There is indeed an exclamation point in the official name of High West Whiskey’s latest, cryptic release. I’m not sure how Utah-based High West manages to mix cowboy imagery and metaphors with next-gen, experimental spirit-making technology, but somehow it does. The company now has about a dozen liquors, mostly whiskey, and we’ve gotten our hands on the latest.
Double Rye! is not merely a “double” rye — meant to be consumed in twice the quantity — rather, it’s a blend of two rye whiskies with very different compositions. One is an old 16-year-old (53% rye, 37% corn, 10% mystery). One is a fresh 2-year-old (95% rye, 5% barley).
The result: An oddball indeed, but an enjoyable one. Big rye notes on the nose. This is a whiskey driven by the youngest spirit in the blend, and the woodsy, herbal, and — most blatantly — menthol-like flavors dominate. The corn in the old rye balances this intensity with some sweetness, but I think it could use a bit more; perhaps things could have been skewed a bit toward the older whiskey in the blend.
This is ultimately a very drinkable whiskey, tough and rustic thanks to its baby component, but tricked out with some curious points here and there owing to its older counterpart. Tertiary character is intriguing yet difficult to grasp: Caramel, coal, root beer, licorice/fennel, and a touch of wood smoke. They’re there, but you have to keep going back to the spirit to suss them out. Heh, maybe it really is a “double” rye after all.
Surprisingly easygoing at 92 proof. Reviewed: Bottle #98 from batch #1.
A- / $35 / highwest.com