...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

NOT Single Malt Report: High West Rendezvous Rye

You can count me as one more fan of David Perkins and the High West Distillery team.  They keep cranking out creative (and tasty!) whiskey products -- pulled together from juice they've bought from other distilleries -- as they await the results of their own very young Utah whiskey, currently slumbering in new American oak.  Here are some of their releases:

Bourye -- a mix of 10yr Four Roses bourbon, 12yr LDI rye (95% rye mashbill), and 16yr Barton Distillery rye.  This sold like, well, whiskey.  So now it's gone, but was soon replaced with...
Son of Bourye -- 5yr Four Roses bourbon and 3yr LDI rye (95% rye mashbill)
Campfire -- Four Roses bourbon + LDI rye (95% rye mashbill) + a peated Scottish blended malt
American Prairie Reserve -- 10yr Four Roses bourbon + 6yr LDI bourbon
Double Rye -- 16yr (53% mashbill) Barton Distillery rye + 2yr (95% mashbill) LDI rye.

Product: Rendezvous Rye
Distillery: Barton/Tom Moore and LDI distilleries
Producer: High West
Type: Straight Rye Whisky
Region: Utah (High West), Indiana (LDI), Barton (Kentucky)
Age / Mashbill: 16 years, 80% rye 10% corn 10% malted barley (Barton) + 6 years, 95% rye 5% malted barley (LDI)
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(many thanks to LA Whisk(e)y Society for the distillery and mashbill data)

How can one not love these combos?!  I'm pretty much a whisk(e)y purist, but these blends are crazy and brilliant.  Any great chef or bartender will divulge that one of the keys to a great dish or cocktail is the use of the highest quality ingredients.  High West has taken that to heart.  I'm coo-coo for LDI rye (if you haven't gathered that yet), thus David Perkins has my full attention.

I had my eye on Rendezvous first.  About to pull the trigger on it, I asked K&L's David Driscoll: "What rye would you recommend to a Willett fan?"  Without a pause, he replied, "High West's Rendezvous."  So I bought it and now it's almost gone.  But before my bottle goes empty, I must do an official tasting:

The color is all maple syrup.  The nose holds lots of good oak elements, especially vanillins, leather, and a bundle of tropical fruit.  There's also a strong note of pencil shavings that I've found in toasted French oak-matured whisky.  Something savory in there too...can we smell "savory"?  Finally, there's a big wallop of rye seeds.  Those rye seeds hang around in the palate, joined by cinnamon, hay, and a marshmallowy sweetness.  The LDI rye zing is present but restrained by the older Barton whiskey.  A hint of black cherry.  More than a hint of black pepper.  Here comes the spice kick in the very lengthy finish.  Candied vanilla pods meet caramel corn, along with a distant vegetal note from the spirit.

Adding water makes it creamier, and brings out some bubblegum and fresh cherry notes.  The palate is softer but still finishes strong.

Even The Wife enjoys this one.  But then again, she seems to be smitten with LDI rye too.

This is politer than the barrel-strength Willetts, but still a muscular whiskey.  I recommend this to folks who like high rye mashbills and also to those of us who'd like to experience a little older rye without handing out the $200+ which will undoubtedly be the pricing on 16-year ryes in the near future.  For you cocktail fans, this makes for a brisk lively Sazerac, though it works best all alone in the glass.

Now, what High West shall I buy next......?

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - $48-$55
Rating - 88


  1. You can actually still find bottles of the 21 YO rye that High West Bottled for ~$120. They also bottled some of the 16 YO rye by itself, which I sadly passed on before it disappeared.

    I figure it'll be at least a decade before we start seeing many long aged ryes again.

    1. Yeah, I've seen the 21yr around. I think K&L had some when I bought the Rendezvous several months back. The price tag on it seemed steep for a whiskey I knew nothing about. Actually, now that I look at it, they have a couple cases of 375mL bottles at $70. The guys at LAWS do say that the 16yr had more of a kick.

  2. My vote goes with High West Double Rye: it is quite similar to the Rendezvous, but at same prices as the Willett Rye. In fact, I liked the Double Rye better than the Rendezvous - I found those bright spice notes livelier. My wife loves them too! :) BTW, I mentioned to you the on-line store where they sell Rendezvous on sale at same price as the Double Rye, right?

    The day I opened the Rendezvous and the Double Rye my life changed.

    1. Mmmmm, yes, you did mention that online store and their prices haven't yet changed...

      I'm considering the Double especially with that very young spicy rye in there.

  3. Campfire! It will make you cry tears of joy.

    1. Gotta find someplace to try it before I jump in feet first. That combo sounds brilliant!