The folks at the Redwood Empire Distillery sent this bottle of Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey to for inclusion in the weekly tastings held at the Henry Street Ale House… Meeting Expectations.


In 1991 Kevin Zraley, master sommelier at Windows on The World, in New York City, held a beer event to introduce a number of “micro” beers on the beverage menu and invited members of the food and beverage press to attend the event.

I took the opportunity to ask Fritz Maytag, owner of the Anchor Brewing Co. at that time, if his Holiday Ale was going to be big and full-bodied like a burgundy or lighter and more supple along the line of a Bordeaux. A journalist listening in on the conversation spoke up, “Aren’t we here to talk about Beer?” Fritz Maytag took a moment and looked the journalist up and down and responded… “We are all friends in fermentation.”

And so, it is that we find ourselves tasting a Rye Whiskey from Sonoma, California.

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What the folks at Redwood Empire tell me…
The story behind Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey is legendary…

“Down a winding trail and along a meandering creek in the Redwood National Park rises the massive trunk of Emerald Giant. Yawning high above, over 360 feet, this august Sequoia is the fastest growing Redwood in the world, gaining over 50 cubic feet and more than 1,500 pounds of mass each year, and it is 1,180 years old.”

Tasting Profile:

Color: Burnt Orange

Nose: Natural Rye aroma followed by a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon with a hint of pepper.

Palate: Unparalleled spice complexity with smooth rye notes. A hint of honey and orange peel becomes peppery with a lingering cinnamon finish.

Mash Bill: 95% Rye 5% Malted Barley

Age: A blend of 3- and 5-year-old rye.

What the rest of the Web says… tells us…

“Distilled in Indiana and California, and aged in Northern California, the Redwood Empire Emerald Giant Rye shows how climate plays into the aging of whiskey. It’s not just what you distill, where you distill it and how you distill it, it’s also about where and how you age it.”

From Forbes… Redwood Empire’s American Whiskey: Is It Worth A Taste?

By Joseph V Micallef

“I write about wines and spirits and the hidden corners of the world.”

“Northern California’s rugged isolation has long made it a convenient location to host illicit activities. Long before it was discovered by pot growers, moonshiners set up shop providing bootleg whiskey to San Francisco. The tradition goes back to the days of the California gold rush and flourished during Prohibition. It is this history that inspired the Graton Distilling Company to build a distillery in Sonoma County. Recently, the company released its first batch of Redwood Empire American Whiskey.”

The reports…

“I love the name “Redwood Empire American Whiskey,” as it conjures up all kinds of positive, historic images in my mind. So kudos to Graton Distilling Company, based in Sonoma County, California, for thinking of that!”