Whisky Reviews

Arizona High Spirits Whiskey

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A little while ago I was contacted by a company called Arizona High Spirits. While it was the first time I heard of them, I gather that they are best known for their prickly pear (cactus) vodka and liqueur (which I shall search high and low for – sounds delicious!), though they also make a chilli flavored vodka, spiced rum, gin and, of course, whiskey! Now, the whiskey is a rather new addition to their range – in fact, they’ve only made 1 batch and so far as I am aware it has not been released for general sale yet, as they wanted some expert opinions first (yikes!).

So, here I am, one of the lucky few to have been sent a bottle of their very first batch (on second thought, perhaps I should have left it unopened until my retirement, just in case they make it big!), and in return all I can give is my complete and utter honesty. I shall start, as I sometimes do, with the design of the bottle and label. By now it may go without saying that I am a bit fussy when it comes to design – not because I’m good at it so much as because I’m generally rather opinionated – and I’m sorry to say that the whiskey did disappoint in that regard. Having seen pictures of their other bottles, which all have the shape of a shorter and stouter absolute vodka bottle and very “clean” labels, I was surprised to find that the label on their whiskey looked rather… cheap. Now, I’m more than happy to put that down to the fact that this is a pre-release bottle, and hopefully it will be sorted out prior to the actual release of the whiskey. In short, the design of the label looks a bit tacky and quite messy (with no fewer than 4 fonts used) and the paper it was printed on seemed subpar.

Arizona High Spirits Whiskey

That, however, is of relatively little importance – what most of you will care more about is the smell and taste, and on that account it did fare better. On the nose, I picked up apricot (quite possibly in jam form), oak, vanilla, and two things that I was rather less sure of – banana and smoke, both very subdued. A pleasant nose indeed. The palate disappointed slightly, and this was in part based on what I picked up on the nose, and in part due to the wording on the label. With regard to the former, I couldn’t detect the same range and clarity of flavors – and if I were to have a stab at why, I’d say it needs to be aged for a bit longer (than 3 years) – as for the second, the label states that the whisky is smooth, whereas I found it just a little bit thin for my liking.

Arizona High Spirits Whiskey

The above was all written after my first tasting; a second and third tasting at a couple of days later changed my opinion somewhat. The characteristics of the nose I’m still pretty happy to describe as above, but the palate seemed better. The clarity of flavors was still a bit disappointing when compared to the nose, but I could make out a dried fruit sweetness and some woodiness, and it’s not quite as thin as I first thought – though I still wouldn’t describe it as particularly smooth, it ain’t bad at all.

In summary, then, I’d say that this is a very good first stab at making whiskey. I would personally like to try it again after a few more years of maturation, which I think would do it a lot of good, but if priced competitively and marketed right… I reckon it could do well enough even now. I certainly look forward to following the progress of Arizona High Spirits and their Whiskey in particular, so keep up the good work guys!

Color: Golden caramel.

Nose: Apricot (jam?), oak, vanilla, and hints of banana (dried) and perhaps smoke (very, very light).

Palate: Slightly on the thin side, young, dried fruits, some wood.

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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