Review: High West Barrel Finished Cocktails – Old Fashioned and Manhattan
I may be one of the few people who remembers High West’s first pair of barrel-aged, bottled cocktails, The Barreled Boulevardier and The 36th Vote, both of which have been off the market for years (and which were apparently only available at the distillery). Now High West is back with a pair of new and reformulated ready-to-drink libations, which are in national distribution.
Note: Unopened bottles have a 3-year shelf life; once opened, refrigerate for up to 30 days. Each 375ml bottles makes 6 cocktails, but 750ml options are also available.
High West Old Fashioned Barrel Finished Cocktail – Made with a blend of MGP bourbon and MGP rye, demerara sugar, and bitters. This is heavy with sweet orange notes on the nose — almost to a candylike level. Orange is still the dominant force on the palate, but it’s less overbearing, tempered by notes of chocolate and a splash of aromatic bitters. The finish has a healthy bitterness to it that complements the sweetness, coming across with a bittersweet chocolate character that folds in notes of brewed tea and cola. On the whole it’s fairly straightforward, but it makes for a credible (and complication-free) start to the evening. 86 proof. B+
High West Manhattan Barrel Finished Cocktail – Made with a blend of MGP bourbon and MGP rye, plus two kinds of vermouth (one Italian, one American) and bitters. Many barreled/bottled Manhattans are on the gummy, overly winey side, and High West’s is no exception; you can smell it immediately after pouring a glass. The palate initially offers notes of caramel, vanilla, and rich fruit — but it quickly takes a detour, moving into a hefty and pungent oxidized wine character that soon becomes all-encompassing, enduring well into the sharp and aggressive finish. Despite the sharp attack, that viscous, doughy character is never far off, and it really sucks the life out of the cocktail. It’s just no replacement for a homemade version. 74 proof. C
each $30 (375ml) / highwest.com