Valley Tan is High West’s first release of their own aged whiskey. It’s 100% their own distillate and is the aged version of their Western Oat Silver Whiskey which is a pretty tasty little dram in it’s own right, but aged it’s pulled on a whole new persona that’s even better than it’s spry youthful self. They’ve done a nice job with this one and has me even more excited for an aged release of their OMG Rye.
To create this first official release of Valley Tan High West took a selection of barrels that had been aging their distillate for anywhere from 2-4 years and blended them together, but like this whiskey their barreling process was very much non-traditional. 90% of the whiskey spent it’s 2-4 years in large 52 gallon ex-bourbon barrels (2nd fill) and the other 10% spent it’s 2-4 years in new 30 gallon charred white oak barrels. Is this how it’ll be in future batches? Maybe, maybe not, but for now this is what we get and what we get is pretty interesting.
High West Valley Tan Review
Non chill-filtered (NCF)
Natural Color (NC)
Age: 2 years
Distiller: High West
Mashbill: 85% oats and 15% malted barley
It has a heady grain fueled aroma speckled with notes of fruit, red licorice, spice, citrus, alcohol and saw dust. There is a tequila like character lounging in the background along with some light notes of vanilla and antiseptic.
Soft and sweet it’s a bit of a different experience from the nose. Fruity with notes of blueberries and apricots followed by notes of vanilla, grains, spice, Juicy Fruit gum and saw dust. Not wickedly complex but nice in it’s own weird way.
Medium length it’s heavy on the vanilla with notes of banana, spice, simple syrup and cotton candy showing up along the way.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Feels like if they had added even a bit more of the 2 year stuff it would have been so grain heavy it would have throw it off. So it is balanced, but just. Medium body with a smooth slick texture that carries a bit of heat.
I like it, but I don’t love it. This is High West’s first major release of their own aged spirit and it’s exciting to see what’s going on, but I’m a little let down by how light it is and that’s definitely from being stored in the used cooperage. It’s a unique light and fruity dram from start to finish, but I just can’t help but wonder what would it would taste like if it had been aged in full sized, new charred barrels. I know Mr. Perkins is a fan of experimentation and while I’m not holding my breath for that execution in particular this does make me excited for what comes next from the boys in Park City.
SCORE: 79/100 (C+)