Highspire is a new whiskey, but it traces its roots back to 1823, when Robert Wilson first created Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey in Highspire, PA. This popular 100% rye floundered after Prohibition, but fortunately for us, a California winemaker named Austin Hope has created an homage to the original.
The modern Highspire is made from 100% rye grains grown in Kentucky. But where things really take a turn is in the aging process. Highspire is aged for a mere four months, and those barrels: red wine casks from Paso Robles, CA. Given the age and the maturation process, this spirit cannot technically even be called rye whiskey. Instead, it’s a product unto itself.
On the nose, you’ll find lots of spicy, roasted rye aromas alongside cooked fruits. Take a sip, and more cooked fruits come out–apples, pears, bananas–plus baking spices, vanilla and strong notes of tobacco and cedar wood. It finishes long and warm with lingering notes of fruit.
This is very young whiskey, and it tastes like it. But there’s so much flavor going on here, from the rye grains to the wine and fruit that it makes for one interesting drink. The wine barrels impart tons of character and offer something different in the ever-growing category of ryes. That said, we’d be interested to see these rye grains aged traditionally and for a longer period of time. But for now, Highspire has given us something unique, and we can always appreciate that.
– 40% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★