Liquid Campfire

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

It’s as if the peaty smoke from Islay, that windswept island off the west coast of Scotland, had drifted over an American distillery. The result is Campfire Whiskey ($62), a sweet American bourbon with the unmistakable iodine-laced smoky accents of an Islay single malt. Fittingly, it comes from High West Distillery, located in the Old Town section of Park City, Utah, where the Wild West has settled down with art galleries and fine dining restaurants, for this is a modern take on three of our oldest spirits.

Specifically, Campfire is a unique combination of bourbon distilled from a 75 percent corn mash bill, then blended with a 95 percent straight rye whiskey and mixed with an Islay single malt. Both the bourbon and the rye come from the old Seagram’s distillery in Indiana, and all three of the spirits have a minimum age of five years.

Whether straight or on the rocks, the first sensation is that of a medium-strength bourbon but then, almost immediately, a waft of sweet smoke—or more precisely, the aroma of a mesquite campfire—curls up from the glass, followed by its very distinct but gentle presence on the palate. The flavors of the smoke-laced bourbon-rye blend linger long after the last swallow, and like the glowing embers of a campfire, provide welcome warmth for a crisp evening. (www.highwest.com)

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