A curious critter
Posted 20 February 2018 by Matt / In High West
Bottle Name: High West Bourye Limited Sighting
Distillery: High West
Utah’s High West has been making waves in American whiskey over the past 12 years. From being founded in 2006 as Utah’s first distillery since the end of Prohibition in 1933, the Park City-based operation has expanded to four locations and been purchased by Constellation Brands in 2016, winning several industry awards along the way. One of their best known, and much loved expressions is Bourye. Bourye was first released in 2009 as a curious experimental blend of straight bourbons and straight ryes, that at the time was the only such cross-grain blend available. Wild Turkey’s ‘Forgiven’ and Jefferson’s ‘Chef’s Collaboration’ have subsequently followed suit, but Bourye, as first out the gate, still maintains a dedicated fan base.
Bourye, makes fun out of its bastardising hybrid nature through its label – it shows a picture of a Jackalope, a mythical North American critter that’s a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope – basically a horned rabbit. High West are a pretty transparent company when it comes to showing the origin of their products, each with its own ‘technical spec’ available from the company’s website. Here’s the Bourye Limited Sighting spec. The bottling is a blend of bourbon and rye whiskies aged for a minimum of 10 years in charred new American oak and comes in at 46% ABV.
As a limited bottling, each Bourye displays a batch number that can be translated though to its bottling date (Year / Month by letter of the alphabet / Day). My bottling is 17A12, so 12th January 2017.
Nose: Sweet with earthy spices. Stewed plums, peaches and dark cherries provide a rich fruity start that quickly moves in to the sugary spectrum – demerara, caster and heavily caramelised. Spicing is extremely earthy, offering a mixture of soils, cinnamon, peppercorns and black cardamom. These sit alongside an intense nuttiness – particularly hazelnuts, but also peanuts and sesame seeds. A few drops of water unleashes some big umami flavours – soy, mushrooms and meat stock. It’s a heady mix that offers both bourbon and rye flavours in equal measure. Quite clever
Taste: Prickly spice and cask influence. Drying and slightly bitter spices merge with reduced dark fruits (plums and cherries again, with dates and prunes joining) and wood influence. Vanilla and oak are much more present in the mouth than on the nose and offer both sweetness and astringency at the same time. Cinnamon is still quite dominant, but whilst this is nowhere near as spicy as either a straight bourbon or rye, there’s a complex medley of spices in play here. The addition of water has a similar effect as it does on the nose – the introduction of deep umami flavours.
Finish: Medium to long, with reduced dark fruits and peppery spice. Quite drying and slightly bitter.
High West Bourye Limited Sighting does exactly as it says on the tin – it brings both bourbon and rye together – but it allows both constituents ample opportiunity to shout about their distinctive features. Part sweet, part earthy, this whiskey is quite transformed with water, taking on a superb array of savoury flavours that up complexity levels further. Perhaps more successful on the nose than on the palate, this is nevertheless rather lovely. Alas, it’s generally much more expensive than High West’s standard bottlings, so you’re going to have to pay more if you want a limited sighting of this curious critter.
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