High West

High West Bourye (2017) Whiskey Review

The 2017 release of Bourye features a new label, showcasing the brand’s jackalope mascot.


The jackalope is back!

High West Distillery has just released their 2017 batch of Bourye, a blend of bourbon and rye whiskey.  Due to the whiskies used being sourced, Bourye changes a bit from year to year.  This year’s release uses whiskies aged 10 to 14 years, distilled at MGP in Indiana.  While the specific ages of the whiskies or ratios used aren’t being disclosed, their mash bills have.  The sourced bourbons carry a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.  The rye whiskies are made with MGP’s very familiar mash bill:  95% rye and 5% malted barley. SRP is $80.

I really enjoyed last year’s Bourye release.  How does this one compare?  Overall, a touch sweeter than last year’s batch.

The nose carries hints of slightly burnt brown sugar, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, rye spice and light aromatic herbs and ripe red fruits.  On the palate, caramel sweetness quickly gives way to cinnamon and other baking spices.  The longer you hold the whiskey in your mouth, the more spices develop.  Ginger.  Allspice.  Cloves.  Wonderful!  Complementing that spicy character is a rich vanilla cream topped with red fruits.  A touch of the MGP dill note I’m sensitive to briefly shows.  The finish is long, warm and inviting, leaving behind rye spice and a touch of dark caramel.

I love the interplay between the spicy and sweet notes that are at play here.  It goes to show what can happen when skilled blenders get their hands on some great whiskies.  Another wonderful release from High West!  Highly recommended!  9/10

Thanks to High West for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Midwinter Night’s Dram Act 4 Rye Whisky Review

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Autumn means one thing for High West: the release of their annual A Midwinter Nights Dram.  Joy!

A Midwinter Nights Dram is basically High West’s Rendezvous Rye (a blend of 6-year-old rye whisky from MGP and 16-year-old rye whisky from Barton) that’s finished in French oak and port casks.  In essence, the rye whisky should deliver big spicy notes while the port barrel finish adds a nice fruitiness.  It’s bottled at 98.6 proof and runs close to $80.

Compared to last year’s release, this Act 4, Scene 5 edition features slightly more influence from the port casks.  Upfront on the nose is that familiar dill note, which most likely comes from the MGP-distilled rye whiskey.  There’s also dark toffee, mulled wine, cinnamon bark & clove, and some vanilla.  Taste-wise, MWND Act 4 plays a nice balance of sweet and spicy, with hints of cinnamon,  caramel, rye spice, red wine, plums and vanilla cream.  The finish is long and leaves behind a spiced fruit note.

Fantastic stuff.  If you’re already a fan of MWND, Act 4 is another great batch full of those familiar fruity and spicy notes.  If you’ve never tried this whiskey, you’re in for a treat.  Though it’s a limited release, it’s not AS hard to find as other fall favorites.  Pick up a bottle if you see it on a shelf, pour a glass and enjoy.  Recommended!

Thanks to High West for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Constellation Brands, Inc. Buys High West Distillery

The news came out last night – High West Distillery was picked up by Constellation Brands, Inc.  It was rumored for several days that the Utah distillery was up for sale, with other companies placing bids.  The Wall Street Journal reported the winning bid came from Constellation Brands for a staggering $160 million.  Constellation Brands says it plans to keep all High West employees on as they continue business as usual.

Constellation Brands previously owned the Barton Distillery, but sold that off to Sazerac in 2009.

Here’s the full press release:

VICTOR, N.Y., Oct. 5, 2016 — Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B), a leading beverage alcohol company, today announced an agreement to purchase Utah-based High West Distillery. The acquisition includes all of High West’s operations and its portfolio of distinctive, award-winning and high-end American straight whiskeys. With High West, which has experienced double-digit volume growth year over year for the past three years, Constellation Brands enters the dynamic and profitable high-end craft whiskey segment. The transaction is expected to close by the end of October.

David Perkins and his wife, Jane, founded High West Distillery in 2004 with a vision to make delicious whiskey that celebrates the history and heritage of America’s Old West. High West’s proprietary blend of old and young whiskeys has received positive reviews from both industry experts and consumers. With a taste of the Old West and labels to match, consumers experience stories of cowboys, campfires, prairies and Utah history in every bottle. High West is the first legal distillery in the state of Utah since 1870. As part of the agreement, High West’s employees will join the Constellation Brands family to ensure continuity in the distinctive styles of the whiskeys.

“High West’s whiskeys are high-end, distinctive and delicious – perfect for today’s knowledgeable consumer who enjoys artfully crafted whiskeys,” said Bill Newlands, president, wine and spirits division, Constellation Brands. “With the addition of High West, Constellation Brands bolsters its position in the dynamic and growing craft spirits category. We look forward to welcoming this creative and talented team to Constellation Brands as we work together to drive growth for High West and build our premium spirits portfolio with brands that consumers love.”

“Our award-winning whiskeys are artfully blended to create unique and complex flavors inspired by the Old West,” said John Esposito, chief executive officer, High West. “We craft innovative whiskey blends that reflect our sense of adventure and pioneering spirit. When it came to the next step for High West, we wanted to work with the right partner that will help us grow further while maintaining our culture and core values. With the strength of the Constellation Brands team, we will be able to reach more consumers and continue our track record of innovation.”

The High West portfolio sells approximately 70,000 cases annually. The portfolio includes four core High West Whiskey products: American Prairie Bourbon, Double Rye!, Rendezvous Rye and Campfire, the only blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys on the market. In addition, High West Distillery produces several limited edition whiskeys.