How High West is conquering the Australian whiskey scene

Australians love their bourbon and High West is the latest distillery on their radar, with the brand upping its presence Down Under.

Master Distiller Brendan Coyle was in Australia earlier this month to introduce trade and consumers to the brand, including hosting a dining experience at Hinchcliff House on October 24.

“I think High West is taking tradition and turning it on its head and that’s a good thing,” Coyle said.

“We’re not blue grass horse farms, and we’re not granddaddy’s rocking chair.  The beauty of not being bound by tradition is you can do some really innovative things.  The distilling industry is already a slow industry to change, and that’s because the very nature of how we produce our products is a very long term cycle, which doesn’t mesh with the ‘here today gone tomorrow’ trends of younger drinkers. 

“We enjoy pressing the boundaries of what whiskey is, and ultimately I think its great for the industry. Innovate or die, as they say.”

While bourbon is often associated with Kentucky, High West is located in Park City in Utah and is the world’s only ski-in distillery.

It became Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870 when it commenced production in 2007 and it aims to delivers innovative and delicious whiskies that pioneer a successful new paradigm for craft distilling.

The distillery was founded by David and Jane Perkins, who chose Park City because of David’s love of the Old West and Utah’s little-known whiskey history.

Many people don’t realise that Utah’s abstinent Mormons were once whiskey makers. As Mormon settlers travelled West in the 1800s, they used whiskey as currency and even built their own distilleries.

Australia’s thriving whiskey segment

While it is becoming an increasingly crowded market for whiskey in Australia, Coyle is confident locals will embrace his whiskies because of the distillery’s focus on innovation and complexity.

Expressions shared by Coyle at the Hinchcliff House dining experience included High West Double Rye, Bourbon and Campfire.

“Campfire is a great example of our distinctive style,” he said. “I would say even our staples are innovative, our Rye is the spiciest Rye on the market and our Bourbon high rye mash bills to lead with earthy complexity, not just sweet corn.”

Coyle said he regarded the on-premise as being key to growing the High West brand in Australia.

“The beverage space is going more and more experience driven,” he said. 

“So for us, talking with bartenders and servers and the individuals who are making the connection with the end consumer is critical.  You can’t just be on the shelf, you need to talk to the people and connect with them on a personal level.”

Making a mighty fine Old Fashioned doesn’t hurt either!

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Categories: Lifestyle