Recently High West sold off their distillery. And thus, it’s time to start saying, before anyone else, say it’s gone bad and time to grab all the whiskies while you still can.
That’s right folks. In no way will the old company be the same way as it ever has been. It’s all screwed. Run for the hills. Hide all the bottles. Forget the company from here on out.
Or… we could wait and see. Bruichladdich seems to have stayed the course after being bought. Glendronach and BenRiach survived. We’ll have to see if it goes right or wrong.
Regardless of all that, I decided it was a great time to finally get my act in gear and finish up some special Double Rye! samples.
Special not in that they’re somehow different but the same type of whisky. No, these are stronger versions that have been finished in different types of barrels.
And that’s pretty cool, right?
So we have three finishes. Manhattan, ex-Campfire, and ex-Bourbon casks.
I’m going to assume you know what the ex-Bourbon cask is. This is a place to discuss whiskey, so I’m assuming you’ve jumped that hurdle. If not, you may want to do a little bit of Googling.
Manhattans. Now, again, this is a whiskey kinda place. I normally would just say “Oh, I assume you know what this is”, but let’s not, because I need to pad this review due to a constant need to hear my own thoughts and write it out as a way to mentally masturbate.
A Manhattan is a cocktail that uses whisk(e)y, sweet vermouth, and bitters. I personally like them with cherries and on the rocks, and the whiskey is Irish. But you can drink them however you like.
And finally the last (or second) is Campfire. Before you wonder if they had a fire in a barrel with marshmallows and a bunch of hot dogs, and maybe threw in a few Eagle Scouts, I can say they didn’t. Or least they didn’t this time. That’d be grizzly (PUNS).
Campfire is the name of the High West product that is a blend of bourbon, rye, and peated Scotch whiskies. After putting that in a barrel, they used that barrel. Not the flaming one with dead teens. That one was special, and it gets gin in it.
Let’s not talk about the secret gin aging study. Let’s see how these tastes.
Price: N/A at the LCBO
High West Double Rye! Manhattan Finish
Nose: Cardamon, brown sugar, cloves, almond, caramel Italian soda, lemon mint
Nice amount of orange, lots of holiday spices, and interesting almost fuzziness to this.
Fuzziness, you may ask? Well I meant the feeling you get when you smell a pop and it smells fuzzy and fizzy. Or maybe auto correct is the bandit and I hate red squiggly lines.
Nice nose, is what I’m saying.
Taste: Orange soda, caramel, ginger, brine, green melon, dry red grape, butter
More orange. Lots of orange. Like Amontillado sherry finishes.
Good amount of sweets, dry, and buttery. Like the amount of spice here too.
Finish: Croissant, sea salt, pear, white raspberry, oak, fresh sourdough, ginger
Wow. I’ve never had something buttery and yeast-y and have them combine into a really great croissant flavour. This is the closest thing I’ve come to a bread bomb since I fought in the Pumpernickel wars.
The acidity on the edge of this one is nice.
Conclusion: This is pretty tasty. Nothing mind blowing, but unique in that “good” way rather than “crazy” way or a “Oh. Yeah, I remember that one” way. You know, like that one guy at the party who eats an entire pizza and then belches the Ukrainian national anthem. Sure, you remember him, but he’s not going to be a godfather to your kid.
This isn’t like that. It brings up good conversation, is nice, and would help you move. Unique, interesting notes. If you’re not a Manhattan fan (bias: I am), it may not be for you. There’s quite a bit orange here too. I’m pretty sensitive to orange, however it wasn’t too much for me. It may be for you.
High West Double Rye! /r/bourbon ex-Campfire cask
Colour: 7.5YR 7/8
Nose: Smoked caramel, cinnamon, plum, cream, almond, pear, anise
Big blast of smoked caramel. And if you haven’t ever smoked caramel, you sir/madam/attack helicopter, are missing out.
Beyond that the cream and spice of the ryes shine more on this one.
Taste: Cinnamon, cloves, caramel, salty, praline, orange
More spice. Lots and lots of spice. Big Autumn flavours, with the orange from the rye.
It stops there. Some nuttiness, but there’s just a lot of spice. And I’m not really surprised. The main spirit is rye, the cask had rye (in addition to other spirits) in it, and also had a spirit that has spices to it (peated Scotch).
So… yeah, it’s a lot of spice.
Finish: Anise, lots of raisin, brown sugar, cloves, salty, pear
I was going to complain about the amount of spice again, but.. wow, that’s a lot of raisin. A John Oliver disturbing amount of raisins. A few vineyards worth.
All I’m saying is that the California raisins are dead and were used in this whisky. And I drank their blood.
Conclusion: So this starts out with an interesting smokey, caramel flavour, and then kinda goes down to a decent, nice flavour. Nice, not great. Like… good sex, but you’re not marrying him unless he says you can bang other people.
The finish kinda killed this one to me. The sheer amount of raisins is all I can remember. There’s a lot of spice on top of spice here. It’s a spice bomb, like the one that took out my arm in the bread wars when we took Cinnamon-Raisin ridge.
It’s tasty, but I have to dock points for the unbalanced nature.
Also I wasn’t a big fan of Campfire. Maybe I should have said that bias first. Shit.
High West Double Rye! Binny’s ex-Bourbon
Colour: 7.5YR 7/10
Nose: Vanilla, cinnamon, solvent, scrambled eggs, oak, brown sugar, apple, persimmon
So.. wow, alright. There’s a lot going on here. Let’s break this down by positive and negatives, otherwise you’re going to wonder about my life.
The ex-Bourbon elements give us oak, brown sugar, and vanilla. Paired with parts of the rye, it leads to a cool Cinnamon bun type experience.
Not like having a sex with one. Mind out of the gutter.
On the other hand there’s this solvent, floral, and scrambled eggs smell that my brain is not enjoying. Odd, off notes that are pretty rough. One of those notes, I’d look the other way. All three? Where am I?
Taste: Caramel, black pepper, vanilla, espresso, cinnamon
So this is more normal as far as a bourbon would be. BUT IT’S A RYE! OH MY GOODNESS AND OR GRACIOUS!
Seriously though, the spicy nature and the creaminess mixes with a lot of the vanilla notes and caramels. Or rather, it tastes like going down on a barrista from Starbucks after a long day.
Kinda spicy still. Little hot.
Finish: Vanilla, custard, nutmeg, cola, heat, coconut
And more heat. Still more hear. The eggy/vanilla from the cask is here, but it’s also some of the cola.
Conclusion: This is like Frankenstein’s monster if he ran out of human parts half way through and started using gorilla parts. And we all have a basic understanding on biology to know that the creature would kinda die eventually.
And that’s kinda what happens. This was in the ex-Bourbon cask for 20 months, and it really, really shows. The bourbon has taken over, the spice is just hanging out, and there’s random rough parts that mess with the nose. A good try, but not what I liked.
Bourbon review #144-146, Utah review #10-12, Whiskey Network review #801-803