Whiskey Review: Redwood Empire Rocket Top Batch 2

, | March 2, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

I first encountered Redwood Empire “in the wild,” tucked in the shelves of a massive Chicago liquor store. I had just received some good news (a rarity at the time) and decided to celebrate by treating myself to a bottle of whiskey. Equipped with a good mood and a budget of $35 (a ridiculous sum for a graduate student to spend on anything), I expected to wander the aisles for thirty minutes or so before making a decision.

But nearly immediately I was struck by the distinct label of a bottle I’d never seen before. I barely walked to the end of the aisle before shrugging and admitting to myself that I’m a sucker for a John Muir quote and good design. I purchased the bottle and strolled home to enjoy.

I’m well aware of the numerous deficiencies of this decision making process, but in this case it turned out pretty well. The bottle of Lost Monarch I picked up was a solid value at the price point, and from that first bottle on I’ve gone out of my way to give Redwood Empire a try when I have the opportunity.

As I read up on the producer, I found it easy to appreciate the Redwood Empire brand inside the bottle and out.  Since launching in 2018, Redwood Empire has slowly moved from bottling sourced to self-produced whiskey, aging their juice in the Northern California region from which they take their name.

It’s not surprising then they take inspiration from John Muir, who championed the protection of California’s natural spaces. And lest they be accused of taking the legendary conservationist’s name in vain, their website states that “Redwood Empire is more than a cool name, its our home and a source of inspiration. With John Muir as our guide, protecting our environment has become our mantra. We have built sustainability into everything we do. Our still allows us to distill in a single pass, preserving both water and energy. Local farmers use our nutrient rich mash as feed for livestock. And our state of the art water reclamation facility assures only pure water re-enters our water table”. 

Today I have the opportunity to taste the second batch of Redwood Empire’s Rocket Top, a bottled-in-bond straight rye whiskey. This release is touted as the product of a single season, single distillery bottle.

Redwood Empire Rocket Top Batch 2 review

We review Redwood Empire Rocket Top Batch 2, a bottled in bond whiskey out of California that’s aged for 5 years. (image via Redwood Empire)

Tasting Notes: Redwood Empire Rocket Top Batch 2

Vital Stats: Aged 5 years, 100 proof, $90 MSRP

Appearance: This looks very nice in a glencairn. Clean caramel coloring with a soft orange hue, and light but noticeable viscosity.

Nose: Not what I expected from all that rye. Very sweet aroma of cherry, caramel, and dates. All that sweetness isn’t cloying though, it is balanced by something herbaceous that I honestly can’t place and a solid backbone of baking spices.

Palate: Rich, creamy mouthfeel delivers caramel corn and the cinnamon from the nose. That  earthy, ground cinnamon note is perceptible from beginning to end of the Rocket Top experience. The sweetness of the first impression fades into tannic dried fruit and lands on big vanilla and oak for the finish which fades slowly with the omnipresent rye spice.

Whiskey Review: Redwood Empire Rocket Top Batch 2


I tasted spices the whole time, but wouldn’t call this “spicy.” The rye is assertive, but more as earthy and tannic notes that play a near perfect contrast to the sweeter side of the glass. Unique among high ryes I’ve tasted for the heavy weighting of sweetness over spice in a way that brings out the best in both.

User Review
4.5 (2 votes)


Jacob Wirt

Jacob Wirt’s past lives as a cook and cultural studies researcher continue to inform his appreciation of fermented grain beverages- not (only) because these professions might drive one to drink, but because they offer a reminder of the knowledge, work, and history that makes every glass possible. His first love...