High West is a distillery that seems to keep becoming more and more popular. Maybe it’s because I really like High West that I just notice their whiskey all over the place now, I don’t know. Either way, I’m not mad about it. I’ve had a few of their whiskeys before, but I wanted to give one of their nicer selections a try. So, here we are with a bottle of High West Rendezvous Rye.
We’ll discuss some of the basics of High West and Rendezvous Rye before jumping into the tasting notes. Is HW Rendezvous good? Is it worth the price tag? That’s what we’re here to find out.
High West History
David Perkins, and his wife Jane, founded High West Distillery in 2006. The idea came to David while he was on a tour of a distillery in Kentucky. David was a biochemist and noticed many similarities between his job and distilling.
So, David did what almost any man wants to do – pack the family up, move to the mountains, and start a distillery. Park City, Utah is where they landed. Distilling began in 2007, and their saloon opened up in 2009, where you can tour their facilities and enjoy a dram or two of High West Whiskey.
High West was purchased by Constellation Brands in 2016 for a reported $160 million.
High West Rendezvous Rye Overview
- Spirit: Blend of Straight Rye Whiskey
- Owned By: Constellation Brands
- Distilled By: High West Distillery and MGP
- Aged: 4-7 years
- ABV: 46%, 92 proof
- Mashbill: 80% rye, 20% malted rye blended with 95% rye, 5% malted barley
- Price: $70-80
Rendezvous Rye is named after the first whiskey fest that took place in the the Wyoming/Utah area back in the early 1800’s. High West Rendezvous Rye is the company’s flagship whiskey, but it is now offered as a seasonal/annual release.
The whiskey itself is a blend of High West’s own straight rye whiskey – a pot still, 80% rye, 20% malted rye mash that is aged 4+ years – and MGP’s 95/5 rye whiskey that’s aged 4+ years. High West Rendezvous Rye is a no age statement whiskey, but their website let’s us know the age of the whiskey is 4-7 years.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of malted rye. Chattanooga Whiskey uses it in their mashbill, which has become one of my recent favorites.
The other thing to note here is the price. High West Rendezvous MSRP’s for about $75. It better be some pretty good whiskey to charge that. However, I’ve seen Total Wine offer it for as low as $58, so I’d check there before anywhere else if you’re looking for a bottle.
High West Rendezvous Rye Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, we can move on to my favorite part. It’s time to pour myself a dram and find out what this whiskey is really all about.
Nose: There are typical rye spice notes in here, but it’s not dominant – citrus, rye spice, some sweet licorice. The oak reminds me more of wood shavings than toasted oak barrels. Brown sugar, cinnamon apple. Pleasant nose.
Palate: Round, full, and rich. Brown cinnamon sugar stands out with a rye profile in the background. Citrus, apple, touch of cherry are among the fruity notes I’m getting. A little leathery as well.
Finish: The rye is more prominent on the finish with your typical citrus, mint, and pepper. There’s still some of that sugar and cherry present as well. The oak note was more of a toasted oak on the finish, in comparison to wood shavings and leather on the nose and palate.
This is good. Really good. It’s not your typical rye either. Rye tends to be a bit sharper and is usually dominated by black licorice, mint, citrus, pepper, and rye spice. Most of those flavors are here to some degree, but it’s more so the undertone of it.
This certainly drinks closer to a high rye bourbon in my opinion with the cherry, brown sugar, and cinnamon apple. The mouthfeel is also much more round and rich than your typical rye. The wood note was also different from the nose, palate, and finish which I found to be quite pleasant.
I’m starting to think that malted rye is a really good addition to whiskey.
This is certainly where High West Rendezvous Rye will struggle a little bit. $70-80 is a lot of money to spend on a bottle of whiskey, especially rye whiskey. So, I really think you have to be a connoisseur of whiskey, or at least financially well off (both, ideally), to consider buying a bottle of Rendezvous Rye.
This is a whiskey I’d love to have on my shelf full time, but I’m not even one to spend $70 on a bottle too often. I love rye whiskey, so I’m more than happy to spend $35 on a bottle of High West Double Rye, which is also very good. My expensive rye whiskey ($50-65) I usually go for is Laws, WhistlePig PiggyBack, Sagamore Spirit Double Oak, but I can definitely put Rendezvous Rye up there with them.
I think people that like rye whiskey, but are more bourbon drinkers would really love Rendezvous Rye. If that’s you, then I’d definitely recommend getting yourself a bottle.
One downside for the more experienced drinker would definitely be the proof. 92 proof, 46% abv, is definitely an upgrade from 80 proof, but for $70 a lot of people will definitely want it to be above 100 proof.
High West Rendezvous Rye Summary
I think I’ve made it clear that High West Rendezvous Rye is a good whiskey, or at least that I really like it. It’s really not surprising to me at all, though, because High West makes damn good whiskey. They offer much cheaper whiskey, too, so you don’t have to start at the $70 price point either.
The downside to Rendezvous Rye is definitely the price and the proof for some people, too. However, this is a very good rye whiskey that drinks a bit like a bourbon. There’s layers and complexity to it, and it lacks the sharpness that turns many people off of rye.
This certainly isn’t a whiskey that everyone will have on their shelf, but if you have the means and like good rye/bourbon, I’d recommend it.