Recent High West Whiskey Offerings Worth Tracking Down

americanprairieUtah’s High West distillery, despite the recent release of its first in-house aged whiskey Valley Tan, continues to get most of its juice via out-sourcing. It does a darn good job working with what it has though through artful blending to create some highly sought after whiskies. Two new recent bottlings highlight this trend, including the return of its super-premium Bourye and the second edition of its charity-focused American Prairie Bourbon.

First, the new American Prairie Bourbon, which is just now coming onto the market. It is described by High West as a “blend of 2, 6 and 13-year-old straight bourbons, one more bourbon than the previous compilation.” The bottling, which features on the label a pronghorn antelope painted by Montana artist Diane Whitehead, is named after

an effort to assemble the largest wildlife reserve in the lower 48 states. The American Prairie Reserve is a 5,000-square-mile preserve on the Great Plains of northeastern Montana, which will ultimately measure one-and-a-half times larger than Yellowstone National Park. High West donates 10 percent of the profit from American Prairie Bourbon toward the project.

I bolded the last sentence of the pull quote because I wanted to highlight this part of this bourbon’s purpose. [Steps up on soapbox] The loss of wildlife habitat, especially in American prairie terrains, is very unfortunate, as with that loss so as well do decline populations of associated animals, such as the Greater Sage Grouse, a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection, which was on the front of the first bourbon bottling. Anything which can be done to reverse this is a solid idea in my opinion. [steps off soapbox]

There was no mention of price for this release, but the previous release had an average retail price of around $43 at the time of this post. Tasting notes for the new offering from High West indicate “a well-balanced marriage of honey nougat, candy corns, sweet corn bread biscuits, Juicy Fruit gum and caramel apples with a dose of cinnamon spice and a long, sweet finish.”

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bouryeAs for Bourye, it is a sophisticated sipping whiskey blending of “a 9-year-old straight bourbon with 10 and 16-year-old straight rye whiskeys.” It is among the most sought after of High West’s offerings, and the re-release of it has been set at $80.

The distillery, in detailing the specifics of this blended expression’s sourced whiskey origins, was quite forthcoming in letting the cat out of the bag:

  •  9-year-old straight bourbon – mash bill: 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley malt – source: MGP/LDI/Seagrams Indiana
  • 10-year-old straight rye whiskey- 95% rye, 5% barley malt – source: MGP/LDI/Seagrams Indiana
  • 16-year-old straight rye whiskey – 95% rye, 5% barley malt – source: MGP/LDI/Seagrams Indiana
  • 16-year-old straight rye whiskey – mash bill: 80% rye, 10% corn, 10% malt – source: Barton Distillery, Bardstown KY

Now, with such a mix, one might expect an interesting taste profile. And, indeed, it does have that apparently. “Its nose is rich caramel and vanilla and the taste is thick vanilla, sweet honey nougat, with even more caramel and candied fruits,” said High West proprietor David Perkins in a statement. “The finish is something to behold – long, sweet, and complex.”

Bourye was kicked out to market earlier this year, about the same time as the Valley Tan 2-year Utah oat whiskey, and there are still some bottles out there at retail to be had, at least for now (not so much with Valley Tan).

The name Bourye, for the curious, is a combination of “Bou” for bourbon and “rye.” The creature on the label is the mythical jackalope, which is a sort of cross between “a jack rabbit and an antelope with horns.” I’ll leave it to you to understand how High West tied this animal to the whiskey, but I will say it is a fun little story to read.

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...