Friday, August 7, 2020

High West Campfire Distillery Exclusive Barrel Select Sherry Finished Blended Whiskey

VITALS:
- $60
- 101 Proof
- NAS
- Barrel No. 13093
- Finish Time: 1 yr., 3 mos.
- Utah

It's no secret that I'm a big High West fan. For the most part (there are some exceptions), I love everything they put out, especially their ryes. But what I really love about High West is their barrel select program. It seems High West is constantly finding barrels to use for finishing their core line-up of bourbon, rye and blended whiskey, and their Barrel Select program is great! I've had some absolutely amazing bottles finished in port barrels, Scotch barrels, and most recently one finished in Armagnac barrels that was one of the best whiskeys I've had in a long time.

So, when some buddies and I went to visit a friend at the distillery in Wanship, Utah, we made it a point to hit up the gift shop before it closed. It was as though I was drawn like a magnet--as soon as I walked through the door my hand immediately reached for this bottle. They frequently have gift shop exclusive bottlings available, and I knew this would be coming home with me regardless of what it was. Luckily for me, though, I love a good, sherried peated Scotch, and I knew this would be right in line with my tastes.

As I often get with peated Scotches finished in sherry barrels, one of the first notes that I got on this was a barbecue sauce aroma. It was smokey and fruity, with rich cherry notes. It offered a bit more complexity than I expected, though, as I also got a caramel and even cherry cola note. Consistent with the smoke, I got a bit of a burnt marshmallow note as well.

As to flavor, I likewise found more flavor than I had expected to.  Of course, I got a lot of smoke that I expected (and which makes peated Scotches somewhat divisive, especially among bourbon drinkers). The fruit notes, however, came across a bit lighter and brighter, more like a raspberry flavor than cherry. 

It had a lot of cinnamon spice to it, and that spice, along with the raspberry flavor and the smoke, certainly reminded me of a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. It even seemed to be sweetened up a bit by a soft honey note.

I did get other flavors that I'd traditionally associate with Scotch over rye or bourbon. I got a sweet pipe tobacco flavor, and even some floral notes. I couldn't tell you which flower I was tasting (my palate is not that refined, nor do I have the necessary experience eating and tasting various flowers), but it was light and soft and herbal, kind of like lavender.

The finish, aside from the smoke that lingered, carried more of a pastry note. It was soft and bready, and it reminded me of King's Hawaiian bread--that sweet and light bread that I can just eat all day on its own.

I know that campfire itself can be somewhat divisive, and certainly peated whiskey is. In fact, one of my buddies that was with me when I got this bottle grabbed one for himself, and he hated it to the point that he was looking to give away his bottle. I, however, absolutely loved this and thought it was a really well done finish on a product I already really liked. I enjoyed the last few pours around my fire pit in my back yard, and I couldn't have pictured a more fitting whiskey for that purpose.

Grade: A-

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