Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Review

 

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Review

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 is the wheated mashbill bourbon from Sonoma County Distilling Company. Aged in small barrels for a short period of time it carries that “Craft Whiskey” profile stronger than most young craft whiskeys I’ve had to-date which we’ll get into more in the review below, but first a word from the distiller.

In Sonoma County Distilling’s Words: Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2

“The grey bridge on this bourbon distinguishes this as a refined, wheated bourbon starting with American yellow corn, followed by wheat as the secondary grain. Aged in new, charred American oak for no less than one year, mellow flavors of vanilla, almond, toffee and butterscotch round out the palate. Drink it neat, or in a classic Whiskey Sour. Cask Strength available. This is is California’s Bourbon Whiskey.”

After prohibition when Stitzel-Weller had to restart from scratch they chose a wheated mashbill because it tasted good at younger ages than a mashbill using rye as the flavor grain. Though that’s not all it takes to make a young whiskey taste good. Grain, milling technique, distilling techniques, wood choice, water and location all play big factors when its young and the raw spirit is shining. More about all of that below in the Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 review.

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Info

Region: California, USA

Distiller: Sonoma County Distilling
Mashbill: Corn, Wheat and Malted Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak (small barrels)
Age: NAS
ABV: 53.5%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Batch: 2
Bottle: 23

Price: ~$50*

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Review

EYE
Orangish caramel

NOSE
Raw grain, spirity vanilla, saw dust/craft oak, candy corn, cinnamon, and light bits of motor oil, biscuits and candied lemon.

PALATE
Raw grain, saw-dust-like young raw wood, spirity vanilla, cinnamon, light biscuits and marzipan.

FINISH
Medium chalky fade of saw dust, ash, raw grain, artificial butterscotch and biscuits.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Not balanced, medium body and a hot feel.

OVERALL
Let’s cut to the chase, I’m not a fan of the Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2. The young “craft whiskey” profile of raw wood, raw grain and spirity sweetness dominates to the point I can barely taste anything else. It’s raw, it’s punchy and any other flavors or aromas are so topical and light they disappear the moment you shift your attention. Water only helps a little.

When Stitzel-Weller had to restart after prohibition they put out their Carolina Club 1-month-old bourbon followed by a 3-month-old to get cash flow coming in. They followed that up with a 6-month-old and 1-year-old which was succeeded by an 18-month-old Kentucky Oaks. Versions of these CC & KO whiskies stayed in market until they could release a 4-year-old because they knew what it takes to hit a quality “bourbon character”. Local, small and “new” only takes you so far and doesn’t last forever…

SCORE: 70/100 (C-)

*Disclosure: This Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 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 2 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 69
  • Palate - 66
  • Finish - 67
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 66

Summary

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 is not my favorite.

Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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5 Responses to Sonoma West of Kentucky Bourbon 2 Review

  1. Normally a big fan of your reviews … but the re-grading approach you’ve recently applied to past Sonoma, and perhaps other craft, releases doesn’t seem entirely fair. In those reviews, you repeatedly criticise the whisky for being too young, craft etc but those reviews appear to be based on re-tasting bottles dating from 2014. Have you thought about the fact that the distillery may, and I’m pretty sure is, now putting older whisky into the releases as they ramp up production? I wouldn’t be surprised if you found a fairly big difference between Sonoma Rye 2017 and 2014, for example. Appreciate that this West of Kentucky is presumably a 2017 release, and you still find it too young, but I don’t think it’s fair to extrapolate that finding across other Sonoma releases. Just my two cents worth.

    • Not a totally unfounded comment, but I did say I tried from the same bottle which I hadn’t touched since so they were more than 3/4 full. On the counter point I don’t think it’s entirely fair to leave the scores in the 80s when actual 80s bourbon and rye is significantly better. They’re decent for young craft whiskey (which is why the first scored in the 80s), but when compared to what I’d put as 80s bourbon or rye they fall short.

      • For sure, the issue isn’t whether the whisky has oxidised in the bottle. It’s whether the current 2017 releases are the same as the 2014s that you’ve tasted, given that craft distilleries have hopefully ramped up production and therefore been able to increase the age of whisky going into the bottle since 2014.

        In any event, kudos to you for running a great independent whisky blog – the only one I read on a regular basis.

        • Well thank you 🙂 On their site the only age-statements I could find is a couple mentions of stuff being 1-year-old, the larger issue really is the use of small barrels. They’re hard to work with, very few people do it well. Cheers!

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