Here we have a bourbon that’s not a bourbon: High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select. And let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. While technically true a bourbon stops being a bourbon if it’s finished in a used barrel, like these Barrel Select picks are, it definitely doesn’t stop being delicious. It can, sometimes, become even better.
The barrel this bottle came from, was picked by K&L and it was finished in an Armagnac barrel for 1 year and 9 months. That’s a long time. It’s long enough for a typically low-spice whiskey to pick up some bigger spice notes synonymous with Armagnac, and that’s exactly what’s happened here.
High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select – Details and Tasting Notes
Distiller: MGP + Undisclosed (KY – likely Barton)
Mash Bill: 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley (MGP) | 84% Corn, 8% Rye, 8% Malted Barley (Other)
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 5+ Years
Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Oak, Manuka honey, dried dark fruit, complex spice, toffee, vanilla, cocoa and light touches of fresh pastries, vegetal notes and grain.
SPICE!, oak, dried dark fruit, cocoa, honey, leather, nuts, vanilla, citrus zest, brown sugar and a strong grapey Armagnac profile.
Long -> Grapey dark fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon spice and oak.
BALANCE, BODY and FEEL
Great, full-heavy, oily.
High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select – Overall
Aroma is sweet and heavy with a solid oak character but a bit of water adds a butteriness to it that takes this to the next level and makes me want a room that smells like this in my house – it’s warm and inviting like fresh baked goods; Palate hits the same, but picks up a bit of menthol as it opens and, with water, a larger dose of brown sugar and cocoa wafts through on the heavy spice currents; Finish is sweet and oaky and spicy and a wonderful experience to end with.
I’m in love with this whiskey. This is the perfect fusion of everything I love about Bourbon and Armagnac together in one bottle. High West should make this a regular thing…
High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select – Final Thoughts and Score
This is the best version of the HWAPB I’ve had. I have a rye finished cask, an ex-bourbon cask finish, a manhattan cask finish and of course the regular High West American Prarie Bourbon but this seems to have found a balance and a depth that nothing else has. Screw cognac, rum or sherry casks, bourbon appears to be best served by Armagnac casks.
I’m beyond over-the-moon that K&L picked this ex-Armagnac finished High West American Prarie Bourbon Barrel Select because it’s something that folks in my whiskey circle have been talking about for years: Armagnac. Outside of whiskey we tend to gravitate towards Armagnac because the oak-forward similarities are hard to miss and this marries together the best of both seamlessly. I wish I’d bought more.
High West American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select Review
A seamless mix of the best of bourbon and the best of Armagnac in a single amazing bottle. I should have bought a case!
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