High Wire Distilling Co. Rye Whiskey

100% Heriloom South Carolina Abruzzi Rye

Back in February, I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina for a hockey tournament of all things. I expected a lot of downtime between games and allowed myself an extra day for exploration. When planning a trip to a new city, I like to look to the James Beard Award nominees, and sure enough, High Wire Distillery has been nominated a few times. I purchased my plane tickets and booked a tour for myself.

My only previous exposure to High Wire was merely a passing glance at a Jack Rose tasting some years back. I never gave them a shot. In all my ignorance, I simply wasn’t interested in yet another craft bourbon. This trip allowed me to sample their spirits and, more importantly, learn about the distillery and their craft.

I’ll do a deep dive for a blog post in the future but for now, onto the whiskey. I sampled everything available, taking a break for lunch between the rye tasting and the bourbons. Up first is their “New Southern Revival” Rye Whiskey made with 100% raw, Abruzzi rye.

Distillery: High Wire Distilling Co.

Region: Charleston, South Carolina.

ABV: 45%.

Age: NAS. Noted as “At least 18 months” on their tasting menu.

Cask type: New Charred Oak. Charl level 3.

Price: $45.

Color: 1.2, Chessnut. Natural Color. No chill filtration.

Tasting Notes

Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 15+ minutes of rest. Dilution was added for the second half of the tasting with an additional rest of half an hour. This review encompasses my initial impressions while at the bar.

Nose: The cereals are front and center. A lovely oak backbone with molasses syrup sweetness. Far less herbal than I expected for a 100% rye. There is a slight grassy quality but it’s not overt. A drop of water boosts these aromas and brings out the rye toast with a touch of mint jelly.

Palate: The proof here hurts the texture a bit and a comparison with a single cask selection, confirmed that for me. Cinnamon and clove baking spices. Rich, oaky, and full of flavor despite the proof. Where water helps the nose, it’s also lending a hand here on the palate. It punches up the cereals to another degree. Orange zest, grapefruit oil, and full-on pineapple mint now.

Finish: Caramelized sugars cloy to the sides of your palate. There’s a hint of maple syrup here before some tannins begin to dry your palate. Pleasant, if a bit plain. “Polite” as my bartender described it. The finish is brief, but it left me eager for another sip.


For a first impression of a new distillery, I’m quite keen on this Abruzzi rye. While not overly exciting, it is unique enough to sit alongside other ryes on your shelf. I would prefer this over some other popular options, but when comparing it directly to, let’s say, Wilderness Trail, I think the Kentucky rye would come out on top for me.

It’s interesting how even diluting a 45% ABV whiskey can reveal another dimension of flavor. Revealing the grapefruit note excited me for the whiskey’s potential. The acidity in this whiskey is quite enjoyable. This would make an incredible cocktail bottle that is also a nice, neat sipper.

Final Score: 84