I encourage all of you to try it. Let me just say we did about 30 blends for son of bourye before we came up with our final. It sounds simple, and at the end of the day it is. But its amazing what a 1-2% difference in ratios can do to ultimate taste. We are looking for the final product to be better than the sum of the parts. If you don’t, why bother. Its very hard to take 2 mediocre or OK things and make them better. You can take 2 very good things and make something worse as well. But you can take different things that are good and increase complexity. The other big factor is bottle shock. We found that we had to make the blends, then let them sit 1-2 days before tasting. Something we would like right away often got worse the 2nd day and vice versa. I found that fascinating.
    I hope that covers most of the questions. Again, its great to see comments. I’m not after everyone liking everything High West does, I am for striking the fancy of some people who really think a product is delicious. I am even more for being provocative and trying new things and encouraging others to experiment and broaden their palate. So go create some blends at home! It is really fun.
    Best, David

  16. David, thank you for the comments. Great insight and information on SOB, High West’s approach, and some of things you have to take into account with blending. It’s indeed fascinating for us whiskey geeks to hear about what goes into making a great blend.

    Cheers!

    -Jason

  17. Rick B. says:

    Heh, all this talk of blending gets me to thinking, I wonder if you could breath some life into Makers Mark by adding a bit of say……Bulliet Rye? Couldn’t hurt.

    I’ve never attempted blending anything myself, but I have noticed on a few occasions that following up a short pour of something like Elija Craig-12, with say Rittenhouse 100 makes for an interesting shift in flavor.

    Of course I would only do this because my cigar needed company for awhile yet. ;)

  18. BMc says:

    When I do my blends, I fill mini bottles and let them sit for a while. I never have done 1-2% variations, though!

    High West Rendezvous was the first American whiskey I purchased in my life. High West has been with me, literally, for my entire whiskey drinking experience. So please believe I do not mean to seem skeptical!

  19. Texas says:

    Mr. Perkins,

    I sure wish you would get a distributor for Texas. I have had your great products in New Mexico ordered via Binny’s, but sure would like to be able to get them at home in Texas!

  20. Lazer says:

    its good to see your face again Jason.

  21. sam k says:

    Perkins! It’s good to see you here in an open forum to discuss your products and provide some insight. You and I don;t always see eye-to-eye, but I certainly think you’re doing the American whiskey business a lot of good by working outside the accepted parameters.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  22. David Perkins says:

    Texas: we literally just got into Texas 2 weeks ago. The fine folks at Pioneer Wine company are our distribution partners. So hopefully we will make it to a place near you.
    Sam: thanks for the kind comments. I think we don’t see eye to eye because your like a foot taller than me.
    Best
    David

  23. mike says:

    Jason

    Waiting for your review on the Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 yr…

    Can you confirm or dispel the rumors of it being weller juice and similar to pappy?

  24. Mike,

    I will let Jason chime in as he is usually more knowledgeable than I, but there has been significant discussion about the provenance of Jefferson’s 18 on other boards and the final verdict was that what’s inside Jefferson’s 18 is indeed Stitzel-Weller juice. The Pappy’s that are currently thought to be SW are the 20 and 23 year. Everything younger than that is clearly Buffalo Trace distillate.

    Ryan

  25. Bmac says:

    I have actually been blending for some time. I have learned that ratios are everything. Much like the Scotch whiskey blends, you need a core whisky and the rest are flavor whiskeys. I pick young whiskeys as my core (core is no less than 50% of the entire mix). Then I add older whiskeys to balance out the youngins’. You cna make some brilliant stuff. Just like David said, it has to sit; sometimes for a week or more before the particles “marry” with each other. Blending adds a whole new value to whiskey…..and gives new use to some of those empty bourbon bottles ;).

  26. Ryan Murphy – you are dead on as far as I’m aware (Re: Jeffersons 18). I don’t have any reason to doubt what they are saying, and you are correct on the 20 and 23. Preston confirmed this to Sku over at his RecentEats.blogspot.com website.

    Cheers!

  27. BMc says:

    Okay, I did experiment a little bit with vatting:

    2 parts Four Roses Single Barrel, 2 parts Bulleit bourbon, 3 parts Willett Rye (though you can probably use 3 or 4 parts Bulleit rye to keep costs down), 1 part water.

    After letting it sit for 2 hours, I found it to be deliciously peppery with a strong apple peel finish that lasted for several minutes. I added 1 part 1979 Cabin Still to it later, which killed it, but I won’t rule out some other wheater in the future, just a dash, to sweeten it up a bit. In the future, I’ll get a bunch of minis, empty them, and set up more systematic vattings that will sit for a few days before tasting.

    If you get these “ingredients” on sale, it’s not expensive at all.

  28. Icedogs says:

    Thanks for this review. I rec’d a bottle of SOB for my b’day in April, and I have yet to open it. But I tried it on Friday at Bluegrass Tavern in Baltimore (go there; it’s a fine place, and Kelly the manager and Jenna the bartender are terrific hosts). SOB was a very pleasant whiskey and I am glad to have it on hand at home. Very “drinkable”, despite the rye (which I think is often an acquired tasted and sometimes hot and a bit difficult to enjoy, especially for those who like highland Scotch and Canadian stuff). Any idea what the MSRP is for SOB? I think I saw it on the shelf at a DC liquor store for $80, and that seems like a stiff cover charge. Anyway, I’m a big fan of that SOB!

  29. CNA says:

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my
    comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say great blog!

  30. CNA, sorry the post didn’t work right. Thanks for the feedback!

  31. Bmac says:

    I decided to get SOB to try something a little different. I found Jason’s review 110% spot on. It hits hard and heavy with great rye and spice, cinnamon flavors. For me it loses points on the heat that I get on the finish. However, the flavor is intense and I like it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it was not chill filtered. The moutthfeel is very “unctuous” as Jason would say ;).

  32. Cheers Bmac!

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