Welcome to the eighth installment of our regular Whisky Under Fifty reviews, where we review a different whisky (or whiskey) that you can buy for less than £50! If you’d like to know more about why we’re doing this series, read our introduction post here. Today’s whisky is Sonoma Distilling Co American Rye Whiskey.
Sonoma County, California is probably better known for its wines than its spirits. But there are a handful of craft distilleries out to change that idea. Sonoma Distilling Co, founded by San Fransicoan Adam Speigel in 2010, was one of the very first in the county. Based in the heart of wine country, it’s little wonder that the distillery’s focus has been on locally sourced ingredients and reflecting the terroir of the Bay Area.
Sonoma Distilling Co use non-GMO grains, sourced from California wherever possible. They also use direct-fire heated alembic stills, which are trickier to use but offer huge flavour potential. Each of their whiskeys is small-batch produced, and to date they’ve released some quite innovative stuff, including a black truffle infused whiskey and a cherrywood-smoked rye.
Here’s what we thought of their flagship rye whiskey. It’s been made from a base of 100% rye grain, 80% of which is unmalted Californian rye, and 20% malted rye from the UK. This was aged in char level 3 new American oak barrels, and it’s non age statement.
Instantly the rich leather and spice notes jump forward. Hint of dark cherries, some wood polish, black forest gateau and anise. Dark rye bread aromas throughout with a sprinkle of white pepper.
Walnuts and toasted pecans at the fore, followed by caramel and oodles of black pepper spice, cloves and a tingle of chili heat at the front. A heavy but pleasant char note.
Medium length. Chewy, spicy and full of those lingering toasty, nutty flavours.
This is certainly a unique dram, and definitely a must try if you’re a fan of big, bold rye whiskey. The addition of the malted rye in the mash bill adds a lovely sweet fruity flavour and texture. Pair with a cherry lambic beer to help soften out those wood tannins and bring out the fruity notes.
Flavour categories: Musty, Dry Spice, Baking Spice
Get it here for £47.00.
Drier, spicy craft whiskeys, particularly American whiskeys. If you’re a Michter’s or Hudson fan, this one could be for you.
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Want to read more reviews in the Whisky Under £50 series? Check out the previous review, Paul John Edited Indian Single Malt.