Monday, May 13, 2013

CBC Blind Tasting #5, High West Son of Bourye

High West is a "micro-distillery" located in Park City, Utah. They distill their own juice, but Bourye, and it's successor, Son of Bourye is sourced whiskey. Bourye and Son of neat little blending experiments as they are blends of a straight bourbon and a straight rye. According to High West, Son of Bourye is made with a 5 year old bourbon (75% corn/20% rye/5% malted barley) and a 3 year old rye (95% rye/5% malted barley). As a quick aside, I hold High West in high regard for publishing the mash bills and ages of what goes into the bottle.  Too many micros are secretive about that information.

On to the notes (46% ABV):

Average: 80.8


Color and nose: The color consists of a very light brown instead of the typical amber. Drinking from a bourbon tasting glass, it is significantly darker in the bowl than through the meniscus which presents as a pale yellow instead. This looks like a thin whisky. The nose is fruity with cherry and grape leaping to the fore. In their wake come corn (very gently), anise, salty caramel, and rhubarb. This is not a whisky with a high ABV.

Taste and finish: The initial taste is very earthy, mainly a revisit of the corn of the nose with a hint of grass and mint. Lower in alcohol than what I normally prefer, #5 is felt along the longer axis of the tongue albeit mildly. It has lost the fruits of the nose and the caramel has decomposed into a pure sugariness, indicative of an all-too-high wheat content. The finish takes earthiness, crescendos  the mint before collapsing into a fit of dill.

Overall: This thin, simplistic whisky seems to have been in the barrel too long for its own good. It has no depth or complexity. However, it is not unpleasant. Drinkable, yet I would not seek it out nor pay too much for it. I give this whisky a high fair rating: 79/100.


Nose is a orange with a hint of caramel. A very full bodied bourbon. Spicy with nutmeg and cinnamon. There's just a tiny hint of char as well. The finish develops slowly, but becomes very smooth with a nutty aftertaste. I really enjoyed this one. Not quite celebrating fatherhood, but maybe not an every day bourbon either. 90


Nose: sweet; vanilla and lavender

Taste: sweetness is there but nothing new emerges

Finish: far from offensive but this one never really comes together in the end; corn and little bit of oak

Overall: 81


Nose: bright, peppermint

Taste: smooth drinking: almost too easy going down. Would guess this is 80 proof. Little bit of woodiness, some rye spice. No strong, defining flavors.

Finish: short and undistinguished.

Didn't love this: found it to be pretty light and unexceptional. 76/100


Nose: Heavy corn, sweet, sort of funky.

Taste: Soft sweetness, corn some woodiness. No spice. Thin mouth feel and flavor. Just sort of lacking in character.

Finish: Mild sweetness and a funk that sort of hangs around.

Overall: 78. I did not like this whiskey. I took multiple sips trying to find something I liked about it. I failed.

Last words: This did not rate very highly in the group, and I think the reason is pretty obvious. The component whiskies that make up this whiskey are too young. I didn't think the rye was assertive enough as I would not have guessed there was any rye in there.

The four grain whiskey thing is something of a chimera in the bourbon world. Parker's Heritage Collection released a four grain in 2012, and I reviewed it here. I liked it, but I think it falls behind other PHC releases.  Hudson also puts out a Four Grain regularly. Hopefully distilleries like High West will continue to push the issue on new blends and styles of whiskey. While Son of Bourye falls short, this sort of experimentation can only lead to higher quality options for the whiskey consumer.


  1. Boy did I get a lot of this one wrong. The sweetness really threw me off and I didn't for a second suspect that it had that much corn that would cause this. This really tasted like a too-aged, low-end wheater to me. I don't understand how you have that much rye and it doesn't come out in any way. I am now even more disappointed in this one than I was before...

  2. Jason,

    One thing High West isn't telling us is what percentage of bourbon vs. rye they are using. Could be 75% bourbon, which may make it a lot sweeter than you'd expect. I got a cloying sweetness too, which can be characteristic of a young bourbon.

    Plus the rye they are using is from MPGI (most popular is the Bulleit Rye brand)...I typically get a minty flavor rather than a spicy/creamy flavor I get from most ryes. I don't think it has the punch of better ryes. I think that impacts what we are tasting as well.