A trip to High West, Utah's only whiskey distillery, and a look at some of the hand crafted cocktails at Montage Deer Valley. featured post *tasteologie

A trip to High West, Utah's only whiskey distillery, and a look at some of the hand crafted cocktails at Montage Deer Valley.

October 6th, 2011

I started out thinking that my trip to Utah would be a dry one.  When they flew me up I still had my doubts, despite everyone at Montage Deer Valley telling me that while alcohol doesn't exactly flow freely in the state it does flow.  To my delight there were in fact both bars and cocktails.  There are even breweries (several) and distilleries (a couple).  While there are definitely some curiosities in the local laws concerning alcohol... limits on the amount of alcohol in draft beer, limits on the amount of alcohol in front of one person at a time, limits on certain establishments where the alcohol is hidden from view (behind a Zion curtain) ... they are only a little stranger than some of the blue laws in New England.  Anyone who has ever tried to buy a bottle of liquor in Connecticut after 9pm would certainly agree.

In the winter the hotel serves a Mocha Hot Toddy, which is perfect for curling up next to a fire.
They also serve two versions of their Alpine Squeeze, a refreshing cocktail of Ketel One Vodka, grapefruit juice, and a sweet Sauvignon blanc.
They also have a slightly rosier version made with pink grapefruit juice, vodka, and Lillet.
I became quite fond of Vista Lounge's pewter bar and did my best to work my way through their cocktail menu. The bartender insisted that I try the Smokin' High West. She even loaded it up with a ton of their smoked cherries which are soaked in Lagavulin. The smokey peatiness pervades the entire glass and gives a fantastic depth to what otherwise would be a very sweet drink. They use the High West Rendezvous Rye which is wild and rough around the edges giving this cocktail some serious bite. The rye didn't even travel very far as it's made right in downtown Park City, Utah.
In the morning the hotel dropped me off at the bottom of Park City's Main Street and I got to check out High West, the place responsible for the spirit.
In their short history they already have quite a few unique offerings.
A tasting was called for so I ordered up one of their in-house whiskey flights in the saloon attached to the distillery. The contraption on the bottle is part of a berg system which monitors and limits the size of the pours. The liquor license prohibits alcohol from being given away for free and every ounce must be accounted for. There is so much range between their silver whiskey (pictured on the left) to the playfully named Bourye on the right. They describe the silver whiskey as like tequila, but I found it still had some distinct whiskey traces and none of the agave after taste. It's made from locally grown oats and has a slightly softer rounder feel in your mouth. The Bourye is a blended bourbon and rye... the two marry well into a fine sipping whiskey.
Their copper still is proudly on display in the beautifully restored passage way between the saloon and the old carriage house.
They were busy brewing up the silver rye the day I visited.
They offer tours of the facility and it is decorated with lots of interesting pieces of the building's history and the whiskey's distillation process. Here is a look at the barrels in their charred state for bourbon making.
Those are the same kinds of barrels that the High West Silver Whisky OMG Pure Rye sits in for exactly 5 minutes in order to magically change it from moonshine into whiskey.
I concluded my visit to High West with a visit to their cafe before heading back up to Montage Deer Valley. They serve up a sourdough pretzel made from the spent grain of the mash. It's a great way to enjoy an early fall day in Park City... it let's you have your whiskey and eat it too.
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