High Wire Distilling Co. White Wine Finished Rye Whiskey

Matthiasson Wines, Nappa White Wine Finish

Part 3 of my High Wire review series and the final rye whiskey review.

Upon arriving at High Wire, I was immediately drawn to a wall of whiskey, roughly 10 feet tall. All of their core releases were available including some distillery-only single barrel releases. The first few photos in my camera reel were just bottle shots!

In the corner were a pair of single barrel releases. The unique barrel finish of this rye initially caught my eye. In my head, I was already going home with a bottle, but I had hoped it was available to sample at the bar at the very least. Having no real knowledge of High Wire, I went into my tasting with an open mind. I did not expect much, but my hopes were still high for this white wine finish.

Distillery: High Wire Distilling Co.

Region: Charleston, South Carolina.

ABV: 56.3%.

Age: NAS.

Cask type: New Charred Oak. Charl level 3. Finished for ~11 months in Matthiasson Wines, Nappa Valley white wine barrel.

Price: $60.

Color: 1.5, Auburn. 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, as well as a bottle purchased and tasted at home.

Nose: Softer fruit notes compared to the heavy port finish. White peaches, green apples, and tart white table grapes. There’s no hiding the youth with some astringent alcohol notes. While the cereals come through on the nose, water intensifies those aromas. There’s also this raw, green, and almost herbal sugar cane smell. It’s not processed sugar but a freshly cut and peeled chunk of sugar cane. Oatcakes and toasted rye flour. Imagine the roux at the start of a bechamel.

Palate: Nectarines, more peach notes, and unripe melon. There’s a slight tropical side to it with some grilled pineapple flavors. Behind the fruits is an herbaceous bubblegum. The texture is much better at cask strength. More velvety and clings to the palate. Dilution boosts unpleasant tannic bitterness.

Finish: Summer sweet black tea with peaches and lemons. Bitter citrus peel and expressed oils. Fruit-forward, fresh espresso pull. The lingering slightly bitter tea flavor encourages another sip, especially on a hot summer day. I’m imagining a spiked tea highball with this bottle. Adding a touch of water does not change much to the whiskey. It perhaps heightens the citrus notes a bit more on the finish.


Of the two flights I tasted through, this whiskey was my favorite of the day.

The cask finish enhanced their standard rye despite having no other flavor grains in the mash bill. The whiskey doesn’t feel like a “bottled cocktail” but rather a whiskey you could enjoy neat with the added benefit of enhancing, say a Sazerac.

That astringency from the ethanols gives away the youth and it’s a negative quality that I need to acknowledge. It’s much more present in my fresh cracked bottle than in the sample I had at the bar. A bit more time might be needed for it to open up further.

With that being said, for a craft whiskey showcasing a unique finish, this is still worth buying in my opinion.

Final Score: 88