High West – Campfire (46%) batch 13H16

High West CampfireIt’s been cold in New England, lately. Of course it’s always New England in New England so it’s also been inexplicably balmy and rainy between waves of polar humiliation. The people here don’t all like the crazy weather, but to some, unpredictable seasons are part of the charm of living here. Personally, I’d be happier having a grandparent-type relationship with the cold and snow, like if I could come and visit it for a while and then go home if it starts to annoy me. Maybe I would write it long winded emails IN ALL CAPS WITH NO PUNCTUATION EVER while ignoring all of its replies.

Unlike the atypical mix of weather that’s happening all over my driveway, the atypical mix of whisky I’m about to review today is really nice. This is an American/Scottish hybrid; blended Scotch, mixed with straight Bourbon and straight rye. Peat and rye can both be delicious when they’re still young and punchy. The peat also benefits from the sweetness of the Bourbon. In turn, the Bourbon and rye dilute the peat’s smoke, showing us what blended scotch could taste like if they used more virgin casks.

In fact, I could see using this as a blended Scotch in mixed drinks to punch up the Scotch flavor. Try using it in a Penicillin for a little extra pop!

Nose: Band-Aid phenol and rye vinyl intertwine for the most obvious parts of the first impression. Agitating or swirling the glass sends the vanilla up. It smells a little bit like cocaine in autumn. Other evidence of the pedigree; raisins mashed in cocoa, and traces of coconut suntan lotion. Sandalwood and blueberry macerated in brown sugar put it all together.

Palate: It starts off blatantly Scotch, with a peat that the Rye and Bourbon layers are applied over. They enter the palate in that order for me; peat > spice > sweet. Leafy peat and a mild pepper meander throughout. Onions and woody toothpaste change into fish sauce and sambal olek chili paste. Next come apricots and blueberries. There’s almost a butterscotchy Canadian sweetness to it all.

Rating: RecommendedUnlike the Son of Bourye, which left me scratching my head, the reasons for blending the Campfire make a lot more sense. I wouldn’t assume any of the parts were amazing alone, but together they definitely make something really nice.

Thank you Katie Flanagan of High West for the bottle!

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