How do you turn four pretty good rye whiskies into one pretty fantastic rye whiskey?
You give them to one of the best—if not the best—American whiskey blenders of our lifetime: former Four Rose’s master distiller Jim Rutledge. The new High Plains Rye is bottled at 48.5% and uses whiskey from four different American distilleries:
MGP in Indiana
Middle West in Ohio
Kentucky Artisan in Kentucky
New York Distilling Co. in New York
On the nose, it smells like a number of small production, 100% rye mash bill whiskies on the market right now, where the rye is absolutely front and center. There’s oak in the background, but it’s more akin to sticking your head in a bag of rye bread.
However, the palate deviates from that singularity and moves into a balance of sweet baking spices, toasted oak, rye grains, and a lovely sweetness from the wood. The finish is like a warm blast of all that goodness you get to revisit after every sip: cloves, brown sugar, cinnamon. The more I drink it, the more I want to keep drinking it.
Jim Rutledge was the first master distiller I met when I started in the industry, and I’ve always admired both his character and his whiskies. Hence, I have a sentimental soft spot in my heart for this release, but personal bias aside: this is a fantastic rye.
And it’s a further testament to the idea that a whiskey, when well blended, can be far greater than the sum of its parts.