Drinking Local: High West Distillery, Park City, UT

A few years ago, if you’d told me I’d look forward to visiting Utah because of the breweries, I’d have told you (kindly) that you were nuts. Utah has this rep for being dry and… polygamist.


But then again, I’m a snowboarder, and we always look for something bigger and better than what we’ve already ridden. So after years of Warren Miller movies and poring over issues of Transworld Snowboarding, when a friend of mine invited me to check out Sundance, I was ready.

That was back in 2009, when Utah wasn’t exactly a fun place to hang. Sure, the riding was good- Sundance resort is a major piece of action- but otherwise not so much. In 2009, Utah still charged folks a membership fee to enter a bar. You had to sign a lil’ piece of paper and get a card or summat to even enter a bar, in fact. My friend Josh pretty much had to say I was his wife for me to even be allowed to enter. (More on why that’s patently absurd later…)

But then I was introduced to Wasatch and Squatter’s. I sampled Nitro Cream Ale and Jalapeno Cream Ale. And Evolution Ale. And Heart of Darkness. And Fifth Element. And 559. And Chasing Tale Ale. They were good- rich, full-bodied beers with maybe a little less alcohol in them than what I was used to back East, but so flavorful that it was hard to care. And every year since I’ve gone back to sample them (particularly the Nitro Cream Ale, which you obviously can’t ship), and bring a few home- my reenactor dad loves 1st Amendment Lager, and his Polygamy Porter tshirt. “Take some home to your wives!” Gotta love it.

And now I’ve tried the local whiskey. Things will never be the same.

High West Distillery in Park City has turned this whiskey appreciator into a whiskey lover. The slightly sweet, very flavorful, intense, sippable Double Rye! whiskey is a blend of straight ryes at 46% ABV.

Each bottle is numbered by batch and by bottle, and the distilling apparatus- all shiny and sniffable- is right there on the premises, working away. It may not be strictly Scottish, but it is so very, very good.

I’d been walking by it for a year or two and decided to take the plunge and buy two bottles- after which it only made sense to sample a bit. And now I have a problem, because I was going to give these bottles away, but now I really want to open one. With the right company, of course.

Clearly, I’ll just have to go back. After all, High West has a peach vodka as well.

And then there’s the wineries my friends out there keep talking about…

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