Whiskey Review: Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by SanTan Distilling. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The thing about American single malt whiskey is that it’s not really a legal category of whiskey yet. There are plenty of examples of distilleries in the United States producing single malt varieties, but you won’t necessarily find an official guideline for how to produce the spirit, though there are organizations working hard to recognize it as an official category.

SanTan Brewing + Distilling Co. makes Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey in Chandler, Arizona. The company began as primarily a brewery and restaurant, and has now launched a line of spirits. They are the state’s largest craft brewery, whose mission is to pair hand-crafted food with hand-crafted brews and spirits. The brewery and restaurant opened in 2007, and launched their distillery in May, 2018. Their line of spirits hit shelves around the same time, along with two vodkas, one traditional and the other a kaffir lime flavored version.

SanTan refers to their products as “the very best from the American West,” and their whiskey is never sourced. Their Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey is made from 100% American malted barley, and it’s a real-life example of how you can taste terroir in whiskey made from the same ingredients grown and aged in different climates. Sacred Stave is also aged in Arizona wine casks, to give it distinction from other American single malt varieties.

Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey

Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey (image via SanTan Distilling)

Tasting Notes: Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey

Vital Stats: 90 proof (45% abv); available in Arizona; made from 100% American malted barley; a bottle retails for $47; aged in Arizona wine casks.

Appearance: It’s a deep amber, and when you swish it around in your glass, it doesn’t really make legs it just kind of sticks to the side of the glass in one solid line.

Nose: Green apples and ripe pears, followed by a deep, oaky pinot noir. Pipe tobacco, cloves, vanilla and caramel add sweetness. The wine barrels did most of the heavy lifting to add these rich and varied scents.

Palate: The texture is smooth and spicy, which makes for a tingly and silky mouthfeel. The cinnamon and allspice in the beginning are nice, but I think the wine is a little overwhelming and the nuances are there but hard to find. The whole experience is a little like eating a layered fruitcake, with notes of candied almond, tobacco, leather, vanilla, caramel leading off. While all those flavors are doing their thing, there’s a build up of tannin and cinnamon that build quickly and lead into a bitter woody and vinous flavor.

The finish is dry, lingering and tastes like dark cherries and dates. The brewers at SanTan certainly came out of the gate with a product that has big, unique flavors. I really enjoy the satin mouthfeel, it’s reminiscent of single malt Irish whiskies.

The Takeaway


I thought at first that I didn't like this whiskey, but after letting it open up for a bit, I think I can appreciate the delicacies of it a little better. The wine can be a little overpowering for the other background flavors. The mouthfeel is really nice, and I think it's a solid example of how you can taste terroir.

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