** This is the first post in a new series by Mack McConnell called West Coast Whiskey. Mack’s a contributing writer for Cocktail Enthusiast. When he’s not writing about whiskey, he’s probably drinking it. He also runs Taster’s Club Whiskey of the Month. **
There’s no denying it. California is not the whiskey capital of America. Not even close. When someone talks about stateside whiskey, it’s usually in reference to spirits made in Kentucky or Tennessee. And when someone talks about California, it’s usually in reference to bold IPAs, home foreclosures or Kim Kardashian.
Unfortunate. Because there are some great whiskeys being made in California, and it’s about time they get some attention. Hence this West Coast Whiskey series, in which I’ll show my shameless devotion to all things California, but more importantly, I’ll feature distilleries and their delicious whiskeys being made right here.
First up: St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA – an island sitting in San Francisco Bay. The St. George guys make a fine single malt whiskey, which is rare for American whiskey makers. In fact, some call it the “whiskey that wants to be a whisky.” (For notes on the spellings, check out this explanation.)
The guys behind St. George Spirits have different backgrounds that bring important elements to the table when crafting their unique single malt whiskey. Jorg Rupf comes from a line of eau de vie distillers in Germany. While Lance Winters has a brewing background, and was busy making beer before joining St. George in 1995.
Part of what gives this California whiskey its unique character is the distillery’s use of roasted and smoked malts. St. George uses a mixture of toasted malts — which are often used to lend that rich, dark color to porters and stouts — as well as malts smoked over hardwoods like beech and alder. This process yields a whiskey with intense aromas and complexity.
Color: Light golden yellow
Nose: Right off the bat, lots of sweetness and floral tones, plus a strong bourbon cask aroma – oak, vanilla, honey. Hops are present, as well as dark berries.
Taste: Floral flavors and hops play a big role upfront. Sweet cocoa follows, plus some pineapple and coconut flavors. The finish is a bit sweet, with some honey, vanilla and nutmeg spice.
– 43% Alcohol by Volume
St. George Single Malt Whiskey is definitely worth checking out. So, do that, then stay tuned for more from our West Coast Whiskey series.