Sonoma County Cherrywood Rye

Review 2017-063 «Specifics» Rye whiskey (Batch 4) • Distilled from 80% unmalted Canadian rye, 10% malted barley smoked with cherrywood, and 10% unmalted Canadian wheat • 47.8% Alcohol • Matured for no less than 1 year in new, charred American oak barrels, finished in used barrels • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sonoma County Distillery • Rohnert Park • California • U.S.A. • Locally available • Difficult to find (price ±€70) • Whiskybase #87324

STORY. Sonoma County Distilling Company was founded in 2010 by Adam Spiegel, born and raised in nearby San Francisco. To quote: “ “While working with great Master Distillers and Blenders over the years, I’ve honed my stills to continually raise the bar with each new product and batch. There are no “Masters” here per say; we’re just regular people striving every day to better themselves and their craft. I like to say we’re making whiskeys in a small way for a big world.” They try to adhere to traditional methods using direct-fired alembic copper pot stills and perform milling, mashing and fermentation all in-house. They use local organic non-GMO grains and new, American oak barrels from Minnesota and Missouri. Within their range they currently offer three types of rye, three types of bourbon and two types of wheat whiskey. This cherrywood rye whiskey is (and I quote again): “meant for those who seek out the flavors of a classic Manhattan cocktail in a distilled spirit“.


APPEARANCE. Distinctive and authentic design, colour of the contents is copper-like and is slightly wood-coloured.

NOSE. This is totally different compared to the “normal” rye version from Sonoma County. Very cheesy with lots of strawberry and vanilla ice cream, and along that yeasty notes. It is fresh and fruity. Makes you think summer is not over yet. (water) Now it goes more towards ale, orange juice, and then more cream cheese, raspberry jelly, a hint of sweet dough and raspberry sweets. Not overly complex, but lovely.

TASTE. Slightly more spicy compared to the nose with spiced cherry, charred wood, white pepper, and then comes the cream and vanilla. (water) Also here water brings out notes of ale. It is slightly drying. Then comes some orange skin, spiced pumpkin, dill, a hint of coriander, more cherries, and milk chocolate. Cherry chocolate smoothie perhaps?

VERDICT. Very smooth, summertime fruity and not at all like the rye from the previous review. I think this is very well put together and original, yeah that’s the word, very original.

Recommended for convincing people that rye is not always very spicy.

Thanks to Norbert for the sample!

«What others say»

  • @Whiskybase: Mean score of 85.50 (4 votes)
  • @Whiskeywash: “If this is the kind of flavors made possible with 16th century technology, then alembic stills are still powerhouses in the distilling world” Score: 89/100 (+2 for ingenuity)
  • @Drinkhacker: “I’d use this freely as a cocktail base” Score: B+
  • @Thewhiskeyjug: “It’s not particularly exciting, complex or dynamic but what it delivers on, at the very least, is unique” Score: 77/100
  • @Scotchnoob: “A success” Score: Must try!
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