Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Corbin Cash Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Master Distiller David Souza is a fourth generation farmer and first generation distiller. In the early aughts, Souza branched out to purchase franchised restaurants and established a nightclub promotion company in Las Vegas. In 2007, Souza decided to launch a new venture with the goal of creating his own line of spirits using ingredients grown on his family’s farm to provide true farm-to-bottle products. The result was a brand new spirits company named after Souza’s son, Corbin Cash Souza.
Corbin Cash Distillery is located in Atwater, California, near Merced in the San Joaquin Valley. The distillery is situated on the Souza family farm which has been in operation since 1917 and is known for being one of the largest sweet potato farms in California. In addition to sweet potatoes, the Souza estate also produces rye, giving a legitimate grain-to-glass designation to their whiskey. Other spirits produced by Corbin Cash Distillery include vodka, gin, and sweet potato liqueur. Corbin Cash Distillery’s California Grown Sweet Potato Vodka won Double Gold at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and another Double Gold in 2013 at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America 70th Annual Convention & Exposition.
Corbin Cash 1917 Merced Rye is aged for six years in new, charred American oak casks. It’s bottled at 123 proof (61.5% ABV) and consists of 100% estate grown rye, which serves as the cover crop for the sweet potatoes after they’ve been harvested. By using the rye as a cover crop for their sweet potato crops, they are essentially providing a nitrogen-fixing crop that naturally fertilizes the soil in between harvesting the sweet potatoes. The rye used is an ultra-rare Merced rye mash bill that is a 100% native California rye.
Tasting Notes: Corbin Cash 1917 Merced Rye
Vital Stats: 100% rye mash bill, aged 6 years, 123 proof (61.5% ABV), 750 ML bottle MSRP $48.
Appearance: Brown sherry.
Nose: There is a moderate nose burn with smoky notes of caramel, dark cherry, and the slightest hint of cacao.
Palate: There is a smoky forwardness on the palate accompanied by a strong medicinal flavor. It has notes of mild cinnamon, pecan, caramel, dark cherry, and dark chocolate.
Whiskey Review: Corbin Cash 1917 Merced Rye
This rye whiskey has a medium to long finish with a limited flavor profile. More specifically, the flavors that are there linger acceptably, but I would have liked to have been able to discover more flavors with subsequent sips. If the smokiness were more mellowed it might allow for more flavors to show through. Perhaps if it were aged a little longer it might have more to offer.
Nonetheless, I’m still intrigued by this whiskey and will be very eager to try future rye whiskeys from this distillery. As with any new venture, there’s always a learning curve, and I firmly believe that Master Distiller David Souza is off to a good start.
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Jennifer Williams is a former Dallas, Texas bartender of 15 years where she developed an appreciation for patrons with a healthy respect for great whiskey. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2019 where she graduated from Portland State University as an English Literature major with a minor in Writing. While...