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High West Barrel Select Malbec Finish Rye Whiskey

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There's something so right about rye whiskey with a wine barrel finish. The legions of folks who go hunting for High West's now legendary Midwinter Night's Dram release know it - and of course now there isn't nearly enough to go around. So snagging a barrel of High West rye whiskey with a 1 year Malbec wine finish, that is crazy delicious, was a no brainer. Whiskey has a long history of aging in wine casks, but mostly in Scotland, and mostly in Sherry barrels. American whiskey has long been all about new oak and new oak only, until cask experimentation exploded in the last few years. While Sherry and Port remain popular choices, one of our pet favorite pairings combines super spicy ryes in red wine casks. The combination of brambly berries and red fruits with the herbs, mint, caraway, chocolate, and dry spice of a good rye is just too perfect.

Park City Utah's High West Whiskey has long touted their Double Rye as being a quest for "the spiciest rye whiskey in the world", and while the formulation has changed over time from being all sourced whiskey to containing a good portion of their own distillate, that devotion to super rye-y rye has been a constant, and the flavor certainly shows it. The standard bottling is full of classic rye notes like menthol, eucalyptus, black tea, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. As part of their single cask program, High West took a barrel of what would have been part of a Double Rye blend and then aged it a further year in fresh Argentine Malbec casks. The big, juicy, dark cherry and earth character of Malbec is immediately apparent on opening the bottle up, and even more so upon pouring a glass and letting it open up. The nose is jam and spices, with blackberry jam leading the way, along with licorice, allspice, strawberry shortcake, and fresh baked rye bread. On the palate, the jamminess continues on a big and round mouthfeel, with more sweet blackberry, sage, cinnamon toast, licorice, cedar, and a hint of tobacco. The finish is pure rye, with big hearty bread and a hint of cocoa. Bottled at 49.4% abv.