Spirit: High West American Prairie Bourbon New Hampshire Liquor Outlet Store Pick
Distiller: High West Distillery
Aged: Blended Whiskey from 2 to 13 years of age
Proof: Traditionally 92 proof this pick is 100 proof
About The Distillery:
High West Distillery was founded in 2006 by David Perkins and his wife, Jane. David is a former biochemist. He was inspired to open his own distillery after seeing the parallels between the fermentation and distilling process and his own work in biochemistry during a trip to the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. In 2004, David and his family relocated to Park City, Utah to begin their new venture, where they began distilling in 2007. They chose Park City because of David’s love of the Old West and Utah’s little-known whiskey history.
About The Bottle:
High West Distillery is passionate about the American West’s natural beauty and American Prairie Bourbon. That’s why we want to raise awareness of one of the most fantastic projects of our time: the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana. This is an amazing effort to assemble the largest wildlife reserve in the lower 48 states. When stepping onto the plains of American Prairie Reserve, it’s easy to imagine the landscape as Lewis and Clark and Native Americans saw it, with thundering herds of bison, racing bands of pronghorn antelope and prairie dog towns dotting the horizon. When complete, the Reserve will be approximately 5,000 square miles; larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Teton National Parks combined.
Proof VS Heat
Nose: Honeysuckle vanilla with a bit of a cherry bite from the higher proof of the pick.
Palate: Typically this is an earthy with a sweet candy palate, but this pick has been finished in High West’s coveted Midwinter Night’s Dram barrels giving it some of the smoky elements that the Dram exhibits. It has that earth and spice characteristics but it flows into a smoked caramel with a light dusting of an ashy pepper.
Finish: Very smooth finish, restates that this bourbon is 100 proof without overwhelming you with heat. The finish works out those flavors stated by the palate and eases them down into a dwindling note of mainly charred honey and vanilla. Creeping and ever so slightly noticeable Kentucky hug that fades after about half a minute.
High West’s American Prairie Bourbon is something you wouldn’t find out of place if you somehow stumbled into a time machine and fell out 200 years in the past in center of a saloon in the Midwest of the U.S. However, this very aesthetic is what made it stand out on shelves to me. It’s got that old west style bottle as well as an unfinished wood-topped cork, making it look like it fits perfectly on a shelf behind the bar with a man sporting a handlebar moustache spit shining a glass in the 1800’s. Enough about the bottle though, looks are nice to have but we know it’s what’s inside that makes or breaks a bourbon.
Now I have had the American Prairie Bourbon from High West before and it’s a solid whiskey. The high corn with a low to mid rye and low barley percent mashbill make it a very approachable whiskey that is an excellent mixer bourbon, (in which there is no shame at all, enjoy your whiskey how you prefer it). The bottle tickled my curiosity with its special black label but captured my attention with the barrel it was finished in; A Midwinter Night’s Dram. In case you were unaware, A Midwinter Night’s Dram is a highly sought-after expression from High West known for its complex, smoky and hearty flavors. So naturally when I saw that on the bottle, I figured this finish is bound to add some uniqueness to the pour. My hunch turned out to be deliciously accurate.
Right off the bat, the nose has been updated from the light candied vanilla brittle, to a fuller and more honey forward note on the vanilla with some cherry on the tail end. This pick is 100 proof and you’ll know it if you leave your nose sitting in the glass for more than a second or two. It is by no means a brutal shock on the nose but it is noticeable for the proof.
The palate is where the finishing makes itself known. Again, it takes those sweeter notes that are found in the original expression and tones them down a bit, but doesn’t drown them out. Instead, it deepens them and slowly transforms them into a smoky version of each flavor. This is the best of both worlds from each pour in my opinion. It combines the best elements of both expressions and lets the drinker experience them all without lingering too long on any flavor but giving them just enough time to shine and come through.
The finish is a gradual diminishing of the aspects brought out in the palate ultimately fading into a pepper/mint combination with a touch of honey. The hug is present over the course of the finish but gently fades away alongside the flavors.
Overall, I would say this is a unique take on finishing of a blend of whiskies that did not disappoint for the price tag. I believe I picked this up for around $39.99 and the juice justifies the price on this one. It took a good sipping whiskey and a great mixer and turned it into an even better and more complex sipper that I’m sure would be just as good of a mixer as the original. I’m much more intrigued and willing to pick up High West store picks after having snagged this one. Moral of the story? If you see a High West whiskey with a black label on it, give it a shot.