Sonoma County Bourbon No. 3

"(Again) a good product from Sonoma with their typical raspberry rye, bread and spicy notes"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Sonoma Distilling Co. was founded in 2010 by San Francisco native Adam Spiegel after losing his job in the recession following 2008. They quickly gained acknowledgement for the quality of its rye and bourbon. Among their early release were rye, wheat  and bourbon whisky. The bourbon was made using three different styles (named West of Kentucky No. 1 to 3) that were respectively based on cherrywood-smoked barley, wheat instead of corn and a high rye content. The latter we have today for tasting. All these initial releases have ultimately lead to the standard range of today, which is a wheated bourbon, a 100% rye containing malted rye, a bourbon and rye containing cherrywood-smoked barley. Intriguingly, there is also a wheat whisky containing 20% rye on the pictures on their website, which I have not seen for sale anywhere in Europe. Talking about for sale, I really would like their current releases to be available in the Netherlands. Maybe an idea for 2020, importers?

Nose

I previously found Sonoma ryes very fruity, and this has got that expected fruitiness. Together with all kinds of breads and seeds. I get pumpkin seed bread dough, fresh raspberry juice, hint of oranges, fennel seeds and roasted sesame seeds. There is definitely some kind of active fresh wood, likely coming from the small barrels they are using, but it does not really bother the experience. corn is fighting to come to the front, brining spicy caramel, raspberry cookies with white pepper, and  more bread. It does get spicier (more white pepper) and I find it slightly more sour than for instance the bourbon or rye from FEW.

Taste

Like the nose, the rye seems the front runner. Rye bread, crackers, a mix of spices, seeds and again the fresh active wood. Becomes slightly more sour, like rye bread sourness, yoghurt and I find even a distant metallic note. Further development takes into a spicier and greener direction with more pepper and paprika. Reasonably long aftertaste with breads, seeds and spices. Good power on the palate.

Overall

I think I have not a product from Sonoma that was not at least interesting. This is no exception, albeit not their best so far. I has got the raspberry rye and pumpkin seed woody spice notes that I have come to associate with this distillery. I really have to taste some of their products. If only I could find them more readily available over here….

What others say

Whiskybase: 84.00 (12 votes) * @Distiller: 86/100 * @TheWhiskeyJug: 76/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
45%
Sweet <-> Spicy
65%
Nose 86.5%
Taste 86.5%
Balance 85%
Depth 86.5%
Finish 86%
Score