High West’s bourbon-rye mash-up product is back again for 2017 with a new taxidermy mascot.
The jackalope-themed bottle contains bourse (pronounced boo-rye) which is High West’s unique mash-up of straight rye and straight bourbon from the same distillery, expertly blended into something that’s neither bourbon nor rye legally, and yet a great example of both.
Usually with small-batch products, you’re lucky to get a minimum age statement, but High West released a significant amount of information about the whiskey in this bottle. We know that the whiskey inside is aged from 10–14 years. We also know where the whiskey came from.
Bourye is a non-legal term High West has given for a blend of bourbon and rye whiskey. This year’s Bourye is a 46 percent ABV blend of two sourced spirits:
Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and 4 percent malted barley.
Straight Rye Whiskey at 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley.
Like the jackalope, it’s a brilliant work of taxidermy art. It’s spicy on the nose from the high rye content, but that ends up being a mislead: This whiskey is perfectly balanced. With a couple of drops of water, the bourbon brings sweetness and hints of vanilla while the rye provides depth — but not too much. While bold and spicy whiskey has dominated in previous years, this one is deceptively smooth.
Both mash bills are produced by Indiana-based MGP Ingredients Inc, the mega-distillery known to provide sourced whiskey for plenty of smaller whiskey brands.
It’s been the vogue to bash sourced whiskey as recently as 2016, and we know why: People want something unique, and if a distillery tries to mislead their drinkers on what’s in the bottle, it can make people angry. That’s why High West goes the other direction with products like these, saying, effectively, “look what we can do with other people’s whiskey. Just wait until ours gets this old.”
We will need to wait a few more years. High West, which has come under new ownership, is still “young” by the standards of American whiskey making, but they have some great products coming from their own stills. We hope that even when they have 14-year-old whiskey of their own in barrels, they won’t fully drop programs like this. It’s great to see talented whiskey blenders working with someone else’s stock.
Enough about the future. Right now, you should be looking for a bottle of Bourye, as the stock produced is limited. High West released the first bottles this month, so they’re already beginning to make it to market in most states. At $80 for a 10- to 14-year-old whiskey, it might be smart to stock up until next year.