Rocky Mountain Rye 16, Batch 15

High West, Rocky Mountain Rye, Batch 15
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!

2 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain Rye 16, Batch 15

  1. I would guess that High West made a batch to be bottled on multiple occasions so each one got its own number, although I never fully understood their numbering system! Early on their facility wasn’t all that big but they now have a beautiful and much more spacious distillery just outside Park City which is well worth a visit! American made rye is more typically a “barely rye” of 51% rye or close to that. Rittenhouse, Sazerac, Beam, Wild Turkey are all likely in this range. The exception being the fairly ubiquitous rye from what used to be LDI (and is now known as MGP or Midwest Grain Products, although this rye may well have been made when it was still owned by Seagram’s). The MGP rye is 95% rye and 5% barley and was likely intended as a flavoring component in blends of whiskey (Seagram’s specialty back in the day it would seem. Rye from Canada like Whistlepig is often a 100% rye and also likely was intended at one point as a flavoring component in Canadian whiskey.

    The Barton 80% rye may have been an American whiskey mashbill used more often in the past but it is not one you see very often today which makes it kind of fun. It has also been used a lot in the High West Rendezvous rye I believe.

    The proportions in the blend have always been the one thing High West doesn’t disclose. But I can’t imagine there is much of the lovely 80% Barton rye left at this point!

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