For the Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 we switch gears from wheat as the flavor grain back to the more traditional rye which they’ve amped up to being a “high-rye” mashbill. Just how high is that rye? I dunno, it’s not listed so who’s to say… besides them that is.
In Sonoma County Distilling’s Words: Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3
“Located ‘West of Kentucky’, we craft our High-Rye style of bourbon with unmalted corn from the Midwest, California rye and malted barley from Wyoming. Aged in new, charred American oak for no less than one year, the finished blend offers a robust spiciness and is the ideal choice for a classic Mint Julep. This is California’s Bourbon Whiskey.”
My review of the West Of Kentucky Bourbon 2 may have come off a bit harsh, but it’s the truth of how I feel about that whiskey and also the craft distilling scene as a whole. It was fun to get a glimpse of what it must have been like post-prohibition when people were trying to re-start and some new folks were just getting into the scene, but there’s always something to take from History and that’s a lesson. Of the dozens of distilleries that existed and re-started post-prohibition only a handful survived.
I’m harsh because I care. Novelty wears off and if these craft folks want to compete in the long run they need to work on approaching the same level of quality as the big guys. Wyoming Whiskey is a shining example of someone making those strides and slowly they’re getting there. Their whiskey has gone from young, minerally and unpleasant to mature and flavorful. I think Wyoming has a chance of carving out a sustainable piece of the pie, but what about the ones who aren’t making those strides? Only time will tell if this Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 review is a marker in their history or an epitaph. I’m hoping for the former.
Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 Info
Region: California, USA
Distiller: Sonoma County Distilling
Mashbill: Corn, Rye, Malted Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak (small barrels)
Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 Review
Apple cider, craft oak, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla spirit, raw corn and a bit of frosting sweetness.
Saw dust craft oak, apple, spice, dark honey, orange peel, cocoa and spirity vanilla.
Long fade of spice, grain, saw dust, butterscotch, dried fruit and spirt.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Not fully balanced, medium body, easy drinking
Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 is the high-rye edition of SCDC’s bourbon and I like it more than I do their wheated mashbill. It seems like the spiciness from the rye helped keep some of the “Craft Whiskey” profile at bay. It’s battled back some of that young wood, raw grain and sweet spirity nature to allow some of the more nuanced aromas and flavors to make a showing, but I won’t deny I’m worried it’ll never get better than this.
I’ve grown weary of this craft profile. What was once exciting and new is now ubiquitous and easy to call out in blind tastings; the second it comes up I set it aside and move on. I want to see these guys and most of the other craft whiskey makers succeed, but it’s going to be tough when it all basically tastes the same because it’s dominated by that singular profile. I’d truly love to see how the Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 tastes after 4 years in a full sized barrel; I wonder if we’ll ever get that opportunity.
SCORE: 76/100 (C)
*Disclosure: This Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 76
- Palate - 76
- Finish - 76
- Balance, Body & Feel - 76
Sonoma West Of Kentucky Bourbon 3 is what it is. Young craft whiskey.