Midwinter’s Night Dram (Act 8 Scene 3)

As we swing into the single digit (and lower) temperatures here in Maine, an auspiciously-timed bottle release finds it’s way to my bar.  High West’s Midwinter’s Night Dram is helping close out 2020 and bring on the brisk winter air it would seem.  Let’s dig into this year’s release and see if this finished rye whiskey will help keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.


John H.




December 22nd, 2020

Continuing on my path of reviewing finished whiskeys for the closing of 2020 I’m taking a look today at High West Distillery’s Midwinter’s Night Dram (Act 8 Scene 3).  This is a blend of straight rye whiskeys that has been finished in French oak Port barrels that clocks in at 98.6 proof.

It may seem a little muddy reading “a blend of straight whiskeys” on the label, but really this is just their Rendezvous Rye which is the well-known 95/5 (rye/malted barley) straight rye whiskey from MGP as well as an 80/20 (rye/malted rye) straight rye whiskey from High West Distillery.

Today’s offerings from High West don’t include the [famed] aged stock of yesteryear’s offerings; however, last year’s Midwinter’s Night Dram rated well for me and I think they have dialed in the blending of their own distillate to the point where future offerings should have plenty of potential.

This year’s release comes along with a new set of tasting notes and discussion points from the distillery.  When cruising the press info from High West I found this bit I wanted to share:

Greetings good gentles and ladies. At High West, we consider whiskey an indispensable part of making it through the long cold winter. One taste of A Midwinter Night’s Dram alongside a cozy fire will surely transport you to a dreamlike state. This limited release whiskey is a sumptuous marriage of our Rendezvous Rye finished in both port and French oak barrels.

High West Distillery

The press info goes on with tasting notes that are actually really fun to read.  High West always does a great job with their marketing in my opinion, and that goes right down to the labels on their handsome old-timey looking bottles as well as the words printed on the labels.  The fit and finish of this product is spot on.  But that’s enough about the look, let’s see how this year’s Midwinter’s Night Dram tastes!

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Sweet jammy syrup backed with a hint of spice. There’s an almost maple syrup quality to this at first smell, and it evolves into a deeper bit of rye spice and dark currant jam. A nice structure of oak. Spice.

Taste – Medium mouthfeel. Sweet jammy rye bread. I like the overall depth of flavor. There’s an up-front layer of fruit that backs off to syrup, spice, oak, and circles back around to fruit again.

Finish – Longer side of medium. Some caramel sneaks in there and mingles with the fruit. Near the end a touch of mint appears, albeit very mild.  The fruit wears off and leaves an impression of the Port finish at the very end, which is nice.

The Bourbon Finder Grade: B

Final thoughts…

This is another good release by High West.  I think they have done a great job building this product into something that fans will seek out each year, and they’ve also created something that carries itself nicely.  For me, colder weather does inspire sipping of rye whiskey, and the Midwinter’s Night Dram fits the bill perfectly.

The dark fruit and rich caramel in this pour appeal nicely to the bourbon lover in me, but that warm rye spice and touch of mint on the back of the palate bring this one home in a way that definitely makes the rye drinker in me smile.  While I think there is room for improvement here–I’m still buying this one every year if the quality holds steady.

Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

Share this