High West Distillery

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 at 11:17 PM

High West Distillery 
At our last meeting, LAWS was treated to a massive tasting by David Perkins from High West. David founded High West in 2007 in Park City, Utah, and he's since quickly become known as one of the leading lights of the new breed of whiskey producers. Specializing in rye whiskey, High West sources and vats aged ryes from Kentucky and Indiana, in addition to distilling and ageing their own whiskey. 
We tasted a number of High West's sourced whiskeys including Rendezvous Rye, Double Rye, the 21 year old rye and the very limited release 12 year old rye. Their award winning Bourye, a blend of straight bourbon and rye, is not being made anymore (the sourced whiskeys are all gone) so David used us as willing guinea pigs to test out two "Son of Bourye" prototypes. The group was about evenly split on which they liked best -- sorry to High West to be no help at all with that one.

We also tasted a lot of David's own distillate as he led us through a super-advanced masterclass on distilling. Sampling heads and tails may have been a bit of a shock to our taste buds, but it provided a huge insight into the job the distiller does in separating out the hearts. David hasn't released any aged versions of his own distillate yet, but he gave us a taste of his aged oat, malt and rye whiskeys to see how they were progressing in the barrel -- he's not releasing them any time soon, but it's fair to say so far, so good! We then explored the role of yeast, tasting four Pennsylvania-style ryes that were the same mashbill except for the use of different yeasts.

After all that work, David treated us to a comparison of his barrel-aged Manhattan cocktail, 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan (the name refers to Utah's final vote to repeal prohibition) and a pre-barreled version.  Even in this group of whiskey purists who scoff at putting anything in their whiskey other than a few drops of water, the barreled Manhattan got pretty high marks. No wonder it doesn't stay on shelves for very long.
Thanks to David and High West for what may have been the most academic yet adventurous LAWS meeting in history. All that learnin' sure was fun!
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