We are constantly on the search to find new whiskeys to add to our liquor shelf. Even if we don’t like a whiskey, it’s fun to try new stuff from different distillers and regions. While we’ve been expanding our reach, we haven’t ventured to spirits distilled around the pacific northwest. That changes today as we get ready to review Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey. We’ve previously reviewed Pendleton Midnight and Rye, which are bottled in Oregon, but they are distilled in Canada.
Redwood Empire whiskey comes to us out of the Sonoma county and the Russian River Valley, known for its vineyards and production of some of the best wines in the world. Does its climate also have the ability to produce great whiskey? I suppose we’re going to find out.
Redwood Empire Whiskey History
There’s not too much out there on the history of the company. We know it was founded by Derek Benham in 2011 and they began distilling whiskey as well as sourcing whiskey in 2015/2016. Their first release was the blended straight whiskey, then their rye, and lastly the Pipe Dream Bourbon in 2019.
The Redwood Empire Whiskey Distillery – Graton Distilling Co – is located right in the Russian River Valley in what was an old apple processing plant. You can likely guess where Redwood Empire got it’s name knowing how it’s located in the northwest of California, but we’ll touch on some of the more important facets of it.
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey Namesake
The Redwood Empire is a strip of land that goes from San Francisco up to the border of Oregon, and is named after the Redwood trees that occupy the area. Redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world and once used to thrive. However, Deforestation and other causes saw the magnificent trees go almost extinct – northern California and southern Oregon are the only places in the world where they grow.
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream is named after a tree in the Redwood Empire. The Pipe Dream is the 14th tallest tree in the world at 367 ft tall. While it’s a whopping 1340 years old, it’s one of the fastest growing trees ever measured.
Redwood Empire Whiskey also “plants a tree”, or donates to a foundation that does, for every bottle that is purchased.
Redwood Empire Bourbon Overview
- Spirit: Bourbon
- Owned By: Derek Benham
- Distilled By: Graton Distilling Co, as well as sourced from other distilleries (MGP likely being one of them)
- Aged: 4 – 12 years
- ABV: 45%, 90 Proof.
- Mashbill: 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
Pipe Dream Bourbon is a blend of in-house whiskey and whiskey sourced from Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. We don’t know how much of their own whiskey goes into a bottle, but I really wish we did as it would give me a better understanding of whiskey distilled in this region.
While there is a blend of various aged whiskey – all the way up to 12 years – I am confident that a majority of the whiskey is aged closer to the 4 year mark, with a small amount of the bourbon being aged 12 years.
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the real reason you’re all here. Is Redwood Empire Bourbon good? What does it taste like? My favorite part. Time to pour myself a dram of Pipe Dream!
Nose: Traditional. Vanilla, caramel, oak. Lemon and cinnamon make a small appearance as well.
Taste: Sweet and warm. Vanilla, oak, cinnamon. Very typical with a touch of nutty and dark fruit notes.
Finish: toasted oak sizzles out into cinnamon and pepper. Medium to long in length, very warm yet easy finish.
This is a very good, traditional, classic bourbon right here. From nose to finish there is little straying from the bourbon profile. Yes of course there’s some variance of flavor there. Some nutty notes, maybe a touch of earthiness in there as well, and some light and dark fruit flavors. However, this is a bourbon through and through.
Saying Redwood Empire Pipe Dream has a very standard bourbon profile isn’t a bad thing because the quality of it is not standard. Yes, a aficionado may be a bit bored with this. Someone looking for something new and exciting might be disappointed. However, if you’re a fan of bourbon and you’re just looking for a high quality sipper, this is it.
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Price
We’ve decided that Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon is a very good pour. It’s inoffensive and regular, or familiar, but it’s smooth and tasty. As long as this bottle isn’t ridiculously priced, it’s going to be a staple of ours. We’ll take a look at the prices of Redwood Empire Bourbon at Total Wine stores across the US to determine and average price.
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon: $34-40
Prices ranged anywhere from $28-46 but most fell in the mid $30 price point. Redwood Empire Bourbon costs exactly what it should. I’d buy 10 bottles right now if it were $25, and I’d still say it was a fair price if it were $45. There are only so many very good $35 bottles out there – this is one of them.
I think you can guess that I’m going to say this bottle is a pretty good value. A lot of our favorite whiskey costs closer to $50, so it’s always nice finding a new staple under $40. I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the best value – as high quality whiskey for the cheapest price – is most often found in the $30-40 price range.
There is a flip side to this whiskey. If you’re looking for something more eclectic, more WOWing, don’t get Redwood Empire Bourbon. The flavor is typical of a bourbon, it’s just atypically smooth.
Redwood Empire Whiskey Selection
Because we liked Pipe Dream so much, we decided we’ll briefly touch on the other whiskeys that Redwood Empire offers. Be on the lookout for reviews coming in the future on these as well.
RE Emerald Giant Rye
Named after the Emerald Giant tree, a 359 ft redwood that is the fastest growing sequoia in the world, this rye whiskey is aged 3-5 years. 95% rye and 5% malted barley, likely from MGP.
RE Lost Monarch Blended Whiskey
Named after the Lost Monarch Tree, the largest coastal redwood in the world at 321 ft tall, this whiskey is a blend of straight rye and straight bourbon whiskey. Here we have what seems to be a blend of both the Emerald Giant Rye And Pipe Dream Bourbon
Redwood Empire Bourbon Summary
Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon is what bourbon is supposed to taste like. There’s no crazy unique flavor here, nothing new. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, they simply made a damn good one. The downside of Pipe Dream is that you can get bored of it. It’s not as exciting as some other sips, but it doesn’t need to be. This is an everyday kind of bourbon. When you want something new, try something new, but this will always be just what it is. A very solid, traditional bourbon.
I also like that Redwood Empire donates/plants a tree for every bottle they sell. I reviewed Noble Oak Bourbon awhile ago and they did something similar. Noble Oak, though, seemed gimmicky. They made a bourbon and then used planting a tree to sell it, or so it seemed to me. Redwood Empire makes high quality whiskey. It’s what their about. They just so happen to plant a tree to – it’s not a selling point for them.
Overall, I’ve really got nothing negative to say about Pipe Dream Bourbon. It won’t be revolutionary, but I can’t imagine any whiskey drinker that would dislike it either.