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High West Double Rye Single Barrel

One-Off Opportunity, Barrel # 961

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@VictorReview by @Victor

8th Oct 2015


High West Double Rye Single Barrel
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

All single barrel/single cask whiskies present opportunities unique to the barrel at hand. Sometimes, as in the case of this reviewed bottle, a batch whisk(e)y is available in a special single barrel, barrel strength, release. High West Double Rye is a vatting of two rye whiskeys normally released as a multi-barrel batch whiskey which is bottled at 46% ABV. The reviewed bottle # 31 from Barrel # 961 was bottled for Shawan Liquors in the Baltimore, Maryland area. The 2 yo and 16 yo vatted rye whiskeys were 'finished' for 2.5 years in a bourbon barrel, and bottled at 52.6% ABV. The reviewed bottle has been open for 25 days

Nose: quite high-pitched, dark fruity, sweet, and rye spicey, all at the same time. Crystallized sugar. A beautiful nose. Score: 23.5/25 points

Taste: translates well to the mouth. Elegant. Score: 23/25 points

Finish: finishes strongly and well. A syrupy body dries and becomes astringent. All of the flavours hold up, with a bit of sourness creeping in late. Score: 21.5/25 points

Balance: keeps a good strong balance throughout the sequential tasting steps. Score: 22/25 points

Total sequential score: 90/100 points

Strength: lots of flavour in all components. Score: 23/25 points

Quality: very nice quality of flavours all around. Score: 23/25 points

Variety: plenty of variety. Score: 22/25 points

Harmony: very good harmony of flavours. Score: 22/25 points

Total non-sequential score: 90/100 points

Comment: my sister bought 2 bottles from this private barrel. After I tasted it I begged 1 of the 2 bottles from her. She, being a very good big sister, obliged my request. At 52.6% ABV this is probably at original barrel strength, which I like. This is one of the highest pitched and most elegant rye whiskeys I have consumed. All that it would take to make this a 95 point whiskey would be stronger complement of bass register fruit and wood pitches

The 'moral of the story': private barrels at barrel strength are frequently extremely desirable. I reviewed a batch of standard High West Double Rye 46% ABV which started at maybe 83 points and became an 89 point whiskey with long air exposure. This bottle rates 90 points from the very beginning. Interestingly, this bottle/barrel has strong similarities to the Pikesville 55% ABV Rye which I recently reviewed. Both are high-pitched, very sweet, very spicey, and worth 90 points from me

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Victor commented

Unusual evolution for this bottle. After 9 months the nose is still great, while the palate has lowered pitch noticeably, lessening the appeal of the palate somewhat. At this point this is about an 88 point whiskey for me.

With US straight ryes, usually air-time brings out dark fruits and often raises the pitch slightly.

In this case, after 9 months bottle open, the palatal pitch is lowered and the fruit influence remains about the same or slightly lesser. Those are observations without water added. Interestingly, water added leads to a much higher pitched palate, even after the bottle has been opened for 9 months. I like the palate now slightly more with water added, but the nose is still better without water. At this point I wish I had made some water added comments to the original review.

Do I have an hypothesis as to why this particular bottle/barrel should deviate somewhat from the typical US rye air-exposure pattern? No.

8 years ago 0