Sebastapol, California-based Spirit Works is well-known around here for its gin and vodka products. Recently it got into the world of whiskey, releasing its first ever bourbon.
This is an unusual four-grain whiskey, featuring a mash of 60% corn, the rest a mix of wheat, rye, and barley. All grains are organic and the corn and wheat are California grown. The bourbon is aged at least four years in 53 gallon, new-charred oak barrels.
That all sounds like a great basis for a solid product, which surprised me all the more when I found the finished product to be rather lackluster.
The whiskey has many of the hallmarks of a young bourbon, with a big punch of granary notes on the nose and plenty of wood. It has the ashy heat of a coal fire, but as it opens up the whiskey eventually shows some more engaging fruit elements, with a whiff of red berries, and some cinnamon. Such promise doesn’t last, though, as the palate is quite tight, gritty, and savory, and the whiskey takes a long while to open up meaningfully. Even then, it’s stiff as a board, loaded with oak that’s been slathered with a thick layer of savory spices and barbecue char. No real sense of the quartet of grains used. The finish is drying, and the whole experience remains largely closed off.
All told, it really presents itself in a rather familiar way, standing in a somewhat anonymous line with many a craft whiskey that’s come before it.
90 proof. Reviewed: Batch #001.
B- / $44