- 102.6 Proof
- 4 Years
- Barrel No. 489
I feel like it's been a while since I've taken an absolute flyer on a purchase of whiskey. Even when I've grabbed something new off the shelf, it's usually been from a distiller I know or I have some idea of what I'm getting into. This was not the case, however. I'd never heard of High Hawk prior to purchasing this bottle. Quite frankly, I don't know that there's much about the squat bottle and desert scene label that would have grabbed my attention. But, on that day I got a hair up my ass and decided to try a new rye that landed on the Binny's private barrel shelves.
The whiskey is distilled in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, which is northwest of Madison bordering Minnesota. So, I was surprised I hadn't heard of LaCrosse Distilling. It also begs the question, why the desert scene on the label? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, a four year single barrel Wisconsin rye for $50 seemed like a fun gamble to me.
The nose on this was very soft and inviting. While this is not a super high rye, it's still a 70% rye, and I expected a bit more spice and punch. Instead, what I got was a soft and sweet caramel with a malt backbone, almost pilsner like, along with a layer of vanilla. That was all accompanied by a mild pine resin to add a bit of earthiness.
On the flavor, I still didn't get any of the typical rye spice I've come to expect. There was no cinnamon or black pepper. Rather, much like the nose, the flavor was very caramel forward. It was a soft but sweet caramel note that reminded me of Werther's candies. It also had that malt note from the nose, and at times I was reminded of Golden Grahams (which happens to be one of my favorite cereals).
However, it did bring forward some more traditional rye notes as the pine was even more prominent on the palate than it was on the nose. I also got a bright mint note right up front, which seemed to flutter in and out with each sip.
The finish was probably my favorite part of this whiskey, though, as all those sweet and malty notes seemed to coalesce at the end into a delicious butterscotch note. It was also on the finish that I got a little bit of an oak note to add a bit more character and even a bit of dryness.
All in all, I liked this whiskey. Though I may have preferred a bit more spice, I think this will appeal to a lot of whiskey drinkers. It didn't have any of the sharp young notes that are always so off putting, and the flavors all seemed to work fairly well together. I need to make it a point to grab those unknowns off the shelf more often, even if the winners may end up in the minority. This was fun exploring this rye.