If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably gotten a sense of some of the things I love. Among the many are 1) Fun, unique whiskies, 2) MGP Ryes, and 3) Product transparency. Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing a whiskey that hits all three of these: High West Bourye.
As a limited release, previous iterations have sold out quite quickly, depriving me of the chance to try them. So when I heard that a new batch was about to be released, I was thrilled for the opportunity to give it a try.
If you’re not familiar, Bourye is a blend of straight bourbon and straight rye (hence “Bou” + “Rye”) – something that’s pretty darn unusual. The previous release was a blend of MGP and Barton ryes as well as Four Roses bourbon. For this new release, however, High West stuck with all MGP juice. It’s a blend of:
- 9-year-old, high-rye straight bourbon (75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley)
- 13-year old straight rye (The classic MGP 95% rye mashbill)
- 17-year-old straight rye (once again, 95% rye)
These last two components are pretty noteworthy – older rye whisky has gotten crazy expensive, with prices for some shooting into triple digits. Although Bourye still commands a relatively hefty MSRP of about $80, High West could have priced it substantially higher and it would have still sold. I appreciate that they refrained from gouging!
Another thing I appreciate is their transparency with regard to the component whiskies and their respective ages. How did I get the information listed above? Intense Internet detective work? Industry insider connections? Black magic? Nope – I just went to the High West website! Heck, the label even tells you to do so! (Are you listening, SWA?)
Of course, the most important part of any whisky is the experience of actually drinking it. Here, I’m thrilled to say that Bourye lives up to the hype. It’s a fascinating blend of sweet and spicy, with a ridiculous amount going on. I’ve spent some time sampling this one and trying to nail down my tasting notes, and every time I nose or sip it, I get some new note. I definitely don’t see this whiskey ever getting boring!
Nose: This rye is immediately aromatic, with plenty of sweetness and lots of spice. I get potent whiffs of gingerbread, molasses, and clove, as well as some nutmeg and cinnamon and a bit of leather (a note I often get on older whiskies). There’s a bit of the characteristic dill and caraway aroma that I usually get in MGP ryes, but it lurks in the background, underneath the sweeter spices.
After leaving it to open up in the glass for five or ten minutes, the caraway and dill become more notable, although they never overtake the spices. I also start to get a little red apple and a hint of bubblegum. That last note caught me off guard a bit, but although I wasn’t expecting it, I found it to be quite enjoyable!
With a drop of water, the spices soften a bit and are joined by some gentle toasted oak, vanilla, and honey, as well as a little dark caramelized sugar.
Taste: This is a full-bodied and viscous whiskey! It coats my tongue like a rich syrup, but a bit of alcohol prickle and mildly astringent oak cut through before it can get cloying. This syrupy arrival delivers notes of red apple coated in caramel, which is quickly joined by the gingerbread I got on the nose, filling my mouth with an intense, sweet, spiciness. Notes of ginger, cinnamon, and clove fill my mouth, coupled with a little vanilla and a tiny bit of wood smoke. I also get a bit of that characteristic caraway and dill, but it’s subdued, lingering in the background behind the sweet spice. The finish is extremely long, but despite the sweet arrival, it wraps up dry, with a slight saltiness, a bit of white pepper, and clove.
With a drop of water, the alcohol subsides, making this very easy to sip with almost no burn. It’s way too easy to drink (I had to refill my glass to finish these tasting notes – it just kind of disappeared…) It tastes “older,” if that makes sense. I get more toasted oak, some more wood smoke, and a bit of molasses. The finish gets even longer, with ginger, molasses, and cinnamon mingling with the aforementioned salt, white pepper, and clove.
This is a crazy complex, rich dram that manages to be both full-bodied and flavorful, while still somehow being gentle (especially with a drop of water). If you can track down a bottle, it’s definitely worth trying!
My cat approves, too – or maybe he just wants to chase the jackelope.
Questions of the Day: Have you tried Bourye? What’s your favorite High West whiskey?
Disclosure: High West sent me this bottle to review. However, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.