High West "Beehive" Private Barrel Rye Whiskey
Plunging well aged whiskey into a barrel still wet from holding another spirit is an audacious act - barrel management is an imprecise science after all, and barrel finishing can be a ruinous art. This is doubly true when a producer is coloring outside the better known lines of sherry and port finishes. So it was with a dram of skepticism that we first sipped a rye whiskey finished, with a gleeful disregard for orthodoxy, in a gin cask. Imagine our delight when we found this High West "Beehive" Barrel not only to be a success, but a legitimately great, completely singular whiskey!
High West has steadily built a reputation for exceptional barrel finished whiskeys, with the annual Midwinter Night’s Dram release having achieved cult status. With many years of distilling, sourcing and blending under their belt, High West has honed in on their own intrinsic understanding of underlying flavors and how to draw them out further. The Double Rye (a blend of High West and MGP distillates) is known for its spicy notes of anise, mint, clove, leather and pine - whiskey notes that are just as at home in a bottle of gin. As fortune would have it, Utah’s neighboring Beehive Distilling occasionally passes over one of their lovely French Oak ex-gin barrels (wood known and beloved for the rich spice and dark chocolate flavors it imparts.) The marriage is a seamless success, and after nine months of additional aging, our “Beehive Double Rye” barrel was born.
Calmed by the gin and french oak, the vociferous rye spice takes a backseat to the gentle cooing of the juniper notes. Rosemary, mint and thyme mingle with wild honey flavors, all swaddled into a rustic fresh baked dough, like a buttery bakery treat. Rich with refreshing citrus oils and a hint of green olives, cinnamon gives way to cardamom and clove, drifting into a long, warm finish, with wild meadow herbs, and a gentle whisper of dark cocoa. It would be easy for this to taste like rye whiskey with some gin in it - but instead we are rewarded with an incredibly complementary set of flavors that refuse to settle on any binary definitions.
This is quite a special barrel for us. On the one hand we love tasting through the entire journey of this whiskey (via Beehive’s gins and High West’s Double Rye) and transparently seeing every step of the evolution. On the other we’re equally giddy to stir it into our favorite classics. Being both whiskey nerds and mixology enthusiasts it’s a rare bottle that can speak to both sides. And though we often divide ourselves into whiskey fans, gin lovers, sippers or cocktail wonks - this is a refreshing pour we can all agree on.