Classification: Blend of Straight Rye Whiskeys
Company: Constellation Brands
Distillery: High West Distillery & MGP
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: 2 Years (Blend of straight rye whiskeys ranging in age from 2 to 7 years)
Mashbill: Undisclosed ratio of 95% rye, 5% barley malt from MGP and 80% rye, 20% malted rye from High West Distillery
Color: Golden Hay
MSRP: $40 (2021)
High West Double Rye! is the entry level rye offering from High West Distillery. For years, the rye consisted of a blend of sourced ryes consisting of a 2 year old MGP rye and 16 year old Barton rye. However, starting in 2018, the company started to substitute the 16 year sourced whiskey with the company’s own distillate that is aged up to 7 years. While exact ratios of the blend are not released by the company, they have stated in the past that the portion of home made High West rye in the blend will always remain the minority, never surpassing 50% of the blend.
Light hay, pine, a touch of oak, and the slightest of rye spice start things off. Weaving throughout are also prominent scents of fresh dill. The flavors play off one another well, however it’s an odd combination for a rye, foregoing the typical spice notes for a more pronounced herbaceous scent profile. It makes you pause to ponder exactly what scents are in the glass. In this case, the odd aroma isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as its uniqueness is what makes it interesting.
The palate is on the lighter side of the spectrum. Muted sweet vanilla, oak, light flavors of honey, cinnamon stick, and light botanical notes come into view. Pushing against these flavors is a more prominent rye spice. Unlike the nose, the youth plays a more noticeable role as the younger rye’s two years in the barrel comes across as lighter and more muted notes. The end result is an average yet forgettable palate.
A flash of sweet rye spice starts the finish, followed by touches of sweet vanilla and oak. A simmering heat is present and is eventually joined by drier oak notes. Medium in length, the finish follows the same path that the palate did in presenting a fine yet forgettable way to end the sip.
When we first reviewed Double Rye! in 2014, we found it to be a very good rye that presented a fantastic, unique sip for an equally fantastic price. A lot of this had to do with the 16 year Barton rye that was previously blended in. While exact ratios were never disclosed, even just a few years back, aged rye was much more affordable than it is today. However, with the transition to its own distillate, Double Rye! is similar in some ways, yet very different in others.
Where the previous version of Double Rye! displayed a heavy botanical trait throughout the sip, the newer version starts off the same with heavy herbaceous notes in the nose, yet diverges once the palate starts. Here the inclusion of their own distillate, which tops out at 7 years old, allows the 2 year old MGP rye to be more prominent. The end result is a more tame sip that seems to never find its proper direction. It’s a rye that easily blends into the sea of average ryes currently available in the market.
Double Rye! has barely gone up in price over the years. Often found for $35-$40, it makes you realize what a great value the old formulated product used to be. While the price has basically stayed the same, the whiskey inside the bottle certainly hasn’t. The uniqueness that used to play so heavily in the old version, is now replaced with one that is almost completely ordinary. While it's still slightly unique thanks to High West’s distillate, it’s also one that is priced accordingly for what it is.
Working in their own distillate into High West Double Rye! has resulted in an acceptable rye that the company can take more ownership of, but one that has lost something in the transition.
Years ago, High West Double Rye! used to be a staple recommendation that I would tell to all who would listen. The rye used to present a unique sip at a fantastic price point, and had a fun story to go along with it regarding the higher age rye that was in the mix. Fast forward several years and the company has replaced the 16 year old rye with its own much younger distillate. Like many companies that start off sourcing their whiskey and eventually transition over to their own distillate, flavor profiles can change when that transition happens. In this case, the end result is a rye that while not bad, doesn’t maintain that memorable staying power that it used to.
The nose starts off the sip promisingly enough, offering a unique herbaceous profile that makes you ponder what’s to come. Unfortunately, the palate and finish that follow are perfectly acceptable, but lack the same uniqueness that the nose has. The end result is a rye that while not bad, doesn’t maintain that memorable staying power that it once used to.