Northern California has long been a bastion for explorers, trailblazers and scofflaws drawn to its rugged beauty, brooding intrigue and boundless possibility. A hotbed of illegal distillation during prohibition, Northern California bootleggers set up clandestine stills everywhere imaginable. Prohibition agents even discovered a still hidden within the hollowed out base of a giant redwood, and padlocked the tree with a sign that said, ‘Closed for one year in violation of the National Prohibition Act.’
Today, 84 years since that hollowed out Redwood was padlocked, Redwood Empire was established with a commitment to craft distinctive whiskeys inspired by the rugged landscape and enduring spirit of its
Northern California home. Redwood Empire’s state-of-the-art distillery was built from the ground up on the site of a former apple processing plant in rustic west Sonoma County, California. At its centerpiece is an innovative, continuous micro-column still custom-built by Headframe Stills of Butte, Montana.
Dubbed the ‘finicky diva’ by Head Distiller, Jeff Duckhorn, this highly versatile and unique still is central to the production of Redwood Empire’s whiskeys. Head Distiller Jeff Duckhorn joined Redwood Empire’s parent company, Purple Wine + Spirits, in 2011 initially as a cost accountant. However it was Jeff’s impressive knowledge and enthusiasm for craft brewing compelled proprietor, Derek Benham, to include him as part of the original distillery planning team. Eager to follow his passion and expand his role, Jeff accepted the position of Assistant Distiller in early 2015 and was mentored under former Head Distiller, Matt McCann, and consulting distiller, Justin Aden. In January 2016, when his aptitude proved well on-par with his artistry, Jeff was promoted to Head Distiller where he championed Redwood Empire’s uncommon rye-bourbon blend and the further expansion of the distillery.
Redwood Empire’s proprietary blend of house-distilled and port barrel-rested rye whiskeys includes mature stocks of four, five and eleven-year-old bourbon aged in classic, high-char American oak casks. Rye-forward and 90-proof, its full body is complemented by subtle, spicy notes and an indulgent vanilla-caramel finish.
Redwood Empire American Whiskey (90 proof)
Visual: Medium orange-gold.
Nose: Welcoming rye spice overlaid with oak char and light malt sweetness.
Taste: Immediate bourbon-like character that soon passes into a toasty even-tempered rye character. Very smooth, easy-going and quaffable.
Finish: Medium long with the rye character leading the finale.
Overall: An excellent whiskey that works equally well on its own or used in classic cocktails. Try it in an old-fashioned or Manhattan. It’s a GSN office favorite.
GSN Rating: A
For more information go to: Graton Distilling