The first time I had a Rye Whiskey was about 3 years ago in Chicago (3yrs ago, before I even knew how to really taste whiskies). It was Templeton Rye, the same stuff Al Capone drank – cool! I remember it being very spicy but, inviting.
Earlier in the week I went to Binny’s in Schaumburg, IL just to see what they had — not really to buy anything but, they always have such a large selection, I just wanted to check it all out and drool a little bit. And drool I did! Man-o-Maneschewitz, they have a lot to look at (much of it is a bit overpriced though…).
Binny’s allows you to taste many of their whiskies before you buy (very cool value-added feature of their stores). Walking through, I saw the Templeton Rye and they had a sample so I asked to try a some. Quite nice stuff and at $26 a bottle, very buyable. The salesman, however, suggested that before I buy a Rye, I should try the High West Rendezvous (I can not stand typing that word: “Rendezvous”, so unnatural!). I did and… wow-wow-wee-wow-wow!! Awesome stuff, hence my buy, hence the review.
Here we go!
The High West Rendezvous is actually a blend of two ryes – a 16yr made from 80% rye and a 6yr made from a bill of 95% rye! Both of those are well above the standard rye bill of about 51% (the minimum). Even with the age of the 80% rye (16yrs), I was expecting something so insanely spicey that it’d be too much to handle. O-contrare-mon-frare! The spice was there but not biting at all.
Initial whiff – Fennel seed (think candied fennel seeds one would get from a good Indian or Pakastani restaurant), cinnamon, maybe spiced pumpkin (or the spices that make up that smell)
On the mouth – Chewy. Chewy sugared gumdrops, the orange ones (I used to be addicted to these gum drops, sucking off all of the sugar until just the chewy goodness was there to masticate), quite a bit of vanilla, maybe some toasted coconut. This one is all over the place, very nice.
Finish – The spice is mostly gone now, but my mouth is still all a’coat with warmth. Nice oily feel.
In sum – The folks who made this are artisans, plain and simple. I could drink this any time of the year and in most moods. This stuff is not available in Connecticut, check their website for availability in your area. Seek this one out.