High West is one of our favorite producers, and a barrel pick with them is a staple of our club. We've done two fantastic (and unique) picks with them before, and we took advantage when the opportunity presented itself again. We were given a choice between several finishes, ranging from more common finishes (cognac cask) to geeky ones (Spanish brandy and barreled Manhattan).
To mitigate the risk of being swayed by knowing which finished sample we are tasting, we taste everything blind and base our selections on taste and profile alone. This is what we've done with High West samples, and out of the five we tasted (two were double ryes, and three were bourbon), two were very interesting. Different but interesting. if we call two samples we liked, Samples A and Sample B, Sample A had more of a traditional profile with a great nose, pretty tasty palate, and medium finish. Sample B was a lot more "geeky." That can sometimes be bad, as things can go far to the left. Thankfully, this was not the case with this sample, as it was unique enough to be different from anything you might already have in your bar yet still be a delicious bourbon. Sample B was also a better-balanced bourbon out of the lot. We chose Sample B for our selection due to its better overall value and uniqueness.
Sample A turned out to be Cognac-finished bourbon, while Sample B was Barreled Manhattan finished (which explained its unique profile). Our selection, the American Prairie Bourbon from Hight West, was then finished for six additional months in Barreled Manhattan barrels they use to make their Barreled Manahattan Cocktails expression. Typically, Barreled Manhattan expression's wood notes play exceptionally well with rye whiskey on the palate. Notes of wood flavors gently balance the drink towards rye spiciness over the Vermouth sweetness. Add that finish to bourbon, and you get a version of BouRye. High West does not offer the barrel program at cask strength (yet), but this expression came in at 100.2 Proof, which translated well to how easily drinkable it is.
- Whiskey Type: American Prairie Bourbon
- Barrel Number: 27479
- Barrel Type: Barreled Manhattan
- Finish Time: 6 months
- Proof/ABV: 100.2 / 50.1%
Here's what you can expect from this barrel:
Nose: Black cherry fruit leather, stewed strawberries, orange peel, molasses, cinnamon bark, sage
Taste: Silky and creamy, mild tannins, honeysuckle, raw honey, candied apple, slightly herbaceous, fennel
Finish: delicate, floral, cardamom, fennel
The title theme of this selection is "Big Apple," which refers to the finish (Manhattan) and our physical location. The selection also has apple notes, so the name was very apropos.
As with most of our picks, we'll donate $5 from every bottle sold to HateDust Project. The organization supports education and services for children, veterans, and local communities through crowdsourced funding through sales of offbeat goods.