Rendezvous Rye 2014 – Sample Vault Review

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Welcome to my Sample Vault Reviews. Here you’ll see the amazing once-in-a-lifetime samples in my ‘vault’. A lot of these have been generously sent to me or swapped for a sample of something I own! These samples are  from 3-20cl sample bottles and are from bottles that I don’t currently own. I may not get another chance to try any of these whiskies again and I cannot think of a better way to enjoy them than to share my experiences of them with you, my reader! I usually base my reviews on multiple tastings but these will be based on a ‘one sitting review’- if you have the same whiskey but got different tasting notes, let me know! I am always curious to hear from other peoples palates. Enjoy responsibly my friends!

Sláinte! – Paddy


Originally located in Park City, UT, The High West Distillery became operational as the first legal distillery in the state since 1870 in 2007 with a small 264-gallon still and Saloon in an historic livery stable and garage. Since then, it has grown into a internationally recognised brand with four locations, including a state-of-the-art distillery which opened in Wanship, UT in 2015 and features a 1,585 gallon Forsyths copper pot still that’s 25 feet tall and has capacity to produce 3,000 barrels a year. When High West first became operational, they built their reputation on blending whiskies they had sourced from distilleries such as MGP Indiana, Barton 1792 Distillery in Kentucky, Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky, and several other undisclosed distilleries whilst their own operation developed in the background. Unlike several other craft producers at the time, High West have always been open and honest about this business model and the sources of the whiskies where they could legally divulge this information.

As High West’s flagship product, Rendezvous Rye was the not only the first product produced by the distillery but it was also their first blend of their sourced stocks. The backstory for this particular label is that it commemorates the first recorded whiskey festival in the West during a period spanning 1825 to 1840. The whiskey itself is a blend of two straight rye whiskeys with high rye mashbills with the constituent parts changing over the years as barrels from particular sources have dried up. Originally, Rendezvous Rye used 6 y.o. barrels of MGP rye whiskey from the 95% rye, 5% malted barley mashbill, and blended it with 16y.o. Barton rye whiskey which supposedly used a 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% malted barley mashbill. Since 2018, however, High West have started adding their own mature distillate into the blend and now the blend consists of what High West call “A blend of older straight rye whiskeys ranging in age from 4 to 7 years” on their website. The two mashbills now are 6y.o.+ 95% rye, 5% malted barley rye whiskey from MGP and rye whiskey from High West Distillery made using a 80% rye, 20% malted mashbill. This whiskey is also non chill-filtered or carbon treated before bottling.

Today I’ll be reviewing the old Barton/MGP blend thanks to a 50ml sample from my friend @JHKBourbon.

Vital Stats:

Name: Rendezvous Rye (Batch 14K06)
Age: 6y.o.
Proof: 92 Proof (46% ABV)
Type: Straight rye whiskey
Mashbill: 95% rye, and 5% malted barley, blended with 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% malted barley.
Producer: High West Distillery, UT
Website: https://www.highwest.com/products/rendezvous-rye.php
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with big grassy rye notes and bright red fruit with faint maple syrup and baking spices. The rye becomes increasingly herbaceous and earthy the deeper you nose with a touch of barrel influence also becoming apparent.

Palate: The palate opens with red apples and cinnamon before a wave of peppery and tannic spice moves across the palate. As you continue to chew, the rye becomes herbaceous and gains a savoury edge as the rye and tannic oak build on the palate.

Finish: The finish is packed with lingering rye spice, tannins, and baking spices which fade to a herbaceous rye-driven aftertaste.

Overall 

If you’re a big rye fan, then this is the rye whiskey for you. Drinking this I get the clear impression that when High West promises a blend of two rye whiskies the end product is always going to be a big, bold, grassy rye whiskey. It’s jam-packed with flavour elements from both its constituent parts coming through as you move from the nose to the palate. The younger MGP rye whiskey is right at the front with all those typical MGP notes before what I imagine is the older Barton rye whiskey showing its age with herbaceous and oak-driven notes. There’s very little caramel or maple syrup notes which leads me to believe that the percentage of Barton rye in the blend couldn’t be very high. I can see why fans of these earlier releases weren’t happy when the recipes in these bottlings changed as the older rye really brings a lot of those mature earthy rye and barrel notes to the blend that balance out the young, bright, MGP rye notes. A true rye lover’s rye.

Try or Buy?

These still appear at auction from time to time and offer fans of High West an opportunity to taste a piece of the brand’s history. If you can find this at a bar even better!

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Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

Like you I’m a whiskey enthusiast. I don’t earn any money from distilleries, their parent companies, or their subsidiaries for my reviews. If you like what you’ve read and want to support this page then why not buy me a dram?

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