top of page

Pocket Sized Review: Redwood Empire - Emerald Giant Cask Strength Craft Rye Whiskey

Redwood Empire Cask Strength Emerald Giant Sample - Pocket Review

Today's pocketful is a sample that @gigglesnsips shared with me recently. It comes from Redwood Empire, a craft distillery that has been open since 2015. They distill their own whiskey and also source from other distilleries, blending under the prowess of master distiller Jeff Duckhorn. The cask-strength variants are an exciting new bottling that I have been looking forward to trying. Pull up a chair, and I'll pour out a glass. It's time to explore something new!


Company on Label: Redwood Empire Distilling

Whiskey Type: Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 94% rye, 1% wheat, 5% malted barley

Proof: 116.4°

Age: 4 years (a blend of 4-6 year old ryes from California, Indiana and Kentucky)

Further identification: The cask strength variants of Redwood Empire were first released in October 2022 as an expansion of their core offerings with cask strength Emerald Giant being offered at an MSRP of ~$70; this release owes its title to the 359 foot tall redwood by the same name


Nose: On first lifting the glass to my nose I find resinous pine sap to be quite prevalent. There's a light perfume characteristic that is interesting, almost whimsical, as it mentally takes me to a delicately classy and casual 1920's dinner party in a New York apartment. Champagne flutes are in hand, the faint linger of stale cigarette smoke hangs in the air, and all sorts of fancy linens abound in unnecessary quantity. I feel underdressed, as if I should have a much more extravagant hat on for this pour. Reaching my nose back into the depths of the glass offers aromas of mossy forest floors, patchouli, camphoraceous cedar wood, and light caramel brittle. There are undertones of almond, spearmint, and cinnamon all throughout a fairly well-balanced rye. Let's take a sip before continuing on.

Returning my nose to the glass exalts the virtue of oak. Hints of an old cigar box can be made out on long inhales when not singed by flashes of noticeable ethanol. Subtle sandalwood creeps in late in the glass. Leather, green peppers, and dill can be teased out for the patient observer. Overall, it's nice in the nose, offering a revolving lazy Susan of spice, earthiness, and interesting tea tones. The empty glass smells of bright lemon drop candies, green tea, summer grass, and a forest floor littered with pine needles.

Palate: My first taste of cask strength Emerald Giant reveals a silky cup of tea that has been slowly stirred with a cinnamon stick. I find it to be quite warm and comforting after a day of hiking out in the cold. The mouthfeel is coating but not overly creamy—much like the linger of an Earl Gray tea. Another sip layers in tingling spice that carries tartness on the back end, much like a warm, mulled red wine. Overall, it is noticeably boozy with a medium linger of wood spice, tannic tones, and hints of expressed lemon peel. As I taste down through the bottom of the glass, I find a rye that transports me to a carnival, a whiskey laced with notes of fried dough, confectioners sugar, boozy limoncello, and a strong, savory finish of buttered bread.

TL;DR: A sharp, fun glass - very much its own thing due to blending skill, but not wow-worthy


Rating: 3/5

This is a really fun rye, and one that I think is worth exploring for yourself if you are into craft whiskey in general. For me, it proved a little too sharp, with boozy tones not letting the subtle nuance shine like other ryes might, but I'm glad to have been able to try it.



bottom of page