Saturday, March 24, 2018

High West American Prairie Reserve Blend of Straight Bourbons

VITALS:
- $50
- 92 Proof
- NAS
- Batch No. 14H28-A
- Region: Utah (distilled in Indiana and Kentucky)

Just over a year ago I made my first pilgrimage over to the High West distillery in Utah. At the end of our tour, we saddled up to the bar and ordered our samples. Of course, I went with the "Reserve" flight which included their Valley Tan, Light Whiskey, Bourye, Midwinter's Night's Dram, and their American Prairie Reserve. The bartender informed us then that the American Prairie Reserve was no longer for sale in bottles and they had no plans to release it again. This was even more disappointing news Once I made my way through my flight and realized that the Reserve was the best of the bunch.

Then an odd thing happened. Back in the Chicago area, a batch of Reserve from 2014 managed to make its way to shelves. We first saw it at Warehouse Liquors. I picked up a bottle at a shop in Huntley. A bunch of bottles also sat on the shelf at the downtown Binny's for months. This glut of bottles appears to have dried up now, and who knows when I'll see it next, but I was thrilled to have gotten my hands on this bottle.

The American Prairie Reserve is a blend of 6 year old bourbon from MGP/LDI and 10 year old bourbon from Four Roses. As with High West's American Prairie Bourbon, High West donates 10% of profits from the sale of these bottles to the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana. Without even drinking it yet I already love this stuff.

But, the whiskey is damn good too!! On the nose I get a lot of corn and some light alcohol.  I also got something a bit savory, almost like peanut butter. It had a twist too, with some almond and cherry coming through. I loved the complexity of the nose and couldn't stop sniffing my glass.

On the palate the whiskey was sweet with nice, spicy cinnamon notes that I noticed at the back of my throat. The almond sort of tang, like amaretto, also carried forward from the nose, and it mixed with a delicious vanilla note that was present throughout. Toward the end it developed a sort of Honey Nut Cheerios flavor as well as a bit of a black cherry note. The cherry note was subtle, but there just enough to add an additional layer of flavor that seemed to counterbalance the corn or grain notes.

Although not super viscous, this whiskey was thick enough to coat the mouth and allow all these flavors to linger for quite a while. It had a lot going on but was still very approachable and drinkable.

I went into this one knowing I loved it, and I finished it off wishing I had more. I love just about everything that High West does, and this is one of my favorite things to come out of there.

Grade: A

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