Reviewed by Bob Montgomery
I’ve started to become more selective when it comes to rye. The first few ryes I tasted were new and different enough that just being a rye gave them a certain amount of good will. If High West had been the first rye I tried, I might have felt a little happier with it.
I had high hopes for High West. To quote the label, “Marriage of two straight rye whiskies that combines the feisty properties of a high rye 2-year-old and the saddle smooth richness of a 16-year-old.” Sounds wonderful, right?
Unfortunately, ideas that seem wonderful in prospect often fail of that promise in retrospect. So it is with High West Double Rye. This whiskey, despite its marketing-driven prose, seems more like a bourbon (or corn-based) spirit than a rye. It has a nose and flavor of vanilla and caramel, rather than the spice and subtle fire of a good rye.
It quickly recedes to the background in a Manhattan, leaving the stage far too early for a command performance. Perhaps bourbon drinkers will find High West to be a way to ease into drinking rye. For my part, it’s always been easier to jump into the deep end than to tip-toe gradually from the shallow.
High West isn’t a bad whisky, and shouldn’t be spurned if the occasion presents itself. But there are better bottles to be had, and better experiences to be savored.
Quality Grade: B
Value Grade: B
Final Grade: B