Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review of the Highspire Whiskey - Made with Pure Rye

If you are like me, you love a good rye and recent additions to the market have not failed to impress.  From the 110 proof Pikesville from Heaven Hill to the various offerings from Smooth Ambler, there are numerous products on the market to satisfy your taste and price point.  In order to fulfill demand for rye, we are now seeing a multitude of “young” whiskeys on the market.  Initially, I was scared to drop good money on the Willet 2 year product but I am sure glad I did.  I have to say the mellowness and flavor coming out of that bottle is truly impressive.  The Willet 3 year rye has not disappointed either.  In the spirit of appreciation for these under-aged products, we submit this review of Highspire 6 month Rye.  

Coming out of Kentucky Artisan Distilleries in Crestwood, KY, Highspire comes in at 80 proof after being finished in wine barrels from Austin Hope Winery in California for 4 months.  The attractive bottle comes sealed with blue wax.  I must say that once I poured myself a shot, I certainly did not expect as must color to have been extracted from the barrel in the brief time it spent while at-rest.  It had a nice brown hue.  Not nearly as red hued as your typical sipper but still appealing.  Similar to its more-aged brethren, this 100% rye whiskey was extremely floral but with a sharper nose often refined by 4+ years of aging.    

The flavor was immediate.  Reminiscent of a flavor-forward reposado tequila, this whiskey covered the palate with floral and red berry notes.  Due to its youth, the sharp flavor did not evolve or develop throughout the tasting.  It is not overly complex but it definitely suggests that this juice will soon develop into something more refined and flavorful down the line. 
I rarely mix my whiskey but I wanted to see how this rye would interact in a cocktail.  I muddled my first peach of the season, some mint, lime and a bit of sorghum in a mug, poured some Highspire and let it mingle for a few minutes.  I shook the mix with ice and strained into a new iced highball and topped with a splash of soda.  It turned out to be a pretty good cocktail.  The complexity of the sorghum countered the youth of the rye.  The juicy peach complemented the fruit forward notes and the herbal flavor of the mint softened the sharpness of the spirit.

At this level of aging, Highspire is better served within a cocktail to complement its flavor profile.  There certainly are some things to be excited about if this label continues to provide ryes with a bit more age.  Coming in at a price point of approximately $45, they are churning out a decent product now but should soon develop into something special. 

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