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Crisp clean air, great films, all night parties and exhaustion: these are some of the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place every January in Park City, Utah. But one of the highlights for ME was, of course, enjoying lunch at High West Distillery...and doing a little whisky shopping...
High West is advertised not just as a distillery, but as a "ski-in gastropub" - it sits at the foot of a ski hill that goes right into Park City. I had a fantastic lunch there. They offer tours but I could not do one, as they cancel them during the festival, due to their volume of events, dinners and parties that fill up their time.
Their 21 year old rye can only be purchased at the distillery. This spirit was NOT distilled at High West, but was found in 75 barrels acquired by Master Distiller David Perkins, which were destined to be shipped to Canada for blending. This rye whisky was distilled at Barton in Kentucky with a mashbill of 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% malted barley. My bottle comes from Batch No. 10, bottle #850.
The colour is a light-to-medium gold. On the nose, sharp dark chocolate with rye spice; at the same time, very fruity with honeydew melon - an amazing combination. Extremely herbal as well, and very complex. Lots of vanilla, more so than you would think from used barrels, but then again, it has been there for 21 years. Beautiful.
On the palate - more herbs (especially mint), pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Starts to smooth out in the mouth, becoming creamy like milk chocolate, while still retaining bite with pencil shavings and charcoal. Absolutely spectacular.
The finish is very spicy and a little smoky. Very long and developing, but not overwhelming, with more chocolate and some dark fruits. Definitely seems younger than 21 years, and one of the best rye whiskies I've ever had, rivalling the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye. FYI Jim Murray scores this a massive 95. An incredible find for Perkins, and an incredible find for me! I'll be purchasing more next January...