Review: Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey

Review: Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey

Highspire_NB_With_Shadow100% heirloom rye. Double pot distilled. Aged for 130 days in used Paso Robles wine barrels. Chill filtered. Finished with oak staves. Made in Kentucky.

Winemaker Austin Hope has turned to whiskeymaking with this foray into distilling with Highspire, a very young rye (not legally able to be called one due to its odd production process) that certainly needs more barrel time under its legs before hitting your gullet — but which has some charms to show off.

The nose of this bright amber spirit starts with somewhat smoky wood notes and intense, roasted grain character. There’s lots of vegetation here on the palate, from dried rye to some wild-tasting weedy notes. The wine makes a bit of an appearance later in the game, with some gentle raisin notes adding nuance along some vanilla that finally makes an appearance. The finish features ample grain, well-roasted and leading to some chocolate and coffee character. Give it time, and these disparate notes eventually start to gel into a more cohesive whole.

In the end, this is extremely young whiskey but it isn’t without some charms. Fans of nicely-aged rye won’t find this compelling, but it does present an interesting profile in a crowded field of often dull craft spirits.

80 proof.


Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Matthew on October 28, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Being from Highspire, I’m kind of insulted that no effort was made to re-establish the distillery in Highspire, PA or to source the rye from farms in the area. As far as I know, all that you’ve done is take the town name, slap it on a bottle, wax nostalgically about the history of the brand and then make it in Kentucky…kinda bullshit if you ask me. About as bad as Jim Beam selling out to a Japanese company. I’m curious, what anyone at this company even knows about Highspire and the people that live there? You get a viable product to bring to market…what does Highspire get? Is your company investing any money back into the community? Donating money to community out-reach programs? Anything at all?

  2. Anonymous on April 22, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Calm down. Please. the population of your town was 2,400 in 2010…and that’s according to wikipedia in 2017. So either the company made up the name and by coincidence its the same name as your town, or someone in the company somehow got introduced to your town in a random way, in which point you should be honored that there is a pretty awesome whiskey named after the place you are from….a place nobody else would pretty much know about <3

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