Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by High West. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Founded in 2006 by David Perkins and his wife Jane, High West Distillery became Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870. David, who had previously worked as a biochemist, moved his family to Utah in order to start a distillery there.
Along with his love of the Old West, David was attracted to Utah in large part because of its little-known whiskey history. According to the High West website, David’s inspiration to open his own distillery occurred “after seeing the parallels between the fermentation and distilling process and his own work in biochemistry during a trip to a whiskey distillery in Kentucky.”
David and his family relocated to Park City, Utah, in 2004 and began distilling in 2007. In 2009, High West Saloon was opened in Park City where the general public can tour the working distillery and even have a drink at their bar located in an old livery stable.
This version of High West Rendezvous Rye being reviewed was launched in May of 2021. Rendezvous Rye is the distillery’s first whiskey and flagship bottling, and remains their most award winning expression. A new seasonal and limited edition is released annually.
As mentioned on the label, the naming of this whiskey was inspired by the “Rendezvous,” which was “the first recorded whiskey fest out West, an 1820’s mountain man gathering in Wyoming and Utah’s Cache Valley that turned whiskey into the first of endless possibilities.” Fusing a New West and an Old West aesthetic, the label on the bottle was crafted by American artist Ed Mell, who is known for his modern Western landscape paintings. Fans of his artwork include such celebrities as Diane Keaton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
High West Distillery’s annual limited-release is a blend of straight rye whiskeys ranging between 4 to 7 years in age. At 92 proof (46% ABV), it’s aged for at least four years in new charred oak barrels. The mash bill consists of Midwest Grain Products: 95% rye, 5% malted barley and High West Distillery’s own 80% rye and 20% malted rye.
Tasting Notes: High West Rendezvous Rye
Vital Stats: 92 proof (46% ABV), Mash bill – MGP: 95% rye, 5% malted barley; HWD: 80% rye, 20% malted rye, 750 ml MSRP $76.99.
Appearance: A rich golden honey color.
Nose: On the nose are botanical and grassy notes of spices, vanilla, and oak offering a delicate and sweet fragrance with a hint of thyme.
Palate: Flavors such as cinnamon apple, butterscotch, hints of black tea, and a slight roasted marshmallow taste are nicely balanced with a clean woodiness. I also noted an unexpected yet delightful spearmint flavor and the slightest hint of white cherry.