Sonoma Cherrywood Rye is distilled here in California up in Sonoma County. As one of the early and well-known players in the craft whiskey scene here in the Golden State I’ve had my eye on them for a while. They’re a scrappy little shop that started small and has remained so, but I have to wonder if that’s to their benefit or their detriment.
In Sonoma County Distilling’s Words: Sonoma Cherrywood Rye
“Made with a base of rye grain, and complemented by wheat and a hint of California Cherrywood-smoked barley, this inventive spirit is meant for those who seek out the flavors of a classic Manhattan cocktail in a distilled spirit. Aged in new American oak barrels for no less than one year, the blend is rounded out with notes of dried figs, toasted almonds, brandied cherries and new leather. This is Cherrywood rye whiskey.”
“Craft Whiskey” has been around long enough for the novelty and excitement to fade out on the young spirit heavy whiskies put out by start-up distilleries. Most of the major players should be well past the point of using small barrels to “quick age” their whiskey and putting out super young stuff. Then again, maybe that’s the style they’re going for, to keep the young spirit alive and kicking. I don’t know their ideas and motives, all I know is what I taste which is in the Sonoma Cherrywood Rye review below.
Sonoma Cherrywood Rye Info
Region: California, USA
Distiller: Sonoma County Distilling
Mashbill: Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak (small barrels)
Sonoma Cherrywood Rye Review
Sawdusty craft oak, strawberry frosting, dilly clove-like spice, smoke, raw grain, spirity vanilla and bits of dried cherries, medicinal tones and Cola.
Sawdusty craft oak, mulling spice, raw grain, Grape Nuts, Cherry Fun-Dip and bits of citrus peel, spirity vanilla and cocoa.
Medium and dry fade of spirity vanilla, crafty oak, baking spice, grains and dried fruit.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Not balanced, medium body and a soft warm feel.
Sonoma Cherrywood Rye is an interesting whiskey. It’s not particularly exciting, complex or dynamic but what it delivers on, at the very least, is unique. Limited in depth but not wholly unpleasant it works fairly well in cocktails and brings a unique punch to an Old Fashioned or Manhattan due to its youthful spirity nature and that raw wood profile that’s so common in young craft whiskey. It doesn’t really make the cocktails better per-say, but it definitely makes them unique.
Of all their existing releases I see the most potential in this one if it was put in a standard sized barrel and allowed to age for at least four years. Months in small barrels are no match for what happens after years in a large barrel. It can’t achieve the same elegance gained through multiple seasons of oak expanding and contracting and the reactions between man-made spirit and earth-made oak. I hope all of these craft guys have plans for growth and expansion because the novelty of “being at the beginning” has almost worn off.
SCORE: 77/100 (C+)
*Disclosure: This Sonoma Cherrywood Rye was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.