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High West Whiskey – Rendezvous

Review: High West Whiskey – Rendezvous (89.5/100)
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 2, 2009

Rendezvous from High West Whiskey is a blend of two straight Rye whiskeys. The first a 6 yr old 95% rye and the second a 16 yr old 80% rye. Each was aged in new oak prior to blending.

High West Rendezvous


In the Bottle: 3.5/5.0

A nice bottle design with a sealed cork topper. Close examination of the cork reveals a large crack, indicating break down of the cork already. I wish the topper would have been wax sealed for storage, and the entire presentation should have been in some sort of sleeve to protect against UV damage or the glass frosted. The protective sleeve is just a niggle, but as a collector I wish North American distillers would learn a little from the Scots. I may own a bottle for ten or twenty years before it is opened, or resold. I want the contents unchanged.

In the Glass  9.5/10

Upon pouring the bottle we have a really nice nose. Full spicy Rye with a ribbon of bourbon vanilla. Swirling the glass we get some small legs indicating a little oil in the mix. Nice! Letting the glass sit the bourbon note becomes stronger but still spicy ryeness dominates. I wouldn’t call this floral, but we do have a bit of alpine meadow here.

In my Mouth  54/60

I can taste three distinct flavours here. First is a spicy hard rye which reached up and grabbed my tonsils as soon as the first mouthful hit the back of my throat. Behind the first wave we have a smoother spice which coats my palate. I taste oak tannin disguising itself as cloves and cinnamon, but with a gentle oil giving this depth. The two ryes don’t really compete for my attention, The first rye grabs it and the second rye holds it. Entwined within this ocean of rye is a ribbon of bourbon and vanilla. Whether this is the result of fresh oak or the result of corn in one or both of the mashes I am not certain. We have a nice ocean of rye with a bourbon influence that compliments but does not dominate. However a certain bitter punkiness (probably wayward sulpher or maybe that oak tannin I mentioned earlier) arises in the very bottom of this ocean spoiling what could have been sensational.

In the Throat  13.5/15
A very nice burn with a nice long finish. The spicy rye stays in my palate and the ribbons of bourbon leave their trails in my throat. A small foggy bitterness stays at the very back of the throat.

The Afterburn 9.0/10

I really like how the rye is front and center. The 46% alcohol gave this a really nice kick as well. My final impression though is one of tiny details left undone, maybe the two ryes in the blend needed a marriage in oak before bottling. Maybe the inferior corkage put that hint of bitter note into the mix. It hard to say. I really want to score this higher but when I go through my ratings I just can’t quite justify it.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)



7 Responses to “High West Whiskey – Rendezvous”

  1. Robert Jordan said

    I really enjoyed this whisky. So much, that i bought a bottle for my dad that i have a sip of everytime I visit. Your rating is right about where I would put it as well.

    • It is a nice whiskey just to sip on every once in a while as a treat, isn’t it?

      • Robert Jordan said

        Definately. I would love to try the 16 and 21 year high west whiskies but they are pretty expensive.

        • I was very disappointed in the 21 Year old. It was more like an aged bourbon than a good aged rye whiskey. (I only tasted it and could not do a full review based upon one taste.) I tasted te 16 as well, but the Rendezvous was easily the best of the three for my palate.

  2. Kent Villagomez said

    I very enjoyed studying this one and it touched my soul

  3. aldo tabone said

    what’s your opinion on Jack Daniels???

    • I usually work hard to get to know a whiskey before I begin to espouse an opinion so please bear in mind that my limited experience with the Tennessee Whiskeys renders this opinion less than ideal. Having said that, I will admit that I am not fond of Jack Daniels. The sour mash taste is very demanding, and I am afraid that I have not learned to appreciate the Tennessee style. I think this is more of a palate bias than a reflection of the whisky. I used to feel the same way about tequila, but I found that my initial bias against that spirit was based more upon my lack of understanding of the spirit than a lack of quality.

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