California Rye for Texans in Need

While we were able to raise $5000 on the blog earlier this week for the Red Cross Harvey relief fund, watching the continued reports out of Houston are having an impact on all of us. In deciding how we could continue to donate to the efforts along the Gulf Coast, we decided to look at one of our newest incoming single barrel projects from an American distillery and dedicate all of the profits earned to the cause. Since we're mostly a group of Californians (although we're not excluding you out of state shoppers here!), I liked the concept of a California store selling a California-made whiskey to help our fellow Americans in need. With this new single barrel exclusive from Spirit Works, a small distillery in Sonoma County that makes all of its products entirely from scratch (grain to glass), we'll be donating 100% of our profits earned to the hurricane relief efforts. This is as close as it gets to drinking whiskey for charity.

The thing that first impressed me about Spirit Works, run by the husband and wife team of Timo and Ashby Marshall out of Sebastopol, is that they make all of their own grain neutral spirit in-house. It's a little known fact that most gin and vodka producers don't actually distill their own base spirits. They purchase it on the bulk market, then redistill it, flavor it, and water it down. Not at Spirit Works, however. Every spirit made by the company starts with the grain, which gets milled, mashed, fermented, and distilled in Sonoma. In the case of their outstanding rye whiskey, the resulting spirit is matured in traditional, charred, 53 gallon new American White Oak barrels just like it is in Kentucky. There's no quarter cask maturation and no attempt to skirt Father Time with clever ways to add color. It's the best craft whiskey I've tasted out of California that fits into the classic American whiskey idiom. 

Our exclusive cask was aged for two years and five months and proofed down to 45% ABV. On the nose it's a glorious and expansive aroma of caramel, baked apple, and cedar and the palate brings more vanilla, new oak, and subtle baking spices. It's not creamy or light like many of the Indiana-distilled products on the market, nor is it bold and herbaceous like some of the classic Kentucky expressions. It's not grainy or intensely rye dominated like some of the pot-distilled whiskies on the market, nor is it lacking the essence of rye. Spirit Works has managed to create a unique combination of all rye whiskey styles with a mellow textured, yet intensely-flavored addition to the genre, one that's even more concentrated when bottled as a solo act. The finish has notes of coconut from the oak and there's a bit of sweet honeycomb as well.

We should raise about $3000 for the Red Cross with the proceeds from this exclusive barrel, so if you're looking to help the world by drinking more whiskey, now is your chance:

Spirit Works "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #14-0084 Rye Whiskey $54.99 - Our first ever exclusive project with the Sonoma distillery, renowned for its grain-to-glass spirits.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll