High Wire Distilling Co. Tawny Port Finished Rye Whiskey

100% Heriloom South Carolina Abruzzi Rye

Part 2 of my High Wire review series and a follow-up to their standard rye whiskey.

I’m not opposed to finished whiskies. One of my favorite bottles of rye was finished even. Port, however, is a bit more polarizing. It’s either truly well done or an over-finished mess for me. I haven’t found that perfect balance bottle just yet.

This rye whiskey was finished for an additional 6 months in a freshly dumped tawny port barrel, making this rye just over two years old. I found a Tawny Port barrel in their warehouse, but no additional information besides the cooperage was marked on the barrel head.

Distillery: High Wire Distilling Co.

Region: Charleston, South Carolina.

ABV: 45%.

Age: NAS. Noted as “18 month old spirit” and “additional 6 month finish”.

Cask type: New Charred Oak. Charl level 3. Finished for 6 months in “freshly dumped tawny port barrels”.

Price: $54.

Color: 1.4, Tawny. 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: Syrupy and sickly sweet nose. Heavy-handed for a 6 month finish. Dark stone fruits of prunes and dates. The rye comes through with grassy, health-conscious, alfalfa sprout aromas. Behind the cereals and fruit is a spiced tobacco, clove cigarette scent I couldn’t escape. Water didn’t enhance my experience with this whiskey all that much. It did, however, make it smell exactly like grape bubble gum with a touch of anise with a molasses backbone.

Palate: Very port forward on the palate and tastes a bit better than it smells. Medicinal cherry cough syrup. Sweet and herbal with the rye cereals fading into the finish. Dilution helps with balance, softening the sweeter port flavors. Regardless, it is anything but subtle.

Finish: After my first sip, a wild coffee note appeared! Much needed grounding to the sweeter notes of the palate. Prune juice and a healthy “green machine” smoothie. Herbaceous, yet still medicinal leaning, throat lozenges. Aromatic woods like hickory and cherry wood. Dilution brought out more oaky tannins to the glass, working well to balance the cask finishing.


I don’t disagree with the finish, but it tastes more like a bottled cocktail. If you’re looking for a bottle like that, this one fits the bill. As an overly port-forward dram, you need to be in the mood for that syrupy sweetness. The nose would lead you to believe this may be over-saturated by the port finish. For me, it is tiptoeing right across that line. Thankfully there’s balance on the finish and the cereals certainly help elevate the complexity.

Solid dessert dram and the finishing certainly enhanced their standard bottle of rye.

Final Score: 86