If you live in Utah, and have yet to visit High West Distillery and Saloon in Park City, then hie your ass there ASAP for food and drink.

I first heard about High West in late 2008 when I saw a bottle of their Rendezvous Rye whiskey at the State Liquor Store … a couple weeks after that, at a friend’s martini party, cocktails were being made with their Vodka 7000′; and in my opinion the vodka is even better than better known (and more expensive) brands like Grey Goose, Chopin, and Belvedere.

High West Rendezvous Rye

High West Rendezvous Rye

I know that the concept of a distillery in Utah may be a bit hard for some people to grasp, but their spiritual output (groan, bad pun, I know, but I couldn’t resist) is definitely mighty tasty.

The food ain’t half-bad either as I discovered this evening when I went up for appies and cocktails for a friend’s birthday celebration at the newly restored distillery and saloon, which were converted from a 100 year-old livery stable and the Victorian house next door.

The five-cheese fondue (a variety of Swiss cheeses) is delightfully creamy, pungent, fatty and filling … exactly what you would expect from a fondue. The small plates were incredible, from the selection of cured meats—bunderfleisch, Speck (Tyrolean ham, very similar to prosciutto), and a melt-in-your-mouth delicious duck prosciutto—to the crostini with roast tomatoes, arugula and a whiskey cheddar or smoked trout.

Of course, a trip to a distillery would not be complete without a sampling of the house spirits, which for me this evening started with the High West BouRye (a blend of 10 year-old straight bourbon and 12 year-old straight rye whiskies), followed by their more well-known Rendezvous Rye, which I’ve enjoyed sipping on occasion since discovering that first bottle in 2008; both served neat, of course.

The rest of the evening was spent sipping Park City’s finest tap water and chatting with friends about the requirements for getting a green card, new discoveries in the treatment of Hepatitis C, trout fishing, and of course (being Park City, after all) skiing, skiing, and … oh yeah … skiing.

I will definitely be returning for a full dinner at the earliest opportunity.

According to the staff, the distillery is open for tours most afternoons (call first to verify), and of course is open daily for lunch, après-ski, and dinner.

Highly recommended.