By Father John Rayls
High West Distillery is one of my favorite whiskey providers. I guess I can’t say distillery (in the truest sense) because they are very open about sourcing whiskey from the Midwest; although, they are in process for producing their own whiskey. However, I appreciate their openness about this sourcing issue. You don’t get the sense that this organization is playing any games or trying to hide anything with smoke and mirrors. They are simply creative masters at blending their concoctions. Two of my favorite whiskeys now come from High West. This openness allows you to simply relax and concentrate on enjoying the whiskey experience rather than trying to figure out what the distillery is hiding. The Double Rye! is a marriage of two straight rye whiskeys. One is a two year old 95% rye and 5% barley malt. The other is an older 16 year 53% rye 37% corn mashbill according to High West. (Numbers are from the website)
High West Double Rye! comes in a beautiful bottle with their mountains and “H”/”W” inside a large horseshoe icon giving the bottle a tactile feel. Labeling is also attractive with the color of the whiskey (dark golden and light copper) pulling it all together. The exclamation point in the title Double Rye! helps set the tone for a proper expectation. Of course, this matches well with their marketing department’s description of this whiskey as “the most excitable member of the High West family.” The whiskey looks to be on the thin side of the whiskey spectrums in the bottle, and yet the legs appear to be long (and thin) in the glass.
The nose is as you would expect…spicey. However, it is a demur aroma of rye, cinnamon, menthol and pine nuts. The aroma is apparent, but it doesn’t come across as any kind of bold statement. There isn’t any nasal burn, but just a soft and steady drumbeat of rye and spices.
The taste is surprising after sampling the aromas. It comes across as more of a bold statement. It is a thin whiskey with lots of flavor. It’s a full flavor mouthful of rye complimented with wildflower honey, eucalyptus and other various spices. It doesn’t coat the mouth in any sense, but the flavor begins immediately at the front before jumping strongly to the back. At 92 proof, there isn’t any harshness and Double Rye! goes down very easily. The rye flavor isn’t subtle and it lives up to its name primarily in the back of the mouth. The finish is medium length and strength. This is not a wild on the edge rye whiskey. Instead, it is a flavorful, easy drinking whiskey that makes me dream about Manhattans and I don’t drink many mixed drinks. Drinking it neat allows you to experience a very comfortable ride on the Rye Train. However, if you enjoy a whiskey (rye) forward mixed drink this may be your whiskey of choice.
There seem to be plenty of bottles of High West Double Rye! available around the country. You can grab a bottle for anywhere from 29.99 to 49.99 both locally and online. If you haven’t experimented with a rye whiskey, this is a great place to start.