Thanks to /u/EMoneySC2 for the awesome, big ole swap, that included these three drams. I finally was able to try whisky from Utah.
So let’s stop right there. I tell you, hey, want to try High West Whiskey? And you’ll be like, “Sure… where’s it made?” And then I’ll say “Oh, Utah.” And then a damn Pace commercial happens all over again, and no one wants that.
I mean, Utah? Seriously, Utah? Known for Mormons who…. don’t drink. Only… 4.6% Scottish… hmmm…. And low teenage pregnancy. Man, it’s not sounding good for whisky drinking so far.
However… it is one of the youngest states in the Union, and there’s a strong mining industry… maybe Utah will work out.
Built in the back of a Saloon, High West was Utah’s first distillery back in 1870s (That’s a big deal to our European readers. Pretend I said 1200 B.C. for an equivalent). Well, it lasted until Prohibition… and then we jump to 2007, when they finally opened back up, becoming Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870.
Right now they use LDI and Barton for Rye, and Four Roses and Barton for their Bourbon. They are currently waiting to see how their own young Utah whiskey does.
Well, let’s see what this distillery offers.
Up first, High West Campfire. Made up of Four Roses Bourbon, LDI Rye with a 95% rye mashbill, and a peated Scottish blended malt (not an Islay). According to legend, it came to David Perkins while enjoying a whisky syrup over melon.
Now, this can go either way. On the one hand, it could end up being like a really good stew: Throw it all in one pot, add some seasoning, and you’ve… got a good stew… shit, got ahead of myself there.
Or it could end up like that time you were a kid and tried to mix all your food on your plate and it tasted like hell. Which was awkward.
Oh well, let’s see if this is stew or not.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Dull Orange
Nose: Orange, caramel, cardamon, cloves, field of flowers, melted margarine, ash
Lots of spice and orange at first. Keeps going, and I get some floral notes… not a lot of peat, more an ashy smell.
Eventually, after letting it sit, it has this fake butter smell, and the other notes become quite muted.
Was hoping for some smoke here. Odd.
Taste: Tons of caramel, soot, smoke, burn, pepper, gummy bears
Do you crave caramel while liquid is in your mouth? Then do I have a drink for you! A metric shit ton of caramel!
After a bit there’s some smoke, and a fruity flavour. I don’t really know what to expect anymore, it’s more fruity than smoky. The smoke does come as it opens up.
Finish: Smoke, corn, dry wheat, cantaloupe, allspice
There’s the smoke! Right at the end, coming to save the day. Nice spice and fruitiness too. Finish is the best part.
Conclusion: I’m a peat head. I know it, I know it changes how I review things, it’s my bias, we all know it.
So when I was told this had a peated whisky in it, I will admit I was excited. And the idea came to Mr. Perkins while at Bruichladdich, on Islay. So it’s sad that I had to do some digging and find out they didn’t use an Islay, which is frustrating, because something called High West Campfire should be… well, a campfire!
Separating that bias is hard, however I’m attempting to do it. The nose starts out as a nice floral, spice, and citrus flavour, however over time devolves into margarine and ash.
The taste was very caramel-y, had some smoke to it, and a nice candy taste. Overall it was unbalanced, burned, and the good notes were marred by the bad notes.
The finish was the best part. Balanced, a tad smokey, some nice fruit and spice in the end. Best part of the dram.
So it’s unbalanced, the nose has issues, and the finish is nice. I don’t feel bad giving it the score I did.
Second in this trio of tastings is High West Son of Bourye, a 5 year Four roses bourbon and a 5 year LDI rye. Made after the original Bourye sold out, this one is a lot younger than I’m typically used to.
And that’s what I told the officer, but he didn’t believe me.
Anyway, the company is known for quality, so maybe the age means little? It is non-chill filtered, and a decent Abv., so let’s see.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Dark Chocolate
Nose: Orange, rye spices, cranberry, floral, chocolate, cayenne, butter
The rye is really taking the wheel on this one. Lots of floral, fruit notes. And some butter and chocolate. It’s light, however a very enjoyable nose.
The floral aspect is the nicest, as rye floral notes are a good standout and add a nice dimension.
Taste: Passionfruit, nutmeg, burn, cream, brown sugar, olive oil
Again subtle, almost oily taste. Also some burn mixed with cream. Having trouble with the melding of the flavours. Quite basic, almost.
The youth is showing. Which, if you’ve ever slept with a virgin, know that isn’t the best thing.
Finish: Caramel, mineral water, orange juice, smoke, salty, burnt sugar
Hey, the smoke I wanted from the last dram… mixed with some (wait for it)… bitter notes.
Little bit unbalanced on this one. Which, if you’ve ever attempted reverse cowgirl with a virgin, you know that can be a problem.
Conclusion: There’s a good start here for a dram. It is developing some nice flavours, some great elements, and they’ve even created a tasty nose. But just like dating in your 20s, a nice nose doesn’t mean good taste or a proper finish.
Finally we end with High West American Prairie Reserve, which is a blend of 10 year Four Roses bourbon and 6 year LDI bourbon. Named after the largest wildlife reserve in the lower 48 states, this Montana Reserve (when completed) will cover an area the size of Connecticut.
And if you can think of anything better to do with Montana, they’re all ears.
The bird on the front of the label is the Greater Sage Grouse, an Endangered Species that thrives in the reserve.
So, let’s see how this blend of bourbons stands up.
Price: $70.75 (CAD) in Ontario
Colour: Golden brown
Nose: Lots of dill, corn, coconut oil, cinnamon, lilies
Ever stick your head in a dill pickle jar? Like, for a week? No? Well you don’t have to, just nose this before it’s ready.
I gave this double the time to air out, and there still was a lot of dill on it. Eventually, the other flavours start to bounce forward, freed from their dill enclosure, running about on the reserve.
It was magical. Or at least, nicer than one note. Still somewhat simple, though nice once they all show up. Kinda like an orgy.
Taste: Sweet corn, floral, coconut, orange rind, dill, caramel
Wow. This is nice. I mean, at first I was worried it’d be like eating pickle water, however… very nice, dry flavours, some dill for kick (not overpowering). I could sip this.
This is a good, simply flavour too. Something you can like, yet doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.
Finish: Hard candy, Mandarin orange, cloves, ginger, lemon rind, some funk
Very sweet and acidic. Which is almost needed after the dry, rounded flavour. A little bit of funk in there, however that’s the worst of it.
Conclusion: Well rounded, nothing too fancy, and nice to drink. Giving it time to breathe is a must, otherwise… it hurts so bad.
Good mixture of flavours on the finish as well. Hoping to see where this goes.
Bourbon reviews #26-28, Utah reviews #1-3, Whiskey Network reviews #260-262