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Tag: High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram

A Midwinter Night’s Dram Rye Whiskey Review

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a store and seen A Midwinter Nights Dram sitting on the shelf, the alluring packaging commanding my almost undivided attention while the $80 price tag stares me in the face saying, “I dare you.”

I’m not typically a gambling man. Sure, I’ve pulled the trigger on bottles I probably shouldn’t have, but in all honestly I’ve always preferred what I call the sure bet. That is, opting to purchase a cheeseburger and a beer instead of succumbing to the temptation of going overboard making across-the-board and trifecta-box bets because I have cash burning a hole in my pocket. Anyone who has been to the track with me knows this is an ongoing dilemma that I both embrace and embellish. I’m getting off-topic, but see you in April, Keeneland.

To me, this bottle was a gamble I wasn’t willing to make. I had attempted to split bottles of this with others (to save my money for fancy Scotch) but never actually got around to actually doing it. Thankfully, Sam (@bourbonchaser) was kind enough to send me a very stout sample of this whiskey to try it out.

Thank you Sam, you saved me from having to make a potential confession on a random Sunday morning years into the future. You’re a true gentleman.

The Whiskey

High West A Midwinter Nights Dram Bottle

High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram is a blend of two straight rye whiskeys finished in Port and French oak barrels and bottled at 98.6 proof.

The two mash bills used are 95% Rye / 5% malted barley for the 6 year rye from MGP in Indiana, and 80% rye / 10% corn / 10% malted barley for the 16 year rye from Barton Distillery in Kentucky. I don’t know the exact ratio of the blend, but more details can be found on High West’s website here.

This sample is from Act 2.8, Scene 1405.

Tasting Notes

An extremely thick, rich vanilla nose harkens back to many older whiskeys. Not older in the sense of an age statement, but older as in produced decades ago. Very few contemporary whiskeys I’ve tried have the thick and creamy nose this has in full force. It’s beautiful.

Plums, berries, and more vanilla float out of the glass backed by a slight alcohol sharpness to produce a big and pleasant bouquet. The character of the MPG rye is an unmistakable presence, but instead of running wild as it does in many younger bottlings (think Willett 4yr FE Rye) it’s relaxed and complimentary.

The Port finish also plays prominent and complimentary role in this drama, imparting and amplifying a pleasant mixture of candied dark aromas. For me to say this is typical of the genre would be misleading as I am admittedly not well-versed in Port wines or finishes, but its cameo appearance is noticeable and a welcomed addition to an already fantastic narrative.

The palate entry begins warm and cozy, and settles evenly, incorporating an almost endless list of holiday spices and flavors you can spend abundant time pinpointing. Clove, cinnamon, and citrus (mostly dark orange) are prominent, but beyond that there are traces of cardamom, pepper, mint, and more.

I must note that as the whiskey has had ample time to mingle with air in an open glass, a faint sourness can be detected along with toasted, dry oak, but it’s not anything that would lead me to reach for a rotten tomato. It’s quite the opposite, actually. The oak throughout the palate doesn’t overpower the entire act; instead it lends to a complex and enjoyable, much wetter palate than your typical American rye.

A strong flavor of cola emerges toward the back of the palate and melts into the finish. Mint attempts to take its time moving off-stage, but overall it’s an abrupt conclusion that leaves a little more to be desired.

Comments

I can’t help but dream of what this whiskey would be if it had a finish that exudes as much intricacy as the bouquet and palate introduce. I won’t say that it would be a truly great whiskey, but I will gladly go on record to say it would be a fantastic pour to keep around whenever you want something as different as it is approachable.

As much as I’ve downed and ultimately equivocated notes on the finish, my lingering and general sentiments are less negative and more a result of wishful thinking. That’s a good thing. The imperative and honest comment is that every time my glass became almost empty I poured a little more in to keep the experience going. Continually wanting more is a certified mark of interest in my book.

I’m a little upset I didn’t gamble on this–I’d love to have a full bottle–but at $80 I can’t say its absence on my shelf is a tragedy. If you’re on the fence go for it, you won’t be disappointed. You might not be amazed, but you will certainly enjoy.

Cheers!

Grade: B

 

 

 

Whiskey Geekery: Quantifying The Variances of Whiskey Ratings To Find The Most Polarizing Dram

Just like you, I want to try all of the great whiskey I possibly can so I seek out new whiskeys with great reviews. That’s the easy part. I do, however, find it much more fun to enjoy whiskeys that seem to be all over the place in terms of reviews because they typically lead to great conversations and discoveries of variances in palates.

As we all know, whiskey ratings and reviews are a polarizing topic as there are very few whiskeys almost everyone agrees are great. And even in the instance that everyone agrees something is great, there’s always someone who argues in favor of something else they think is greater. Its a vicious cycle of circular subjectivity, and it’s fun.

So where do you find a whiskey to pick a fight with? Right here!

To compile this list, I sorted whiskey reviews by category which also makes for easy browsing. The categories are: Bourbon, Rye, Scotch (Highland / Speyside, Lowland, Islay, Island, Campbelltown), Irish, and Canadian.

I then filtered each list down to whiskeys that had 10 or more reviews to make sure there was no funny stuff. Each whiskey has an average score, a high and low score, and a point differential to show the variance of its highest and lowest score. Each table below is sorted by descending value of variance.

A shout out and thank you goes out to the good people over at reddit for keeping a spreadsheet of all community reviews, which made this post possible.

(Continue scrolling to view all categories and ratings)

Most Polarizing Dram award

(LARGEST OVERALL SCORE VARIANCE)

Bowmore Legend

Bowmore Legend (67 point variance)

Least polarizing dram award

(Smallest overall score Variance)

bruichladdich port charlotte an turas mor

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte An Turas Mor (6 point variance)

Highest overall single score

High West A Midwinter Night's Dram

High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram (100 points / 93 average)

HIGHEST overall Average score

William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller (96 points)

lowest overall single score

Bowmore Legend

Bowmore Legend (17 points)

LOWEST overall average score

Bowmore Legend

Bowmore Legend (64 points)

VIEW ALL RATINGS BY CATEGORY

Bourbon whiskey

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
W.L. Weller 12 40 62 33 87 95
Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel 10 44 45 81 89
Orphan Barrel Barterhouse 20 13 44 50 84 94
Knob Creek 9 year Small Batch 20 38 53 83 91
Four Roses Yellow Label 11 37 50 73 87
Jim Beam White Label 13 35 50 70 85
Bulleit Bourbon 29 34 59 81 93
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select 23 31 60 82 91
Four Roses Small Batch 32 28 66 86 94
Buffalo Trace 45 24 68 85 92
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 11 23 72 85 95
Jim Beam Black 8 Double Aged 11 22 65 79 87
Maker’s Mark 27 22 69 81 91
Old Grand Dad 114 24 22 72 87 94
Baker’s 107 14 21 69 83 90
Maker’s Mark 46 12 21 70 84 91
Elmer T. Lee 37 21 74 87 95
Old Weller Antique 107 51 21 75 88 96
Evan Williams Black Label 16 20 70 82 90
Old Grand Dad 100 Bottled in Bond 27 20 72 84 92
Elijah Craig 12 35 20 70 84 90
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 18 19 75 83 94
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel 29 19 78 88 97
Eagle Rare 10 36 18 75 85 93
Stagg Jr 25 18 76 87 94
Booker’s Bourbon 42 17 79 90 96
Eagle Rare 17 10 17 78 91 95
Wild Turkey Rare Breed 20 16 84 88 100
George T Stagg 2013 11 16 80 89 96
W.L. Weller Special Reserve 16 15 72 80 87
Russell’s Reserve 10 12 15 78 84 93
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2004 11 15 80 86 95
Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Lot B 10 15 79 89 94
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof 32 15 82 90 97
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel 11 14 77 86 91
Wild Turkey 101 28 14 77 87 91
Larceny Small Batch Bourbon 10 13 73 81 86
Four Roses Single Barrel 38 13 82 89 95
Black Maple Hill 12 12 75 80 87
Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof 14 11 86 92 97
Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, 2013 18 10 88 94 98
Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection (OBSF) 10 9 84 90 93
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 12 9 86 92 95
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon 15 10 9 90 94 99
Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch 20 8 84 89 92
William Larue Weller 10 7 92 96 99
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Rye whiskey

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Rittenhouse Rye 100 35 23 72 86 95
Sazerac Rye 17 16 75 85 91
High West A Midwinter Nights Dram 11 15 85 93 100
Willett 4 Year Rye 23 13 82 89 95
Bulleit Rye 26 12 80 85 92
High West Rendezvous Rye 20 12 83 90 95
Wild Turkey 101 Rye 12 10 80 84 90
High West Double Rye 15 10 82 87 92
Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye 13 10 85 90 95
Thomas H. Handy 10 10 88 94 98
Knob Creek Rye 10 8 80 84 88
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scotch: HIGHLAND / SPEYSIDE

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Clynelish 14 25 43 49 82 92
Cragganmore 12 31 35 60 80 95
Cardhu 12 20 34 55 76 89
Dalmore 12 26 31 60 78 91
Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask 64 27 69 86 96
Aberlour 10 19 26 60 79 86
Dalmore 15 15 26 64 81 90
Dalwhinnie 15 43 26 65 83 91
Balvenie 15 Single Barrel 44 26 70 88 96
Balvenie 12 Doublewood 73 24 68 82 92
AnCnoc 12 36 24 70 85 94
Aberlour 12 Double Cask Matured 34 20 72 84 92
Aberlour A’bunadh batch #39 13 20 74 88 94
Ardmore Traditional Cask Peated 21 19 68 79 87
Aberlour 18 14 19 74 87 93
Balvenie 17 Peated Cask 15 19 79 90 98
Benromach 10 15 18 77 85 95
Balvenie 12 Single Barrel First Fill 11 18 75 86 93
Aberlour 12 Non Chill Filtered 34 18 79 90 97
Aberfeldy 12 14 17 70 79 87
AnCnoc 16 12 17 76 86 93
Balvenie 21 Portwood 23 17 78 89 95
BenRiach 10 Curiositas 13 16 79 87 95
BenRiach 12 11 13 74 82 87
Aberlour 16 18 12 81 87 93
Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #3 11 12 85 91 97
Aberlour A’bunadh 19 11 83 90 94
Aberlour A’bunadh batch #45 11 10 86 91 96
Balvenie 17 Doublewood 12 9 81 87 90
Balvenie 12 Signature 11 7 81 84 88
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SCOTCH: LOWLAND

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Glenkinchie 12 19 36 55 79 91
Auchentoshan Valinch 31 34 60 84 94
Auchentoshan 12 25 21 65 79 86
Auchentoshan Three Wood 30 15 76 84 91
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scotch: ISLAY

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Bowmore Legend 16 67 17 64 84
Caol Ila 12 68 63 35 85 98
Ardbeg 10 107 55 40 86 95
Bowmore 12 38 42 48 75 90
Bowmore 15 Darkest 18 32 55 78 87
Bowmore 18 14 32 56 81 88
Bunnahabhain 12 66 32 63 86 95
Ardbeg Alligator 22 21 77 89 98
Ardbeg Galileo 30 19 78 89 97
Kilchoman Machir Bay 41 18 76 87 94
Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten 62 18 75 87 93
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 7 15 18 77 90 95
Ardbeg Uigeadail 99 18 80 93 98
Ardbeg Ardbog 29 16 80 90 96
Bruichladdich Rocks 21 14 75 83 89
Finlaggan Old Reserve 16 13 80 85 93
Ardbeg Corryvreckan 45 13 84 91 97
Bunnahabhain 18 17 12 82 90 94
Bruichladdich Black Art 2 18 11 84 89 95
Kilchoman Loch Gorm 10 9 83 88 92
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 12 8 85 88 93
Bruichladdich Octomore 4.2_167 Comus 10 8 90 93 98
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte An Turas Mor 16 6 82 85 88
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SCOTCH: ISLAND

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Highland Park 12 112 52 42 85 94
Talisker 10 84 51 44 87 95
Jura 10 18 40 54 76 94
Ledaig 10 19 39 55 81 94
Talisker 57° North 18 27 69 86 96
Tobermory 10 18 26 65 81 91
Scapa 16 16 26 67 82 93
Highland Park 18 45 26 74 88 100
Arran 10 18 25 65 84 90
Jura Superstition 24 23 65 79 88
Ledaig 7 peated sherry cask – /r/Scotch Community Cask 11 22 68 81 90
Jura 16 12 21 69 82 90
Talisker Storm 18 21 70 84 91
Tobermory 15 14 20 76 89 96
Highland Park 15 13 18 74 86 92
Arran 14 18 14 76 84 90
Talisker 18 18 14 80 89 94
Talisker Distiller’s Edition 2012 10 13 80 89 93
Highland Park 25 16 12 84 91 96
Talisker 25 10 7 87 91 94
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SCOTCH: CAMPBELLTOWN

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Springbank 10 31 33 60 84 93
Springbank 18 11 23 70 88 93
Springbank 15 23 21 70 86 91
Springbank 12 Cask Strength 23 16 79 89 95
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IRISH WHISKEY

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Redbreast 12 13 24 70 85 94
Jameson 14 15 69 76 84
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CANADIAN whisky*

Dram Total Reviews Rating Difference Lowest Rating Average Rating Highest Rating
Crown Royal Special Reserve 6 54 39 67 93
Crown Royal Black 5 30 55 76 85
Forty Creek Barrel Select 9 18 72 79 90
Lot No. 40 8 13 82 87 95
Forty Creek Confederation Oak 5 12 75 83 87
Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve 5 12 75 83 87
Alberta Premium Dark Horse 16 12 82 87 94
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* Canadian Whisky data based on 5 or more reviews due to lack of reviews