I have previously reviewed Batch 2 of High West’s Rocky Mountain Rye, which was a 21 yo. (I’m assuming that the batch number here refers to the “Rocky Mountain Rye” part generally and doesn’t mean that there have been 14 previous releases of a 16 yo Rocky Mountain Rye—as always, my knowledge of American whiskey is profound.) That one was a “barely legal” rye with 53% rye in the mash bill. This one, a blend of two ryes, is at the other end of the continuum: as per the distillery’s website*, one of the components was from a 95% rye mash bill from LDI and the other was from a 80% mash bill from Barton. Of note is that the 95% mash bill did not contain any corn (I’m not sure if this is common with ryes). (It’s not clear what the proportions of the two components are in the blend.) Also of note, is how transparent High West are about where they’ve sourced their whiskies from. More American distilleries/brands should follow their lead.
*I’m not sure if the content on that page will change with the next release of a 16 yo Rocky Mountain Rye.
High West, Rocky Mountain Rye, 16 (46%; Batch 15; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: The expected pine and mint and cold black tea on the nose but also sweeter, richer notes: caramel, plum, cinnamon. With more time some oak emerges but it’s far from being dominant or tannic as it can be in American whiskies of this age. A bit of dried orange peel too now. With a few drops of water the sharper notes are emphasized.
Palate: Rather mellow and leading with the softer, sweeter notes rather than the sharper rye notes that led on the nose. On the second sip there’s more of the cinnamon, more of the oak but this is very drinkable indeed; the texture is just a bit thin (but that might have to do with how long the bottle had been open when the sample was poured). With more time the oak is more present but never unwelcome; the late-arriving orange peel from the nose shows up too. Water makes it a little too sharp for my liking here too.
Finish: Medium. More bite here, both from the more herbal notes and from the oak. Gets longer with time with cool notes of cinnamon and clove the last to fade.
Comments: Very well balanced, very drinkable. It’s not going to knock your socks off, but they don’t all have to. I’d hold the water and I’d recommend trying it with some dark chocolate.
Rating: 87 points
Thanks to Sku for the sample!