Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
High West, Utah’s first distillery since the 1870’s, has proven itself as one of the premier whiskey blenders in the United States. Although High West opened an actively-distilling second location last year away from their original snowy outlook in Park City, Utah, their work as blenders has made them stand out thus far. With limited-edition releases popping up left and right—and selling out just as fast—High West has been doing pretty well for itself.
Not only is High West creating kitschily American, iconic whiskies, they are doing so with a level of transparency uncommon to many blenders. Much of their liquid comes from old school bulk behemoths such as MGP in Indiana and Barton in Kentucky. High West has a long list of whiskies, many of which are outstanding blended ryes, so in order to stand out in this crowd it’s pretty clear that High West Bourye (pronounced boo-rye) is doing something right. Even when I began writing this story, I checked my email to see a notification that Bourye was back in stock. By the time I had finished writing a few hours later, it was already sold out.
A blend of MGP-sourced nine-year-old straight bourbon, and 13- and 17-year-old straight rye whiskies, Bourye is some serious juice. Bourye is 46% ABV and is not chill-filtered.
Color: a dark orange-tinted caramel.
Nose: Incredibly light, making the initial ethanol veil hard to get past. After some time, the nose opens up a touch, but remains faint. Fresh cut grass, wood shavings, slight corn kernel, and slight coffee grounds. The nose doesn’t provide much of a build-up for the palate, remaining ghostly the entire tasting experience.
Palate: Subtle and balanced, although without losing interest or rounding out all of its edges. Coffee grounds, cacao nib, leather, and olive oil cake hit first, followed by a wave of orange oil, fresh corn, and fresh cut grass. Somewhat like the nose, the palate is smoothly balanced in a way where picking out individual notes was not the easiest task. In the finish there’s tangerine skin, nutmeg, slight black pepper, and lasting iron notes.
Bourye is clearly a sophisticated, soft, and balanced approach to rye. The age on this dram really shows, tempering its rye elements in a way that is relatively uncommon in the world of American rye whiskies. We expect to be punched in the face with pepper, spice, and bite—but either with time or the magic of High West’s blending abilities, the rye notes remain balanced and in line with the bourbon notes. Bourye is undeniably sophisticated and drinkable, and its tempering of rye with bourbon works perfectly as a bourbon drinker’s gateway to rye. Bourye showcases High West’s abilities perfectly, proving to me once and for all what all of the fuss is about.