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By Bennett Owen

The High West Distillery, Park City, Utah

Don’t mix good whiskey with water – unless you’re out of good whiskey…” - Texas Bix Bender

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

How do you critique a whiskey you’ve never tasted? How do you reflect on flavor and aroma and finish when your preferences in booze have always favored quantity over quality? Well, you defer to the sober opinions of the experts. Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave High West Rendezvous Rye its highest recommendation and the following enthusiastic write-up:

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

“Strong but intriguing. Has rich aromas of burnt orange and caramel. The flavor also reflected burnt orange and caramel plus a spicy tinge reminiscent of cassia burk or Red-Hot candies. The finish lingers, pleasant, inviting and warm. Might be good for Manhattans – a touch of fruit or sweetness would go well.” 
-    Wine Enthusiast Magazine Dec. 2010

Owner David Perkins samples his whiskey. Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

And it just so happens that High Country features its own recipe for a Manhattan, with a hat tip to Winston Churchill’s Mum!

Mix 1.5 oz. High West Rendezvous Rye, 0.75 oz sweet vermouth, 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with whiskey cherries.

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

Rendezvous Rye is High West’s signature product but the distillery boasts a variety of Ryes ranging in age from 12 to 21 years, Vodka 7000 (as in feet high) and something called US Grant Centennial Celebration.  And unlike many of its Park City customers, High West spirits are NOT free.

High West touts itself as the world’s first and only ski-in gastro-distillery. It’s located at the bottom of Quittin’ Time ski run in Old Town Park City.  “Ski in, stumble out,” as the help like to say.

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

That said, people who have eaten there and whom I trust, describe the food as “extraordinary.” Owner David Perkins founded High West in an old livery stable and insists that fact has no influence on the taste of his spirits.

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

He describes his saloon as “a quaint, family restaurant and bar where patrons can refuel on contemporary Western food.” With a dram of rocket fuel on the side.

Photo courtesy of High West Distillery.

It’s a far cry from our neighborhood bar in Polaris, Montana - the Polar Bar. Its proprietor, Old Walt Melcher (RIP), had a two-drink repertoire … the Whiskey Ditch … bourbon, ruined with water … and the Sagebrush…bourbon neat. Melcher claimed he could speak German too but would never do so for fear his false teeth would fall out.

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