Recently, Sonoma-based Graton Distillery debuted cask strength versions of its forest-inspired core lineup: Lost Monarch, Pipe Dream, and Emerald Giant. For details on each of the trees that inspired those names, you can flip back to our reviews from 2019. Specifics on the whiskeys themselves are covered in our reviews below, but all are presumably a blend of house-distilled and sourced whiskey, given the noted ages, and each is said to showcase a lower-than-normal cask strength proof due to the temperate climate of California’s fog belt where the whiskeys are aged.
Redwood Empire Cask Strength Pipe Dream Bourbon – Made from a mashbill of 74% corn, 20% raw rye, 4.5% malt barley, and 1.5% wheat and aged for a minimum of four years with components as old as twelve years. The aroma hits with quite a bit of alcohol, even after time to air out. The same peanut and popcorn notes found in the standard offering dominate, perhaps a bit more roasted and buttered, respectively. Despite the presence of older stock, things still come across quite undercooked and youthful. The palate benefits more from the higher proof with big notes of praline and peanut brittle, dark brown sugar and freshly ground baking spices. The sweetness is well-tempered by the bolder spirit character, amplifying its creamy texture, which extends into a long, warm finish accented by honey roasted peanuts, cola, and dark caramel. Reviewed: Batch #001. 116.8 proof. B / $70
Redwood Empire Cask Strength Emerald Giant Rye – Made from a mashbill of 94% rye, 5% malted barley, and 1% wheat and aged for a minimum of three years with components as old as fourteen years. Bright and crisp on the nose, this is classic stuff at first blush and quite approachable for a cask strength whiskey, with notes of spearmint and clove. The palate is spicy and spirit-forward, a bit surprising given the mild aroma. Things kick off with a lot of earthy rye spice. It’s actually a bit gritty at the outset, but things improve with building notes of caramel sauce and apple pie filling that carry across the mid palate. It takes its foot off the gas as it hits the finish, however, with drying raw wood and peppercorn notes offering a bit too much spice. Probably shows well in a cocktail, but for sipping, I prefer the standard strength. Reviewed: Batch #001. 116.4 proof. B / $70
Redwood Empire Cask Strength Lost Monarch Blended Whiskey – Made from a blend of Pipe Dream and Emerald Giant. The brighter rye spice of Emerald Giant has done wonders to improve the grain-forward nature of the Pipe Dream component, at least on the nose. Notes of muddled mint, Cracker Jacks, drinking cocoa, and a bit of sweet creamed corn make for an engaging aroma. On the palate, the many dimensions of this cask strength blend are a bit scattered but manage to come together well enough. Things begin with a punchy rye spice and some dried stone fruit before segueing to darker baking spices and caramel corn. The Emerald Giant component attempts to muscle in on the finish with lots of pepper and oak, but the creamy sweetness of the Pipe Dream helps to salvage and extend the experience with lingering notes of butterscotch pudding and raw honey. Reviewed: Batch #001. 117.2 proof. B+ / $70