High West Bourye, 2015 Release

High West, Bourye, 2015 Release
The first release of High West’s Bourye was in 2010. As Sku tells us, this was not the first blend of bourbon and rye (hence the name—everybody at the company must have been very tired that day) but it was the first premium blend of bourbon and rye. It was very well received (I wasn’t drinking much American whiskey then myself). I’m not sure how many more releases there have been of it since. In his review of a 2016 batch Sku refers to “the return of Bourye”, but this sample is from a 2015 release. If anyone knows more about this please chime in below. And please chime in as well if you know what exactly the 2015 release is a blend of. [Update: see the comments.]

I’ve not had very many of High West’s releases and while I’ve liked all I’ve tried a fair bit, I’m yet to have one that I’ve truly been blown away by (i.e nothing has made it to 90 points in my system). But I do appreciate that, unlike so many new American distilleries they don’t just release re-labelled sourced whiskey with only a tedious story tacked on to it. Anyway, let’s see what this is like. 

High West Bourye (46%; 2015 release; batch 15B11; from a purchased sample)

Nose: A mix of sweet toffee and floral, herbal, spicy rye notes (clove, pine, dill). On the second sniff there’s some dusty oak and caramel corn—the bourbon seems to be trumping the rye. With more time it picks up some intensity and now the rye notes are holding their own; some orange peel too now. Softer with water with some vanilla showing up as well.

Palate: My first impression here is that the mouthfeel is too thin. All the stuff from the nose is here but the whole doesn’t pack much of a punch. More rye-forward here, more like a high rye bourbon (which makes sense, I guess). On the second sip there’s sour wood and cinnamon. Not much development here with time, maybe a little spicier. Water doesn’t do it any favours, thinning out the texture even more and diluting the flavours.

Finish: Medium. Spicy and increasingly mentholated and drying as it goes. As on the palate with water.

Comments: I’m not sure how long this bottle had been open before I got my sample from it but as it is this is a little lacking in oomph on the palate; the nose, however, is quite lovely. On the whole, it’s pleasant and drinkable but nothing very far out of the ordinary.

Rating: 85 points.

5 thoughts on “High West Bourye, 2015 Release

  1. On Twitter I was pointed to this Drinkhacker post from last year which confirms that 2015 is when the Bourye returned and details its composition:

    Sourced from multiple distilleries, all whiskeys are at least 9 years old. These include a 9 year old bourbon (21% rye, 4% barley) from Indiana; a 10 year old rye (5% barley) from MGP; a 16 year old rye (5% barley) from MGP; and another 16 year old rye (10% corn, 10% barley) from Barton Distillery. Proportions are not disclosed.

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  2. One need not necessarily go to another blog post to find details about High West whiskey as High West is about as transparent as any distiller or producer out there. One of the few times you can say that! Current Bourye information can be found here:

    http://www.highwest.com/spirits/bourye/

    The original Bourye was somewhat different as it used Four Roses bourbon (although Four Roses and MGP share some DNA of sorts as they are both former Seagram’s distilleries) and a different Barton rye. My recollection of the original Bourye is as follows:

    10-year Four Roses bourbon with the lower rye “E” mashbill (75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley). Which of the five specific yeast(s) used wasn’t indicated.
    12-year rye from MGP (which was still known as LDI at the time) and was the standard 95% rye, 5% malted barley.
    16-year rye rom Barton Distillery (53% rye, 37% corn, and 10% malt).

    So probably a little less corn component and more rye in the newer one than the original. When I tried them both last year in a side by side blind tasting I expected to prefer the original but to my surprise it was the newer formulation that I preferred (although both are excellent!). Blind tasting has a way of doing that to you!

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  3. Well, I wasn’t sure, given Sku’s labeling what he reviewed as the 2016 release if that information was the same for this one. Now it appears that what Sku reviewed was also actually the 2015 release.

    And man, High West’s site sometimes takes a really long time to load!

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  4. Actually, I’m being told on Twitter right now that the first batch of the re-release of Bourye was in late 2014/2015—therefore presumably the one my sample came from— and was made differently than the current batch from February 2016. It’s the composition of this later batch that is now on their website: 2 MGP ryes, 1 MGP bourbon. But the 2014/15 batch was 2 MGP ryes, 1 MGP bourbon plus 1 Barton rye. So, you can’t always go by the website as it only lists the current batch.

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  5. Yes, it would be nice of the website gave notes on each of the previous batches as well as the current one. A bit sad to hear that the Barton ryes that High West sourced and bottled a few years ago is finally starting to run out. That was inevitable I suppose but I am glad that High West gave us a chance to try them!

    I am pretty sure the original 16yo Rocky Mountain Rye was that same 80/10/10 Barton rye you noted being used in the 2015 batch of Bourye. Delightful stuff and a bottle I will savor as long as I can!

    The newer release of the 16yo Rocky Mountain Rye is that same 16yo Barton rye plus some 16yo MGP rye in unknown proportions but is still quite lovely if you can find it. It was apparently a relatively small distillery only release though so I feel lucky to have gotten a bottle and probably is long gone again by now. It surprised me again but the newer version of the 16yo rye was again my preference in a blind tasting by just a whisker.

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