Check out our interview with Adam Spiegel of Sonoma County Distilling Company! He walks us through the distillation process from grain to bottle.

Two shiny stills, so little time.

The Big Picture of making whiskey

Step 1

The first part of the process is to purify the water through reverse osmosis, then create the mash.

Step 2:

Allow the mash to undergo fermentation, then separate the solids from the liquids. The liquid is now called the wash. The solids go to a local farm, and the liquid goes into the still. At this point the ABV is between 8-10% and is known as Distiller’s Beer.

Step 3:

Let’s fire up the stills! Since the liquid is only 8-10% alcohol, the still will help to separate the alcohol from a portion of the water. The first run of the distillation will result in a liquid that is called “low wine”. It is then transported to the smaller still where more water will be stripped away, the alcohol percentage will be raised, and the result will be a “high wine” or spirit which can range from 65-70%. This spirit is then brought down to barrel strength with the addition of water. Now it’s off to the rickhouse for barrel aging.

Step 4:

One of the unique techniques about the barrel aging process is that Adam uses a few different size barrels in different stages of the barrels life cycle to extract different flavors for the whiskey. First aged in new charred American oak barrels and the final whiskey is finished in a previously used barrel.

Final Step:

All that delicious whiskey is finally ready for bottling. If you are looking for a excuse to hang out with some fun people and help Adam and his crew bottle their next batch of whiskey, contact them via their website. I will attest that you will have fun, and get a chance to learn a few things about the production of whiskey.

Closing Thoughts:

We got a chance to ask Adam a few questions that gave some great insight into the world of the craft spirit industry. Make sure to check out the questions starting at 7:28 of the video. Our heart-felt gratitude to Adam Spiegel of the Sonoma County Distilling Company, and make sure to check out their Facebook page, and share your photos if you are enjoying his product.

If you are looking for their whiskies, check out or, they both ship too!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.