What does the term “CASK STRENGTH” actually mean? Drinking cask strength whiskey is like having a sip straight from the barrel itself. Typically water is added to whiskey prior to bottling in order to reduce the "Alcohol By Volume” (or “ABV”) and balance the water and alcohol, presenting a “smooth” drinking whiskey. This process also aids the whiskey’s appeal to a wider audience and is initial in creating a whiskey anyone can enjoy. Cask strength whiskey, on the other hand, is bottled straight from the barrel without any water being added, offering the drinker an unadulterated whiskey which, if they so choose, could be later adjusted with ice or water.
Speaking of cask strength, the newest Sonoma Whiskey release is a Cask Strength Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon Single Barrel that is aged four years and has notes of chutney and stone fruit on the nose, with cherry cola and wet leather on the palate. This particular barrel is bottled at 119.8 proof. We recommend trying it neat first before adding any water or ice. If you use it in a cocktail, be prepared to use less than you normally would as a little bit goes a long way at almost 60% alcohol.
This bottle will be released to our Distiller Select club members next month. Want to snag some bottles for yourself? Join the club by August 30th.
With the recent release of our Sonoma Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey, I wanted to take the time to highlight what makes this bourbon so unique. It is not just the delectable flavor profile of caramel chew on the nose, well balanced wood sugars, and leather on the palate (although it certainly helps!). What truly makes this bourbon so special is its Bottled in Bond designation. Some of you may remember the Bottled in Bond Cherrywood Rye Whiskey that was released earlier this year. So what exactly does Bottled in Bond mean, and why do we use it with these two special releases?
The Bottled in Bond Act was passed in 1897 as a way to ensure the integrity of American Whiskey as it needs to follow very specific guidelines. The whiskey must be:
- The product of one distillation season (January to June or July to December)
- Aged in a federally bonded warehouse for a minimum of four years
- Bottled at precisely 100 proof (50% ABV)
- Labelled with the distillery at which it was made and bottled
Want to try Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey for yourself? Sonoma Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey is available in our Whiskey Shop.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of whiskey trivia. Stay up-to-date with all things Sonoma Whiskey by heading to our website and signing up for our newsletter, or better yet, join our club.
It takes 33 handfuls of California grain to make Sonoma Whiskey. 100% of the corn, rye, wheat and barley that we use are all grown right here in California, and 33 handfuls is about how much of them it takes to make one bottle of whiskey. And if you live in California we can ship one to you.
The Sonoma “West of MANHATTAN“
Our take on a classic:
- Fill a mixing glass or shaker with ice
- Add two ”shakes” bitters (your choice)
- Pour in 2 ounces of Sonoma Bourbon
- Add 2 ounces sweet (red) vermouth
- Stir (or swish) well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with orange peel or cherry (or both)
Also works well with Sonoma Rye Whiskey if you prefer your cocktails more dry
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,
Bourbon Pepper Reduction Sauce
Cooking with whiskey is something I highly recommend. Like any good recipe, using high quality ingredients is key, particularly in a reduction sauce where the true qualities of those ingredients are amplified. I tried this Bourbon Pepper Reduction Sauce using my own Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon with great success. Here is the recipe I followed:
- 20 ounce Ribeye from @StempleCreek
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons @fabrique_delices duck fat
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 teaspoons butter, divided
- 1 fluid ounce Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ⅓ cup @strausmilk heavy cream
- Salt to taste
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Season both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper (be generous with the pepper).
Melt the duck fat in a steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the steaks; cook until firm and reddish-pink in the center for medium-rare (about 5 minutes per side). Sear the edges until browned (about 30 seconds each). Transfer the steaks to a plate; allow them to rest while you make the sauce. Turn off the heat.
Stir the garlic into the same pan using a spoon. Add 1 teaspoon butter; let melt. Pour in 1oz Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon. Heat until reduced to a sticky glaze (about 15 seconds). Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat while scraping up the browned bits at the bottom to deglaze. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add the heavy cream; season with salt and cayenne pepper. Boil until thickened (2 to 3 minutes).
Turn off heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter; swirl until melted (about 30 seconds more). Spoon the warm sauce onto serving plates and place the steaks on top.
If you're making this sauce for meat that's coming off a grill, you can still make the sauce separately, just keep it warm until the main course is ready. Start with sautéd garlic in butter and finish as indicated above with some extra ground black pepper.
Original recipe source: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/265861/bourbon-pepper-pan-sauce/
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