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High West Campfire

Average score from 8 reviews and 11 ratings 86

High West Campfire

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On August 15, 2020, a small group of us had a Zoom Tasting of 4 mystery samples. We had received them from @Fiddich1980 and tried them earlier, and then we went through them together. 2 of the 4 samples were whiskies and this is the second of two reviews from that set.

While Highwest refuses to divulge the exact contents of this whisky, we know that it is a blend of bourbon, rye and a blended malt scotch. Rumours abound that this is Islay malt.

This expression is reviewed in a glencairn, in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

First tasting Aug. 13, 2020

Mild nose, Sweet. Vegetal in background, but this dissipates with time.cinnamon, something savoury. Sweet, spicy and hot on first sip. Pepper. sour in development. Grape-y Finish menthol, pepper. Estimated ABV 43 %.. With water smother arrival, sweet and grapi-ness. Guess - this could be a brandy (or a blend).

Nose: 21/25

Fruity, sweet, syrupy. In the background I get some baking spices. Sweet red apples. But also something sour, like gooseberries maybe? Many “high pitched” notes. Pleasant nose. Adding water brings forward the fruitiness and makes it appear richer. (21.5/25)

Taste: 20/25

The entry is much drier than the nose suggests. I get a lot of oak. Some vanilla. Sweet and sour in the development. Maybe a hint of apple. Not too complex. A bit “rough” - an observation, not a judgement. Water thins the mouthfeel a little and sweetens the arrival. The development becomes a little more fruity, and the vanilla fades a little. (21/25)

Finish: 20/25

Lots of pepper, slightly astringent. Water shortens the finish and makes it a little more sour, almost lemon or lime. Maybe a hint of peat. (20.5/25)

Balance: 20/25

Not very complex. The nose and the palate are very different. The development carries this one. Definitely balances better with a little water. (21/25)

Score: Neat - 81/100 With Water: 84/100

I liked this one a lot more tonight than I did when I tried it the first time and at our zoom tasting. I’m sure I would have rated it 2-3 points lower then. After hearing what it was, I would have expected to smell or taste some peat, but if it’s there, it was well-hidden from me.

I would definitely accept a glass of this if offered, but notwithstanding my lack of storage space, I probably would not run out to buy this.

Thanks again @Fiddich1980!


This Campfire from High West is a bit of an oddball. It is a blend of bourbon and rye and peated whisky from Scotland. Legend has it that David Perkins, the man behind High West, got pancakes with syrup for breakfast while visiting Islay. The syrup was created with Bruichladdich and he was so taken with it, that he wanted Islay whisky in his Campfire. I guess we know which one it is.

The nose starts somewhat closed, but with some hand warmth, it proves to be quite special. On the one hand, I get the typical bourbon traits in the shape of rye and caramel, in this case upholstered with some maple syrup, on the other hand it has a special smoky side – must be the Islay component – that tries to shine through, but seems a bit unsuccessful in doing so. I also get some soft yellow fruit. Think mirabelles and peach. There is a big floral note as well. Think jasmin and the sap of pine cones. A slice of dark bread. Interesting is the least one can say here.

It is quite oily on the palate, sweet on honey and rum raisins and some toffee, but the rye becomes very loud, giving it a huge spiciness. Together with the peat, that is now evolving towards a nice smokiness, it offers quite a special taste experience. Some candied oranges shine through, together with some blueberries.

The finish is very long and smoky to end in raisin sweetness.

Well, this was a strange experience, but not an unpleasant one. Quite special, is it not, this Islay bourbon, so to speak? Nice work from the boys in Utah!


This blend from High West Distillery is a mix of straight rye, bourbon and a peated blended scotch. For lovers of all types of whisk(e)y, this is as interesting as it sounds.

Let's get to it...

Nose: Mostly bourbon on the nose--bourbon of the woodier variety. Booker's perhaps? Some sharp grain alcohol notes and a bit of woodshop dust. As it warms in the hand there are some faint whiffs of cocoa and honey amidst the wood spice. And occasionally... just occassionally... a very distant whiff of sweet peat smoke.

Taste: Incredible development! Three very distinct stages. Sweet bourbon on arrival... honey... vanilla, oak. Oak develops into distinct rye spice... cinnamon, chillies... with some geranium and unripe apple. Feisty rye notes quickly disipate into...

Finish: Mellow woodspice. A haze of peat smoke is released and drifts off, leaving you with toasted oak, and roasted vanilla beans.

While it is very tasty... There's nothing here that is going to knock the socks off an experienced whisky drinker. By that mean, the flavours are fairly typical. And the nose is a bit underwhelming. What makes this whisky so good is the fact that High West has executed on blending these whiskies in a way that balances out so well. And the distinct stages in which each spirit presents itself are a lot of fun. A bit of a novelty whiskey, but I highly recommend it for anyone keen on experimentation. This one's a success!


Gift sample.

I vaguely remembered hearing something about this prior to tasting it, but I decided to just dive in without hitting the Googles. I went back to the Google in the middle of the tasting session to confirm my suspicions.

Nose: Lots of dusty sandalwood (fine quality). You really can get a bourbony, rye, and peat note. [This is when I actually got less lazy, did some research, and discovered that it was a combination of bourbon, rye, and peated whisky.] Nothing overwhelms the other points, it's all very well-balanced. Sweet corn followed by rye spice and sweetness, though the smokiness seems more like a lit cigar than a peat bog. Engaging. Maybe some mint, too.

Palate: A really lovely mix. Something different int every sip, which keeps you sipping more and more. The beauty of this is that the peat's present, and helps carry the other flavors, but light enough that it doesn't overwhelm- the usual challenge with such a mix. Sweet, honey, floral, smoky, you name it. I'm really digging it.

Finish: Just the slightest trace of smoke, and the rye is a bit more dominant, but it's really an easy and good dram. Easy to just keep having more and more


While researching Rye Whiskeys for the liquor store where I work, I came across this little beauty from Utah. We got it in and I took a bottle home. Jumping forward a bit, enjoy the nose for a few minutes while this guy breathes. High West has made a wonderful new whiskey from Rye, Bourbon, and Scotch. They say the proportions are top secret. My bet is that it is primarily Rye, then Scotch, and a pinch of bourbon. The color is a deep reddish gold. You might think it was a nice port. The nose is interesting. Only the slightest alcohol tickle. At first I get the grassy Rye and red apple jumps out at me. Shortly later the peat really sticks it's head through. Then comes the caramel and vanilla. A few more minutes go by and something very sweet happens, brown sugar and marshmallows. The palate seems very balanced I keep thinking to myself, "Peat,Rye,Peat,Rye". Good body. Hefty. very floral and I'm getting creamed corn. The finish is medium and starts out like wood smoke and transitions to sweet vanilla and carrot juice. A few more seconds go by and the peat reintroduces itself and ends up on the dry side. Very satisfying. It's a little above my everyday price (about $45-50 US) but It's not going to last long. This is not something to introduce a newcomer to due to the confusing blend but I think everyone should try it.


For reference, this is for Batch No. 6, Bottle Bo. 1949, and I paid about $40.00 for this bottle.

Had the pleasure of tasting through the whole High West lineup with a distillery rep at Winebow's NYC tasting in September 2012. Out of the whole line, I chose to purchase the Campfire and the 36th Vote for personal use (and pretty much the whole line for our store).

This whiskey embodies innovation - a blend of bourbon, rye, and (the real kicker) a peaked scotch whisky. High West won't disclose the proportions of the three, and for the life of me, I could not convince the High West rep to tell me who the scotch producer was (they are contractually obligated to keep that to themselves). Whatever it is, IT WORKS!

The nose nose is full of fruity honey, mango, and raspberry notes on top of a bed of peat smoke and pepper. Things get spicy on the palate, where the rye really shines. The peated scotch takes the finale, and leaves you wondering what the hell kind of whisk(e)y you just experienced.

I love this stuff, and can't wait to see what High West comes up with next - the whole lineup is impressive!

@ voidwp2556, I've tried to blend this with not much luck, but I'm no master blender. I'll have to get a bottle to see how it is when done right. It sounds like a good idea, I don't it easy to pull off though.

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