Redwood Empire Whiskey: Grizzly Beast Bourbon And Rocket Top Rye

Derek Benham founded Redwood Empire Whiskey in 2011, and now the distillery is releasing its first ever bottled-in-bond products. Today the team includes Master Distiller Jeff Duckhorn, the “accountant gone rogue,” and Head Distiller Lauren Patz, formerly of Spirit Works Distillery, among many others. In addition to making whiskey, Redwood Empire has also partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every bottle of whiskey sold.

“I’ve been a judge with the American Distilling Institute for the last five years,” says Patz. “Texture plays a large role in the quality of the product, as well as complexity and building brand loyalty and trust through high quality products coming from your distillery. I think Redwood Empire is doing an incredible job with all three.”

Once a quarter the team experiments with new mash bills. Both of these whiskeys are blends of 26 barrels.

Redwood Empire Bottled in Bond Rocket Top Straight Rye Whiskey $79.99/750 ml

This was distilled in the Spring of 2016 and it consists of 87% rye, 7% malted barley, 6% wheat on a continuous column still. The team knew early on they were going to do a lot of Bourbon, and by that time they had dialed in the mash bill, techniques, and the still. They wanted to find something that was unique to them but also thoughtful, restrained, and delicate.

From the press release: Straight rye, aged minimum five years in 53-gallon American White Oak barrels, primarily toasted and charred to level 3. With a high percentage of rye, the result are aromas of sandalwood, cloves, parsnip, and dry leaves with a savory palate of rich malt, black pepper, coffee grounds, and leather. Rocket Top is named for the 365-foot coastal redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. 

Maggie’s Notes: Floral nose. Definite spice balanced with floral and candy notes.

Redwood Empire Bottled in Bond Grizzly Beast Straight Bourbon Whiskey $79.99/750 ml

This is also a blend of 26 barrels with a mash bill of 69% corn, 22% rye, 5% malted barley, 4% wheat at 100 proof. 

From the press release: Straight Bourbon whiskey, aged minimum five years in 53-gallon American White Oak barrels, primarily toasted and charred to level 3. Aromas of plump raspberry, brown sugar and cinnamon-spiced walnuts open into a rich, full mouth of salted caramel, buttermilk, and orange zest. Grizzly Beast gets its name from two giants: Grizzly Giant, a giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park, and Mattole Beast, a massive 375-foot coastal redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. 

Maggie’s notes: Creamy vanilla and fruits on the nose. creamy mouthfeel with notes of papaya and cinnamon. Highly recommended.

California whiskeys are becoming increasingly common. Read my latest stories about Wine Country Women and Blinking Owl Distillery.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

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