St. George Spirits is a well-known American craft distillery, and you may know them for their enjoyable gins; Botanivore, Terroir, or Dry Rye. The first St. George product I fell in love with was their Terroir Gin. It is a bold, yet elegant gin and as intended, this gin smells and tastes like the Northern California coast.
Or maybe you know them for their vodka. St. George actually started Hanger One vodka and sold the brand to Proximo Spirits in 2010, and now they have three fantastic vodkas to call their own: All Purpose, California Citrus, and Green Chile vodka. They also have a fabulous lineup of fruit liqueurs, fruit brandies, a coffee liqueur, an Amaro, and even absinthe. And if you are really familiar with them, you may have heard of their hard to get single malts; Baller and St. George Single Malt.
But, after all of that, did you know that they have an affordable, easily accessible, and lovely tipple of an American blended whiskey?
My discovery of St. George Whiskey
I first found out about St. George’s whiskey in 2014, 14 years after their initial Lot 1 release in 2000. I bought a dram at a bar and loved it. I couldn’t believe it took me that long to come across it. It was unique, like all of St. George products.
Then in 2015 a friend and I had the pleasure of touring St. George distillery with James Lee, an apprentice distiller, and Katie Cavanee, St. George “office minion,” as she put it. (She now works at SG Wine & Spirits as a key account specialist.) During the tour, we had a fantastic tasting of a wide array of their spirits along with a few of their whiskeys. We also had a taste of their Baller whiskey which at the time wasn’t available to the public yet. Now, I have a bottle of Baller, Single Malt Lot 17, and Breaking & Entering in my liquor locker.
A brief history of St. George whiskey production
Jorg Rupf founded St George Spirits in 1982, and it was the first small American distillery since prohibition. Rupf distilled mainly Eau de vies, including pear, raspberry, and kiwi, in a 65 gallon still. But St. George didn’t have a whiskey program until Lance Winters joined the company in 1996. Winters used a bottle of whiskey he distilled as his resume, which got him a one month trial period at St George and ultimately the rest of his career. After much experimentation, the distillery started making whiskey in 1997, and they released the St. George single malt in 2000. Then in 2005, Dave Smith was hired on as a distiller, and with that, the whiskey program took another leap.
St. George’s Breaking & Entering American Whiskey
Cut to 2011, and why I think the St. George’s Breaking & Entering American Whiskey is so unique.
Winters and Smith had the idea of sourcing whiskey from some of their favorite distilleries and making an American blended whiskey. This wasn’t a new idea for a distillery. Many distilleries purchase ready-made spirits from companies such as MGP, bottle it, and slap a label on it without saying the product is from MGP or some other distillery. But that isn’t St. George’s style. Instead, they wanted to be transparent about the process of sourcing (barrel thieving) outside whiskeys from their favorite distilleries, and blend them to create something unique. Once they found the right blend of spirits using the barrels they sourced, they released St. George’s Breaking & Entering American Whiskey. The name is a nod to the process they went through to get to the release.
The first release in 2011 received wide acclaim, but it was short lived because the barrels they purchased for blending ran out. Then in 2018, seven years later, they released their second batch. It’s not that they didn’t want to release a new blend sooner; they did. But they weren’t finding whiskeys they wanted to use until 2018.
What I love about this whiskey is that they took the time to not just source the ready-made spirit, but to find the right distillations to blend and make their own. Blending spirits is an art form in and of itself. Possibly the true art of whiskey making. It is one thing to distill and age a spirit, but to take multiple barrels of an aged spirit, every barrel has its own distinct flavor profile, to create one spirit with a consistent taste over multiple bottlings is a giant feat.
Breaking & Entering American Whiskey Tasting Notes
This whiskey is a combination of sourced Tennesee rye and bourbon, and Kentucky bourbon, along with four different St. George single malts. The whiskeys used are at least two and a half years old, up to 14 years old.
Nose: Chocolate, molasses, cinnamon, orange, corn
Taste: Vanilla, Chocolate, Oak, slight pepper, spice
This is a subtle whiskey. It doesn’t linger on the palate, there is a short finish and then it’s gone. At 86 proof, I thought there would be more of a punch, but I think it’s an easy sipper that is excellent neat or in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
Try it in a cocktail
For an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, I would recommend stirring the mixed cocktail with a large ice cube so you can better control your dilution. For a Manhattan, go with lighter sweet vermouth such as Dolin. The Breaking & Entering American Whiskey is perfect for three ingredient whiskey cocktails.
Where to buy it
I found this for $34/bottle at Golden Rule Liquor in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. St. George also makes it easy to locate this whiskey and any of their other spirits on their website using the Spirits Locator.