Adam Spiegel
May 18, 2020 | Adam Spiegel

The (r)Evolution of Rye

The (r)Evolution of Rye

We all need a little extra “spirit” these days and I would like to share with you where I get some of my own: making whiskey. My passion for distilling is rooted in its long history, and in particular the place Rye whiskey holds as the quintessential American spirit. If I can have your eyeballs for just a moment I’ll connect for you what I love about Rye Whiskey and the (abbreviated) history of this (r)evolutionary American spirit.

Much of our nation's very first whiskey was made from Rye. As a plentiful grain well suited to our American climate, it also enabled us to make spirit from something other than cane. The prevailing spirit of the day, rum, was made from Caribbean sugarcane and therefore dependent on a raw material that came from somewhere else. And so was born this expression of American spirit, one that was truly our own.

But here is the part of this story that I love the most. In the centuries that followed, immigrant tradesmen from all corners of the globe taught us how to make this whiskey better. Their many generations of knowledge in grains, barrels, fermentation and the very art of distilling contributed immensely to the whiskey we know today. In other words, everything wonderful about this spirit is more than just our own, it is about our deep connection with the rest of the world.

I too began my passion for distilling with Rye, a hat tip to the heritage of this truly American spirit. My own expression of it comes in two styles: Sonoma Rye Whiskey and Sonoma Cherrywood Rye Whiskey. Both are small batch, double pot distilled and made much as I imagine it was centuries ago. And in keeping with the spirit of this history, 100% of what I use to make Sonoma Whiskey is grown in California. Our connection to the land and the people who grow the grains are an important part of making high quality California whiskey.

The history of whiskey and “(r)evolution of Rye” is of course well documented. I couldn't possibly do it justice in one short blog. As a Distiller of spirit, though, I am engaging this small slice of it here because I believe it is example of how we can come together in these difficult times. Whiskey has been made wonderful because of our collaboration as a global tribe, and that spirit personifies what I appreciate most in our humanity.

Take care of yourself and each other,



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