High West Whiskey in the Summer
There's never a bad season to savor whiskey. We love visiting Park City, Utah every few years, always in the summer. If you've experienced the mountains of northern Utah, you'll understand why it's our favorite time to visit. The mountain sides are lush and green and the fish are biting furiously in the rivers and lakes. Two summers ago, we stayed in an RV park about 20 minutes north of Park City in the small town of Coalville. We chose the location because of the Weber River running through the park as well as our desire to explore the Uinta Mountains during this trip. We planned on spending a day in Park City as well but had a few extra days to explore, and when we found out one of our favorite whiskey's, High West Whiskey, had a new distillery that was open to the public, we couldn't wait to make the quick drive to Wanship.
High Desert Whiskey Tasting
Some might question my definition of the desert if I believe a destination in northern Utah to be classified as a desert location. I've lived in the high Nevada desert half my life and the Wanship, Utah mountains closely resembled the rural Nevada mountain ranges I called home...only slightly more green and lush. Wanship sits at 5,925 feet but is a higher latitude on the hemisphere than the central Nevada mountains I grew up in, so the snow fall is deep and the spring and summer runoff quenches the sage brush dotting the hillsides plentifully. My family of four-my husband and two young boys (yes the distillery is family friendly)-visited the High West Whiskey Distillery in late July. The temperatures were warm in the direct sun, but under the shade of the rustic porch awnings, the weather was perfect for gazing at the never ending mountain ranges and sampling the barrel aged whiskey varieties.
Getting to the Distillery
To get to the distillery, not to be confused with the restaurant/bar in Park City, you head north on I-80 from Park City to Exit 155, which is State Route Road 32. You're going to take a left off the exit, and then another left on Old Lincoln Highway. I feel like these roads should have a country song named after them...
The drive through Wanship is charming. It's the kind of small, rural town you don't want to leave. So enjoy the short drive down Old Lincoln Highway to the entrance to Blue Sky Road, where you'll pass through a guard station for the Blue Sky Ranch and High West Distillery. Mind your P's & Q's and the guard will let you through. There's a large parking lot, where you will leave your car, and wait for the Distillery shuttle in the small but comfortable shuttle station. We waited about 10-15 minutes...just long enough for my boys to get a couple of good fights in.
The shuttle driver looked like he'd stepped out of an old western movie, except for his Ray-Ban's. It was a quick ride up a steep, windy road to the distillery and the driver filled us in on the history of the area and the scenery. Extremely relaxing and beautiful, but I'll admit I enjoyed the ride a little more on the way down being on the inside lane away from the edge of the road.
Arriving at the Distillery
We could not pick our jaws up off the driveway asphalt when we arrived at the distillery. Not only is the nature and architecture breathtakingly beautiful, the ambience perfectly captured the spirit of the American West. It truly felt like a step back in time to an old cowboy saloon, minus the buzzing flies and gunfights. We wandered around the property taking it all in for about fifteen minutes. I could not get enough pictures of the stacked whiskey barrels lining the walkways.
We eventually made our way to the restaurant and put our name on the waiting list for lunch, where we were quickly seated at a lovely outdoor table.
High West Whiskey Tasting
My husband and I shared the whiskey sampler and each ordered a draft beer. We planned on hanging out long enough to walk off the buzz before we had to drive back to our Coalville camp. Plus, being that it's in Utah, the whiskey samplers were small and sharing them only allowed for a few sips of each whiskey. The whiskey is perfect. I am not personally a whiskey connoisseur (I prefer beer and red wine) but my husband knows good whiskey and High West is always his whiskey of choice.
My husband ordered a sandwich entree, I had a steak salad, our older son ordered a hamburger, and our four year old ordered a side of pasta. Everything was absolutely delicious. No complaints whatsoever. I'm not a food critic, but we did own a restaurant for twelve years and my husband is a chef, so we know good food. However, after being in the industry for so long, we aren't overly picky either. Food service is hard work and we are always just happy to be fed by someone else. Especially if we are sitting in the mountains sipping fine whiskey with our meal. It was literally one of the best meals and experiences we have ever had. The only thing that would have made it better is if Clint Eastwood had walked in and Johnny Cash was performing live...
So Much More Than Whiskey...
Although the whiskey is enough, the distillery has so much more to offer than whiskey tasting and tours. When you visit, make sure to take a walk around the entire property. There's a horseshoe pit in the back with the most majestic Uinta views. It's a great place to work off the whiskey buzz.
They also do a Sunday brunch with live music which would be absolutely epic.
A bucket list item for my family is to stay at the new Auberge Resort, The Lodge at Blue Sky, which is just down the road from the High West Distillery. I told my husband we need to start saving so we can go stay there, preferably in the fall when the air is just starting to get crisp and the leaves are barely turning orange and yellow. Their rooms are all stunning and everything Auberge does is nothing short of amazing.
Experience High West Whiskey
You don't have to go to Park City or Wanship to experience High West Whiskey. Check your local liquor shop-there's a good chance you can find this delicious beverage local. High West has also partnered with Ballast Point and created the most delectable brew, Western Standard Barrel Aged Beer. It is hard to find so if you happen to get your hands on a six pack, savor the brew that's aged to perfection in High West Whiskey barrels.
Have you been to the distillery? Leave a comment and let me know what you loved the most about your visit. And enjoy this short video we put together of the pictures and videos from our too short trip to High West Distillery.