From Finance To Becoming One Of The Largest Whiskey Distilleries with Adam Spiegel

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated May 11, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

From Finance To Becoming One Of The Largest Whiskey Distilleries with Adam Spiegel

Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by mark

Adam Main Photo 346688
From Finance To Becoming One Of The Largest Whiskey Distilleries with Adam Spiegel 11

Adam Spiegel, a native of San Francisco, is the (Re)Founder & Whiskey maker of Corning & Company. Established prior to the Prohibition era, the company was (Re)founded to provide high-quality and accessible whiskey. Adam also established Sonoma Distilling Company in 2010, one of the earliest distilleries in Sonoma County’s wine country and among the first 200 distilleries in the U.S. He utilizes old-world techniques and crafts whiskey from local grains (usually within 100 miles of the distillery) using traditional Cognac-style pot stills, pre-industrial age American Whiskey, and Scottish techniques. Corning & Company’s portfolio of brands includes Sonoma Distilling Company, Old Quaker, and Pond Fork.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Adam Spiegel is the (Re)Founder & Whiskey maker of Corning & Company
  • How Adam shifted from finance to distilling after being laid off in 2008
  • Becoming a master blender and distiller who is passionate about his work
  • Emphasizing the celebratory aspect of whiskey and having special bottles for memorable occasions
  • Sonoma Whiskey’s pivot to virtual tastings and exclusive club for limited releases
  • Experimenting with different woods for distilling whiskey and spirits
  • Navigating challenges and growing pains in the whiskey industry

In this episode with Adam Spiegel

In this episode with Adam Spiegel, Adam discusses his transition from finance to distilling and how he got started in the industry. How did Corning and Company navigate through the challenges when starting a distillery?

Adam Spiegel is the (Re)Founder & Whiskey maker of Corning & Company, Adam shares his passion for being a master blender and distiller which he has been doing for 14 years. 

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind The Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Adam Spiegel the (Re)Founder & Whiskey maker of Corning & Company. Adam talks about how he transitioned from being a grappa maker to becoming a master distiller through knowledge and experience. He talks about celebrating and creating memories with whiskey especially during the holiday season. He discusses the challenges of selling alcohol in different states, and how they plan to continue expanding their network and promoting their brand through tastings and events.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast, where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. I’ve got a really special guest on the show today, Master Distiller, or actually a Banker turned master distiller before I introduce him, quick message from our sponsor. 

Today’s episode sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy. We’ll highlight your authenticity, tells your story, and connects you with your ideal customers.

In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue. Go to today to learn more. Today, our DTC strategist, Bianca Harmon is joining us. How’s it going, Bianca? 

[00:01:08] Bianca Harmon: Really good, Drew. Very much looking forward to this episode. 

[00:01:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. Today we have Adam Spiegel on the show.

Adam’s the President and Master Distiller of Corning and Company. Adam, how’s it going? Welcome to the show. 

[00:01:21] Adam Spiegel: Thanks. Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. It’s one of those normal Northern California days where it starts at like 45, 50 degrees at seven o’clock in the morning and then gets all the way up to 80 and we’ll get down to 50 again in the evening.

It’s sort of like a picturesque, almost fall day, so I love it. 

[00:01:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, those are my favorite mornings. I love it. I love a good crisp morning, but I especially love it when you have like a nice warm Yeah, I’m not afraid to put on shorts cuz you know it’s gonna get warm soon enough. 

[00:01:46] Adam Spiegel: Gotta wear layers. That is a northern California way. Oh yeah. 

[00:01:50] Bianca Harmon: They wonder why we always bring a sweater wherever we travel to, even if it’s, you know, the east coast 

[00:01:55] Adam Spiegel: Because we know better cuz we know better. 

[00:01:57] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. So Adam, I kind of said it hinted to the start, you got your start in finance, if I’m correct. And yeah. Tell me about this shift from finance to distilling. 

[00:02:08] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. So, 2008, the world sort of melted in the financial world. I was technically working in the sort of financial sales side of things. I was working for a company that was managing money for foundations and endowments. Wow.

And you know, I was in the sort of sales side of that whole world and they invited, you know, 600 people into a room and said, you’re all fired. Yeah. And so I’m sitting out in, the parking lot, in sort of the Silicon Valley area where the office was and realized I just didn’t really have any sort of tangible skills.

I didn’t really know. And now I always make this joke that the zombie apocalypse was hitting and I didn’t know how to kill any zombies. And so I was like, I gotta figure out how to do something right. So I well get ’em drunk. Well, right. I mean, so that, you know, that, that sort of, I sort of fell into that, but, you know, beer quickly turned into wine.

and then, you know, cuz wine season came around in Northern California,you know, in this area you can always buy some grapes and do what you wanna do. If you have The wherewithal in the interest. And then, when you’re done making wine, you’ve got leftover grape skins and twigs and berries.

And so I made, grappa Oh, wow. Which is sort of a traditional Italian leor. You bought a little 15 gallon still off eBay. and then, after that, all whiskey starts as a beer base. So for us it was like, oh, great. Well why don’t I start making some whiskey. And you know, again, it was taking some beer and running it through and seeing what happened.

And eventually sort of realized that the stuff we were making tasted pretty good and you know, how we can make it better and what are the things we could do differently. And so myself and an old business partner, we sort of founded this thing in 2010. And honestly, when we first started, there really wasn’t many people doing it.

We were the 15th distillery in California now. Wow. There’s like over 200 now. Within the first couple hundred United States and now there’s 2300 in growing. They say almost a distillery is still opening almost every day. Isn’t that amazing? It is. Yeah. So, you know, not just crazy entrepreneurs like myself, but there’s a lot of people who’ve sort of fall into this whole thing.

And, so yeah, we’ve been doing it now for 12 years and, you know, we’ve grown our business from what used to be a little 800 square foot facility, and now we’re requesting around 40,000 square feet, so, oh man. It’s pretty cool. 

[00:04:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now, did you enter in it, did you sell beer and wine or?

[00:04:12] Adam Spiegel: No, it was all, for internal consumption, friends, family fools, that sort of thing. It was good, you know, lucky for us, and this is something that I sort of say, would not have been available to us. In the generation before it, you know, was that there was, you know, home brew shops everywhere. I mean, this was sort before the whole home brew, you know, craze sort of hit in the early, you know, 2010 11’s 12’s.

We were on it, we were talking to people and you can go in there and talk to the home brew guys like, Hey man, this went wrong. What could I do differently? And you know, there’s one place up in Santa Rosa called Beverage people. The Beverage people did a terrific job of just like letting us in there answering some good questions.

They even provided little hobby barrels if you wanted to barrel age your beer or whatever you got into. So that sort of stuff was really great. And, I think we just wanted to do something cool and something different. And you know, in our area, Northern California is sort of so ripe with great wine and great beer, and great weed and great food.

So it’s like you’ve got all this sort of stuff happening. People are always like, what’s this next industry? What’s this next thing that we can take and sort of evolve. And so I feel like whiskey is sort of a natural thing for us to be thinking about. 

[00:05:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it’s absolutely blown up. I can tell I’m down in Southern California and over the last 10 years in Northern San Diego here, there’s at least four distilleries within two miles of my house.


[00:05:29] Adam Spiegel: Easily, 

[00:05:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And I’ve asked a few other small craft distillers and yours is one of the first to pop up in California. What was it like getting a license back then to do a distillery? 

[00:05:38] Adam Spiegel: it was interesting. you know, a lot of it was just like no one really knew what to do.

There wasn’t really a playbook. You know, nowadays there’s, it’s sort of like from start to finish, you know what you gotta do to kind of get your distillery going. When we first started, you know, I didn’t really have a playbook. And so, one of the things we did know is like how we wanted to make our product, we were using a direct fired still at that time.

We knew we wanted to make it using a sort of a traditional style still, which called an Olympic And we knew that we wanted to do it in Sonoma County. So we started looking at all the different cities and municipalities in this area and said, Hey, you know, what can we do? here’s what we wanna do? 

Will you talk to us? The majority of cities were like, Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. And then this one city, which is a city we ended up founding ourselves in, called Roner Park, had never heard of a distillery, never had one before. And they were like, come on in, let’s talk and, you know, it was a little bit of a learning curve because they thought we were taking like vats of gasoline and like dumping it over a fire.

Yeah. Teaching them that that was not really how that works. and that these things are non pressurized vessels. So they’re not, ideally, should never blow up because it should never have any pressure at all. If there’s any pressure, it’s a problem. So yeah, those, sort of lessons I think moved us into a place where we were able to be like honest and work really well with them.

And, you know, filling out the TTB license was a little bit of a chore and, you know, bouncing around between liquor lawyers was always sort of, an interesting thing. And yeah, I think just by being sort of humble and honest and just asking really good questions and working hard, we were able to get it going.

And it took us a little less than a year to get all the licensing founded. We sort of made our first bottle in late 2010, early 2011. And it was interesting. It was a really cool place to be. And lucky for us also, we didn’t really start off not knowing how to run a still or not knowing how to like cook a mash or any of the, sort of the things that were like really important to creating this.

[00:07:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. 

[00:07:33] Bianca Harmon: What’s it like being in Sonoma County when you’re surrounded by all of these wineries and then you are the sole distillery? 

[00:07:40] Adam Spiegel: it’s cool. I mean, so there’s always been a natural point between wine and distilleries, right, you know, brandy, right, you know, cognac and that sort of world has always had a really good relationship with the wine world. One of the master distillers that I work with starting in 2013 and 14, was a guy named Hubert Germaine Rabone. He started up, Germaine Rabone Distillery in UK, California. So, you know, and he came from traditional cognac, you know, obviously cognac starts as a wine base. So, you know, there is a lot of that. But, you know, the running joke has always been like a lot of good wine. It’s made with a lot of good beer and a lot of good beer has made a lot of good whiskey and a lot of good whiskey, made a lot of good wine, you know, sort of this little loop of folks.

And so, you know, we’ve had a good rapport with a lot of people here. You know, people, you know, you get p fatigue just like anybody else. And especially the consumers did too when we had our tasting room going. That was such a vibrant scene because people would show up with like the red teeth. You could tell they’ve been wine tasting for like two or three days, and they like, 

[00:08:37] Bianca Harmon: Did you offer them the wine wipes when they got there?

[00:08:40] Adam Spiegel: No. We should have. you know, that would’ve been smarter. But we just like, yeah, we got, you, like, drink some water. Your pallets probably had a whole bunch of like heavy tannic reds, like we’ll help you out. And so that worked out really well. It allowed us to have like a really good sort of contrast to what you typically thought of in this area and, you know, we put our name on the map early, but really we sort of kept our heads down and we’re sort of like myopically focused on making just really good whiskey. We didn’t spend a lot of money on marketing the last 12 years. We’ve done a little bit of this from time to time.

It’s sort of a feaster famine situation on the marketing side. But, we are now starting to let people know we exist and who we are, and we’ve been able to put some money into some of the things that, you know, the accrual hat helps you sell stuff. And so now I’m feeling like, all right, well we got, now we can sort of let the world know we’re here.

And you know, we actually sort of became one of the largest whiskey distilleries, not just in our area, but really in Northern California, if not most of California. I mean, we’re making more whiskey than most people. Most is for our own brands, though nowadays. We’re also making it for other people too.

[00:09:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Talk to me about your brands. So, when you launched you started, I like on your LinkedIn you talk about how you’re the re-founder Corning and Company. Now what was the decision to make, like a parent company? Did you have the vision to go to multiple brands? 

[00:09:56] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. so certainly not when I initially started and not to like, you know, make it sound like I had this, master plan for 12 years, but in 2014, 15 and 16, I started working with a new business partner.

my old business partner, and I sort of went our step ways in 2013. I was on my own for a little while in 14, and then in 15, 16. I picked up a new business partner and he and I have always had his dream of like, growing our facility much bigger and bigger. And Corning actually, was a relation to my new business partner, Sam’s great, great grandfather who used to own the distillery in, Peoria, Illinois. Oh. That was always a house of brands. They had a bunch of stuff. They made some stuff you never really realized they used to make, and they were one of the largest distilleries in the United States in the early 1900s. Oh wow.

And we took the Sonoma Distilling brand, which is one of the ones that we make, and we sort of parked it as a brand versus having it be the company name. 

[00:10:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay, you had the Sonoma Distillery and then you kinda like moved it under the Corning company. 

[00:10:51] Adam Spiegel: Exactly. So it’s one of the, three that we currently have. There are more coming that we’ll be releasing as part of our, you know, product mix. Our family of brands and some of that has to do with just the idea of wanting to not have, when people do contract work with us, they don’t get a bill from Sonoma Distilling company cuz that’s a brand.

It’s sort of, It’s its own little thing, some of it was just like, also just the idea of smart giving brands their place, you know, it’s like a brand should have the attention it needs when you’re talking about, you know, the ethos that’s associated with how you make that thing. So for the Sonoma Distill brand, which these are some of our newer bottles, we have ’em right here.

Oh, that’s slick. Yeah. Thanks. but for like this product, it requires grains grown for the most part in California.Distilled on a traditional pot still made in-house from grain to glass like that’s the rules of this particular brand. But another brand that we have releasing, early next year called Old Quaker, that’s a source brand.

That’s one that we can buy from other places. We can make some of it in-house. We can do a combination of things and it doesn’t have to follow the same set of. And so, you know, you want to be able to have brands sort of have their own story, have their own ethos, and so that you can say true to the, container that you give that particular brand.

[00:12:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. And in the distilled category, probably even more so than wine and beer, is that a lot of the distilleries, you even look through Ireland, you look at the Bardstown distillers most, they all have multiple brands under them. So you’re really following the a tried and true model for spirits.

[00:12:19] Adam Spiegel: Exactly. And then again, going into the contract work we’re now doing for other people too, it’s contract distillation, contract barrel management, contract bottling, you know, we can help a person who’s like, Hey, listen, I wanna start a brand. I have some marketing background, but I have no idea how to like, make whiskey Like we are taking those people and saying, listen, we’ll teach you we’ll, put together a business plan with you.

We’ll help you create some inventory. We’ll help you bring a route to market. We actually have a sales team that we’re affiliated with now too. So we have this sort of like full service that we can provide. And we sort of let those people like really do their strengths, which as somebody who was in this game 12 years ago, kind of doing a little bit of everything, like I recognized early on that like trying to do everything is not the way, like, stay what you’re good at like right now, being a master blender, master distiller, that excites me. That gives me the excitement to go to work every single day and do different things and try new stuff and, you know, that’s what I wanna do the rest of my life, right? Yeah. 

[00:13:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Stepping back, well you mentioned Master Blender, Master Distiller. How did you make the, educational leap from grappa maker to master distiller? 

[00:13:20] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. and honestly it was a title. that I’ve had a little bit of apprehension about actually using, you know, I’ve always said that I think whiskey’s gonna take me the rest of my life to really master. And the good news is I’m young, so I’m not like, not worried about it. Yeah. I mean, I started the distillery up in my mid twenties and now I’m in my late thirties and I’m like still doing it. You know what I mean?

Sure. But you know, the cool part is that like, you know, it’s about knowledge accrued, right? So it’s all this information that I’ve been learning over the last 14 years, unprofessionally and 12 years professionally, right? So it’s like this ability to be able to like, learn it all do stuff, and then some of it has to do with just like, you know, a little bit of being able to, I would say it’s sort of like if I could smell a mash, you know, the originally where a whiskey comes from. And sort of understand and taste it, what it’s gonna taste like when it’s a fully aged whiskey that’s sort of that light bulb moment where you’re like, oh, like I’ve learned that I’ve gone through enough iterations of this thing.

I’ve figured out a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve learned a bunch of stuff. And that’s a mastery in itself, and so I become less focused on that title, being something that defines me, but something that more about like my commitment to this thing. Sure. Which I really wanna continue to do. And I’ve been really excited for that.

And you know, I think it’s a, humbling thing, right? It’s, you know, it’s like, you know, I’m a master, put my pants on in the morning guy, or put my on in the morning person or something, you know what I mean? I dunno. 

[00:14:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Yeah. I do have to admit that I’ve had more than a few bottles of your, whiskey.

Well, thank you. I go particularly, you know, there’s always a whiskey for a time and place and I do a lot of camping on the Russian River, and I seem to always swing by on the way up as I drive up the coast and, get a bottle. So we, I just enjoyed rye actually this year. 

[00:15:00] Adam Spiegel: This year on the camping trip.

Well, thank you. Yeah, we like that. And that’s always the fun part, that was the stuff that really got me excited about. This world is sort of like the celebratory part of it all you know, the family, you know, you’re celebrating good times and bad times, you know, one of the things I always recommend to people sometimes is they get like a special bottle for something. And especially if they open it up, it’s like right on the back, the thing that they opened it up for. So like my brother’s birthday or whatever. Oh yeah. And like have it on there cuz when you go back and you grab it, cause you know, whiskey can stay in the liquor cabinet doesn’t have to be drank within 24 hours or 72 hours like wine does, right? So go back to it again. You’re like, oh yeah, we drank this, my brother’s birthday, we went camping in the Russian River. Like that kind of stuff is fun. And you know, sometimes bottles don’t last that long, which is also fine too, but, I mean, that was really about it.

I just love the idea of the sort of the history and the celebratory part of it all. And, you know, now we’re getting into the holiday season. I mean, this is really our time of year to shine. People always say that like October, November, December is like whiskey time.

So you’ll see a lot of us sort of scrambling and selling a lot of booze and talking a lot because, you know, it gets cold and people wanna do stuff. It’s Thanksgivings and Christmases and Hanukkahs and, you know, Halloween. Like all the sort of stuff that you wanna have something nice and nice and warm For sure.

[00:16:17] Bianca Harmon: Are you guys in any of the restaurants out in Sonoma County? 

[00:16:20] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, totally. So it’s, a little bit of, we’re not everywhere which, you know, at some point I think, you know, it’s been the one area that I’ve always sort of been interested in. It’s like, you know, a lot of the bars and restaurants tout their local food, you know, all their local purveyors and they’re local this, and they’re local that, and then you go to buy a cocktail and it says like, you know, Jack Daniels and whatever. Right, right, right. And you’re like, what I mean? so that’s been the one area that I think has a lot of room for growth, which, you know, also has to do, has be commensurate with, you have to have lots of whiskey to be able to do that too. Which is, I guess, is also good now that we have been able to ramp up production over the last 12 years and we have a lot more availability than we ever did before, you know, it’s been an area of contention where it’s like, why are we not in more places? Why are not more people using our stuff on the regular?

Because we also price it, I think, pretty affordably as well. It’s certainly not as cheap as everyone else’s. Yeah. But yeah. But I mean, we, yeah, we have some, we have, you know, a lot of the Stark Steak Group places of got us in their places, so we’re very lucky in Sonoma County. We’ve got some local folks like them who’ve picked us up and put us in a lot of spots, and they have some locations up in Healdsburg and stuff as well, you know, some of the higher end places like Mathesons has got us in and, Ettes in, Healdsburg, you go down to like Brewsters in Petaluma and Mario and John’s and sort of like all the little stomping grounds in Petaluma area, Sally Tomatoes here in Roar Park. So, yeah, we have a nice little local following. but yeah, we’re always trying to find new spots, right? It’s like, why not? cocktail, 

[00:17:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: How do you go about expanding a reach? 

[00:17:55] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, and also I think a good thing that’s come outta of COVID, not that there’s been like a ton of good stuff that’s come outta COVID, but I think one of the good things that’s come out is that like we all sort of went home, right?

And then we started drinking at home. When we all drinking at home, like we weren’t grabbing like the crap, you know, we weren’t using crap stuff to make cocktails because like, you had like a couple cocktails at home and you were like using like either a gift you got from a family friend, or you’re going out to the store and buying something that would last you a little while and you weren’t spending all that money at the bar restaurant.

And so I think we all sort of premiumized, you know, the ation of whiskey occurred because like we all recognize like, we’re not gonna go back. We’re not gonna go to a bar and be like, yeah, gimme your crap like, whatever you got, just throw it in a bottle and glass, I’ll drink it. And so I, hope that that’s gonna continue, right?

Because I’ve always said it’s quality over quantity, right? If you can use one or two good cocktails in a night, Versus two or three crappy ones, like the price is the same either way or maybe a little less. So why not go ahead and use something you like and then at least it tastes good. 

[00:18:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure, sure. Let’s talk about your whiskey for a second. I really want to kind of figure out, how you ramped up and how you expanded production, especially being with an aged spirit. How did you get your first releases out tomorrow? 

[00:19:03] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, so we stayed focused on making just whiskey from day one, so no gins of vodkas or anything else like that.

[00:19:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: A lot of people will do like the unaged vodka or the unaged whiskey, the, first release or so. 

[00:19:14] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, totally. so we started with little tiny barrels to start. We initially started a little, three gallon barrels became five gallons, became tens, and then fifteens, and then thirties.

So as time went on, our barrel size got bigger and working with Hubbert, one of the things that we, talked a lot about was like not overworking the spirit. So like a three gallon barrel could go like for three or four months and it was done. Five gallon barrel could go for like six or seven months and it was done.

A 10 gallon, you know, invites, you know, so you, it’s, you know, it’s usually, it was like a gallon per month was usually the, trick to be the floor and then it was little, just ever so slightly above that. and that’s a minimum, right? Just not to over oak it. And our whiskeys, even today, they taste good.

They taste round and, ready to go to bottle. They’re just not old, right? We don’t have a ton of old whiskey.  Even today using the standard 53 gallon barrel size, or sometimes we’ll use a quarter cast, which is a 30 gallon barrel. Now we end up, releasing whiskey that’s minimum of two.

This is all straight, but realistically it’s three, four, and five years old. Okay. And so even our stuff today doesn’t have that over Oakness doesn’t taste, too tannic. So we’re trying to, it’s sort of in many ways we’re trying to fight the oak cuz that’s just, oh really? That’s sort of the story of whiskey.

It’s has to go into a new char, American oak Barrel for a lot of American spirits. So 

[00:20:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. For bourbon, you’re gonna be that way. Bourbon, Rye whiskey, more like the Irish style or a lot of the, European whiskeys are they don’t have that heavy wood treatment. 

[00:20:38] Adam Spiegel: Different rules.

Exactly. So yeah. Single malts, Irish whiskeys, a lot of stuff you can use, use casts, which gives you a much more softer environment. The wood is nicely primed for long term maturation. You get some good oxidization just like you would any, anywhere else. But what you don’t get is you don’t get that oak bomb.

a lot of the color you see from our whiskey, I mean if you look at a whiskey like this, like it’s got a lot of color just strictly from the new Char, American Oak Barrel. Yeah. And that’s really what’s driving that flavor profile. 

[00:21:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, so the light on the oak, let the whiskey part come through. Where do you source your grains? And 

[00:21:11] Adam Spiegel: so the majority of our games come from California, largely in the Solano County area. this year is gonna be a challenge because of the drought. We are finding, some of our grains providers, we work with a lot of farms all over the state, and they’re saying, listen, we are at 50%, you know, we’re at 40%, we’re at six, we had 60% loss this year.

No joke. And so what that’s doing is it’s pushing up the price of our grains dramatically, right? Yeah. The supply and demand. And then at the same time it’s, just making some grains unavailable. And so for the first time in a long time, we’re gonna have to start buying some grains outta the state on more of a consistent basis.

Which is maybe okay too. you know, it’s sort of like a vintage though. Our whiskeys sort of get blended, so you may not even really taste it anyway, but, for the most part, if I, did stuff as. You know, a bottled in bond four years or five years from now.

Like, it’s a time and place. it happened, you know, this, time was difficult for people to source grains and, source water. And so now we’re at a place where it’s like, what do we do? What, where do you get stuff? So, majority of our grades come from California and majority I mean, obviously the water’s coming from our area.

Lake Sonoma’s our water source, it comes out of our taps here. And then we use a water source from Cob Mountain Springwater. Oh. Which is how we proof it down from casting to bottle strings. So we have to add water from a barrel to a bottle. So we just use a local water source. It brings a little bit of minerality and flavor.

Yeah. As a kid, he used to drive up to Lake County, they’d be, you know, the hippies sort of selling the water on the side of the road. They always had that medicinal value to it. Whatever. yeah, I mean that was, it’s further emphasizes the sense of place that you’re, it really does. Yeah. I mean that’s, you know, that’s always the part about when you start up your own business, regardless of whatever it is in particular also spirits is that you, it’s so much of who you are gets sort of transformed and interweaved into this whole thing. And so like little stories like that.

And, you know, the other day I was, doing a whiskey tasting and, someone saw one of our tasting notes that my cherry wood rye, I wrote like new leather on there, like, why new leather? I was like, well, this whiskey reminds me of like a 1984 Volvo. And they’re like, totally get it. Like, I don’t even know how that memory like this worked, but like, that’s sort of the really fun part about distilled spirits, it’s such a, you know, a memory driven Oh yeah. experiential experience. And so, at that moment we connected and they’re like, oh, totally get it. 1984 Volvo. You should put that on the tasting notes. I was like, okay. 

[00:23:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely.

And it, so much experimentation. you mentioned your cherry wood. talk to me about some of your wood, wood experiences. I know I, as a reference, I was back in, do a lot of whiskey tasting, but right before COVID I was toured the Jameson Distillery in, Ireland. And they’ve got a micro distillery in their method madness.

when you’re at that distillery, they must have 40 different, distillates with all different woods. Yeah, it was really neat to go through all the different types of cast. 

[00:23:54] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. So we, have a smoker on site, so we actually have it, we smoke our malted barley with California cherry trees.

So that’s how you get Oh, I see. Our cherrywood smoked. bourbon in our chair was smoked rye and that is how we differentiate those products cuz that smokey flavor comes through nicely, it adds a nice chewable smoke to it. You know, people who also like, like Smokey S cotches, it’s a really good sort of liaison for those who wanna try something a little different and 

[00:24:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Cherrywood aged. It’s actually the rye, like almost like a pitted cherry. 

[00:24:28] Adam Spiegel: Exactly. It’s like we went from a different direction rather than going with a peat, which is like a you know, a moss in it. It burns a little bit differently. The cherry wood. 

[00:24:34] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You one have a lot of in Sonoma, so it. 

[00:24:36] Adam Spiegel: We don’t, there is some though, and there’s there question.

There’s been people who’ve asked me if I wanted to make some, and I was like, ah, maybe. I don’t know. I feel like sometimes you can leave stuff for the purist, right? Like leave stuff in the peat for the scotch, maybe, I don’t know. But it is interesting. there is. So just to sort of close that point.

Yeah. I mean, the cherry woods are local because we get local cherry trees, you know, these cherry trees are grown typically in Stockton, California. So we get this nice local cherry tree in, we dry age the wood. we cold smoke the malted barley for about, at 90 degrees for about 40 hours. And that’s how you get all that smokey flavor into the grains, you’re turning the grains every single day. And then you use those grains to make you whiskey. And so that’s how the smokiness gets in there. And I think some of the best selling products we have are our cherry woods these days.

Actually, those seem certain times of year. certain markets, like where we’ve never heard of us before, they’re like, oh, makes total sense, like bacon and barbecue. Got it. Makes, makes, makes perfect sense. So yeah, I think, we’re trying to hit that foodie drinker a little bit. We’re trying to hit that person who wants to experiment and try new things and cares about not just buying like the big guy whiskey, but maybe also wants to try like a little person whiskey too. Well it’s, and you know, we’re doing our thing. 

[00:25:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Well, as far as all you’re experimenting, I mean, we, cherry was a success, but I always like to say in, in all your experiments, is there anything that went really awry? And I’m never gonna make that. 

[00:26:00] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. One time we attempted to blend apple juice in with a whiskey and make sort of like a apple whiskey. I was visiting a friend of mine in Denver who’s got a distillery called Leopold Brothers, Todd Leopold, and he makes, an apple whiskey there similarly, but different his executions much better. And we tried it and it was like, ooh.

and it wasn’t that it was bad, it was just that like the pectin in the apples like separated in there and it looked like a giant snow globe and it settled out really not like if you let it sit there in a tank, like all the juice would flow up on top and it was just like, you could like pump it out, but you would lose a lot of alcohol in, in all of.

The solids underneath. And so, 

[00:26:44] Bianca Harmon: so you were decided you’re just gonna stick with the ones you’re good at smoking? 

[00:26:49] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, I mean, yeah or just put it on the shelf and be like, okay, well, you know, in hindsight I probably would’ve filtered the juice first. And that helped me avoid some of the quantification and the weird, solids that occurred and, you know, We didn’t lose a lot. We actually, the funniest thing we did is in the end, cuz the whiskey was already like three, four and five years old, and then we blend it with the apple juice. We actually, we threw it through a still, we actually distilled it again. Oh, okay, and made this like really weird like apple whiskey distillate.

But I think we put back a barrel. Where the heck is that? I have no idea where. It’s fantastic now. I mean, I bet you it is. Cause when you distill stuff that’s been aged out too, like all of those, like wood tannins actually come through. Like you could taste it’s like an unaged spirit, but it tastes old, but it doesn’t have any color and it’s like weird. I It was, that would be wild. It was wild. 

[00:27:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, we got not a distillery. We had a meadery on the other day and I asked them what they would never do again, and it was ferment watermelon, apparently it doesn’t work. Fresh watermelon great. Don’t ferment it. 

[00:27:49] Adam Spiegel: Was that a local meadery? 

[00:27:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it was down in San Diego. It was Ohm 

[00:27:53] Bianca Harmon: Temecula Meadery, that’s right. 

[00:27:55] Adam Spiegel: Very cool. Yeah, that’s an interesting, that’s an interesting indu a little industry too. I mean, I have some friends of mine in Vermont who make, they’re called Bar Hill and they make, gins and vodkas out of honey, which is really exciting and fun. Yeah, there’s a local one here called Hedron, which does like a covet style, like a really dry sparkling, mead, which is, 

[00:28:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That sounds really good. 

[00:28:17] Adam Spiegel: Pretty delicious. I mean, and it’s really cool. I, as I sort of talk about local stuff, like you get a chance to try different honeys from different places and so like if you have one sell like a carrot and a rutabaga and like a Macadamian nut. It’s like whatever the bee touches grab so much of that flavor out and then you try and you’re like, oh, that’s cool. 

Yeah, that’s some interesting stuff there. I like it. Terroir, what they call it, I guess like, it’s like primal Terroir.

[00:28:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. Let’s talk about your distributions. So you sell your whiskeys online, but is most of it through the three tier? 

[00:28:50] Adam Spiegel: It has to be, yeah. So we are, no longer what’s considered a craft distiller in the, state of California because we took out an importer’s license so we can bring other products in from other states and, and other countries and bottle it here in California.

[00:29:01] Bianca Harmon: Does that mean you’re not allowed to have a tasting room? If not, well, we can have one. It’s just we can’t really monetize it cause they can’t sell bottles directly. So current lender, California current law now of course, Hopefully that will change one day that needs to evolve.

Oh, totally. you know, if you make more than 150,000 gallons a year, which is like a fly on a fly’s butt compared to the big guys. We are considered a big distillery. And so we can’t sell bottles directly. And so all of our stuff goes to the three tier system. We sell it to either, a distribution point on the East coast, or our retailer here in California, ship it through our website, and so if you buy a bottle on website, which we totally encourage people to do, you know,, not my shameless post. Yeah. But, if you wanna buy bottles on our website, depending on where you are, it will ship from one of those two places and everybody gets their tax money, they’re super happy about it.

We lose 50% of our margin, but at the end of the day, it’s a good way for us to expand our network, expand what we do. Currently, we’re only in 12 states for distribution though, so we’re in 

[00:30:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Who do you use for the out-of-state? 

[00:30:05] Adam Spiegel: So right now we use a company called Big Thirst for that one. And they do a lot of that work through our website, then our distribution network we work with both distributors big and small. So we’re with RNDC in California and other states, we’re with, breakthrough in a couple of markets which is sort of another medium to big sizes distributor.

We’re some smaller guys in places like Texas, in Missouri and Minnesota, and Michigan. But you know, as time goes on, we’re gonna continue to sort of grow, our network. And we really don’t want to be everywhere yet because we don’t have enough volume. And so much of our business is just like, if we go into a market, we need to have boots on the ground to be able to support, you know, I always used to hate when people would just like, sell a bottle to a retailer and be like, all right, well, let me know how it goes. It’s like, yeah, that’s, I wanna work that market. I wanna go out there and say hello and do like things like whiskey dinners. And in-store tastings and that sort of stuff, you know, if you don’t like doing that sort of stuff, like you’re just in the wrong game, like that’s what this business really, truly is at its core. 

[00:31:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, talking about California law, it is amazing that you grow to a certain size and you can no longer have a tasting room. And then there’s such a model across the United States, like especially back, you know, in Kentucky with all the big distilleries all having, being able to do distillery tours and connected with restaurants and that whole like whiskey trail tourism.

[00:31:26] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. Some of it is just that biggest opposition to change is really the distributors, and I’m not speaking illow about them. I wouldn’t say anything to them. I wouldn’t say to their face. I think that there’s a misconception that like if we sell bottles directly, it’ll mean less bottles that they have to sell.

And if anything, like if I make more margin selling bottles directly, ultimately that means that I gain more money for r and d and money for benefits my employees and more money for, you know, if I do my job right and I sell some bottles, and it’s like, it makes sense, I’m going to continue to go through distribution indefinitely. Yeah, and I don’t have the ability to sell. I don’t have the ability to pay a hundred salespeople in the state of California, like RNDC does, right? So they’re the best salespeople I could, our best fulfillment house I could possibly have cause they got trucks and cars and people and all sorts of stuff.

[00:32:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure, sure. a couple weeks ago I was talking to Gareth Moore. He’s, head of the Virginia Distillery and he’s just setting up his big, facility and they also can’t, so it was really, they have the third party. When you buy a bottle at the Virginia Distillery, you’re actually buying through the third party that’s not part of the distillery.

And then they have to figure out the cutback. 

[00:32:34] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. I mean that’s, you know, I mean, I would even take that if I could, I mean, just because of the amount of tourism we get through Sonoma County. We used to see people all the time. It was such a fun, I mean, I also missed that, like, that laughter and noise and people having fun and like that look on people’s face when you teach ’em about something that, That was a really fun part of having a tasting room. During our little COVID pivot, we used to do virtual tasting, so that was a big thing we still do today, but 

[00:32:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, how do you conduct those? So it’s through Zoom. So similar to a thing like this where, we’ll work with a group of, you know, anywhere from 20 to 200 people, depending on, the biggest one I did was 155 people. And, we ship the cases through our third party system. So they would go through, we can ship the 40 states and we have our virtual tasting kits which are like a four pack and it has some grains and a glass and a pipette and a little tasting mat and Oh geez. And we ship it all on our website and they would basically work with my marketing team to set up a tasting.

Then they get me for like an hour and we go through, we conduct a tasting and I teach ’em about how we make whiskey from grain to glass and what that means. And it really was a good COVID pivot. Initially. We were like, oh, we’ll sell a couple hundred of these. And sort of like, you know, and then we ’em selling thousands of them, which was really great and we still do them, there’s some companies who still use us as like their like comic relief. Like I go into like a sales meeting, no joke. I’ll go into a sales meeting for like 15 minutes. I’ll do like a high level tasting. And then it is like, all right, thank you for coming to our sales meeting, bye Adam. And I’ll just leave. And it works great. And it works. It’s a really good way to, as an icebreaker. It’s, not traditional like a wine tasting. Yeah. and you know, we can ship to 40 states now, so it’s like we’re all game. It’s a great opportunity for us. 

Oh, absolutely. So you’ll, sit the company will purchase all these tasting kits for all the people that are on the call or in the meeting.

[00:34:18] Adam Spiegel: Exactly. We’ll ship ’em with enough time, lead time to get to ’em. And we set up a zoom. 

[00:34:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s a great idea, and continue this kind of conversation about talking about community. you’ve ramped up a club. Talk to me about your club. 

[00:34:30] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, so it’s not a traditional club in the sense that we require people to buy bottles on a quarterly basis or a monthly basis. There’s no cash commitment, really what it is, is sort of like you’re in the inner circle. And so we have a release of some cool stuff, twice a year. You’re gonna get noticed about it. First, you’re gonna have a club page you can go to to buy it for first. It allows us to have that sort of, that direct interaction cause I’ll do like a tasting on there. So we’ll invite the club to, to show up and show up at a Zoom if they can ask questions. If they like, and we don’t provide discounts because again, we’re losing money through the three tier system. So fundamentally we can’t fundamentally do that because of just a margin associated with doing it.

But it does allow us to. connect with people connect with people now in different states and release new products and sort of get some, like direct, honest, its feedback like, Hey, what do you think about this? Like, how have you used it? Like, I’m gonna encourage people during our club releases to like, make cocktails with it and throw it on their website and tag us at Sonoma Whiskey and like those sorts of com those, that sort of community we can build.

And, you know, it’s small right now we’re, a couple hundred people deep, but I think as time goes on, again, because there’s no cash commitment because this sort of 

[00:35:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So you sign up, but you don’t really have to buy anything. You just get access to these limited releases. 

[00:35:42] Adam Spiegel: And when it sells out, it sells out, right? W e release, you know, a single barrel of 150 bottles. 

[00:35:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. talk me on some of these limited releases. what can people expect? 

[00:35:50] Adam Spiegel: So it can be sort of one of two things, or maybe three things. So it’s like the mainstay stuff we have fresh batches of, which are like, you know, I just did a blend of my rye whiskey, or my cherry wood rye or whatever. And we, put that on the website. And then it’s other things like single barrels, which are like, rather than doing a full blend of like two or 3000 gallons. I’m taking a, you know, a 30 gallon barrel or a 53 gallon barrel and I’m dumping it in to a tank and then bottling it as its own unique expression.

And then sometimes it’s brand new releases. So, at some point next year we’re gonna try releasing like a bourbon cream, for example. Like we made a small batch of it. Love to get some consumer feedback on it. The club has first access to it, you know, sort of like a Bailey style that we can make here or we do other small releases. Like we have a black truffle rye whiskey we release once a year, which uses real French parago, black truffles in it. interesting. Yeah. Or like a wheat whiskey, which I meant literally blending right now. so stuff like that we can just release and small enough lots and it doesn’t really detract from who we are.

And it lets people sort of stay connected to sort of the nuance of what we can do. Not that we do our jobs, right? And people like it. We’ll start releasing it to the general public. We’ll make more of it. We can start ramping up production if we need to pretty quickly. 

[00:36:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I think that’s an excellent idea for all distilleries. I wish more we’re doing it. there’s one distiller I do belong to their, barrel club Malahat. They’re down by me and they’re always doing something very experimental and then the, best stuff always makes it out or they’ll do the higher proof versions for us.

Yeah. And I think the last one was they do a lot of collabs with breweries. 

[00:37:16] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. I’ve seen the ones with the whale on the label, right? 

[00:37:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. They got the whale. 

[00:37:19] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. That’s cool. Yeah. I respect that. I mean, again, this is why we wanna be a craft distiller, even if I’m not legally labeled as one in the state of California, like, I’m still tiny. So yeah, we wanna have that direct connection. We want be able to stay small, and even if we go to scale up, like, you know, I’m doing it the hard way. None of these products, unfortunately, are gonna have the buzz name or the peanut butter whiskey, or the thing that people are all of a sudden gonna be like, oh my gosh, it’s amazing.

Let’s, tell all our friends tomorrow. 

[00:37:46] Bianca Harmon: I think that’s good though. I think that’s good. Let’s, well, and again, because it’s a long game, right? Like, I’ve met people at trade shows and in the tasting room and randos who just stopped by the distillery, and I’ve got a chance to get to know people. for years, almost, in some cases a decade. And they’ve seen our growth and they know who we are and I can connect with them and they can sort of say they’ve seen us. They’ve seen us. They’ve tasted us some stuff. They’ve absolutely loved some stuff. They’ve been like, eh. And so that’s been really good to have that long, vision for how to build clients cuz that’s really what whiskey is. I mean, if you go to a traditional Scottish distillery, you go to distilleries in Kentucky, these are not new distilleries. They’ve been around for a long, long time. And they’ve gone through, they’ve figured a lot of stuff out, the century ago. And now it’s just a matter of, you know, repetition and, trying to continue to move the chains ever so slightly.

[00:38:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. as you’re growing, what sort of growing pains, does a distillery face as they reach the different thresholds from the first batch, you’ve lost your craft, you had to stop the tasting room. Talk to me about the growing pains or challenges?

[00:38:50] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, the challenges. I think the challenges that we’ve had are things like, I mean, there’s stuff inside and outside of control. COVIDwas a real No, geez. Yeah, swift kick in the crotch, you know, the ability to not sell directly, that also didn’t help much either cuz I really felt like we were building some nice momentum here on site.

but also, you know, like we’re in wood shortages right now, or a drought in the state of California. I mean, these are challenges that everybody’s facing, but like, it just sort of seems like when we start catching some momentum, it’s like, and it’s like, it’s like external influences.

Exactly. It’s like I finally thought I was at the top of the hill and now I’m just rolling back. But, so you got stuff like that that’s sort of inside and out during control. And then it’s also, you know, like growing pains of like not having enough supply to be able to be in 30 markets, 50 markets. Yeah.

Not have enough, you know, a ton of money to be able to put into a hundred salespeople throughout the United States and try to blow this thing out, another challenge we ran into, so this is a new custom glass, a new custom bottle we designed, our bottle mold.

[00:39:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s like that lambic kind of top to it. 

[00:39:54] Adam Spiegel: Yeah. It’s sort of meant to be like a wine bottle meets whiskey bottle has a nice punt at the bottom too. So, our stock bottle during COVID, we got a phone call from our supplier being like, your stock bottle’s outta stock and we’re like, how does a stock bottle run outta stock?

Like, isn’t that the whole purpose of a bottle? And so we’re like, all right, well, we’re just gonna make our own bottle like, we’re tired of having to be beholden to you guys. I like that these bottles also have like a second life too. So, you know, a lot of times people use these for like water jugs, a couple of restaurants, or they’ll like saw off the tops and they’ll make ’em the candles or they’ll put ’em into vasse s or whatever. And so, you know, now we have our name, you know, physically imprinted forever. That’s cool. Yeah. So those are some of the challenges we run into but you know, I think sometimes those things make you stronger and it always makes these sort of question like, why were we doing that before?

Like, should we have gone with a non-standard stock bottle a year ago, 10 years ago? Would that have helped our route to market if we weren’t using the same bottle as like 10 different distilleries? Probably. 

[00:40:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s the best part about challenges is it forces you to make the question, are we doing this correctly?

And now’s the time to change. If we aren’t better things just full steam ahead, you never kind of change directions. 

It’s true, it’s true. the best analogy I used to hear a long time ago, I’ll be quick about this, was, it’s like they planted a tree inside of one of those biodomes trying to find the best way to see how this tree could grow.

And they were feeding it with the best nutrients and the best water and the best everything. And it, just kept on falling over and they’re like, why is this tree falling over? And they determined that it actually has to do not so much with like the environment of like what you put on it or the heat or whatever. it’s the wind, because the tree wasn’t getting anything to push it back to force it, to stay up. And it wasn’t, facing any challenges that essentially made it sort of become strong enough to stand up. And so it’s an interesting way to think about it. 

[00:41:39] Bianca Harmon: I really like that. 

[00:41:41] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, I just, it’s from a book called Think Like a Monk, so I, can’t claim that, but it was one of those COVID reads, but yeah.

Oh, yeah, it’s definitely something to think about, I think people oftentimes, you know, adversity is good. If I didn’t go through it, I would probably not be doing this if I kept on doing my same thing and the financial crisis didn’t hit, you know, I might not be in this field.

[00:42:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, it’s, it’s amazing how life just kinda life happens as you’re preparing for something else? 

[00:42:08] Adam Spiegel: Oh, indeed, indeed, indeed. 

[00:42:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now, when you’re drinking your whiskey, are you doing it straight or are you doing old fashions? What’s your favorite way to drink? 

[00:42:15] Adam Spiegel: It really depends. It depends on what kind of a day you catch me on what I’m doing.

If I’m having the guests at the house, like we’ll do Manhattans and RDAs and, you know, whiskey highballs and that sort of stuff. If I’ve been drinking outta the barrels during the day and trying to like dial in my blends and stuff like, I oftentimes will just be like either like a beer or a nice cold, like glass of wine like I got no problem with that, that’s easy peasy for me. 

[00:42:41] Bianca Harmon: Yeah, that’s a lot man, tasting whiskey. All like on the regular? 

[00:42:46] Adam Spiegel: On the regular, like multiple times a day, M ultiple days a week. Yeah, I mean, it can be tough, you know, again, like I don’t usually drink coffee and, you know, actually I stop drinking coffee for the most part most of the time.

But you stop drinking coffee because of just sort of like, it throws off your palate. You don’t brush your teeth in the morning until midday cause it throws off your palate, you know, don’t usually eat lunch or breakfast. That’s super spicy, you know what I mean? It’s like stuff like that.

But yeah, I mean, if I’m drinking, that’s how I would do it, traditional cocktails, I’ll do great with my stuff. Do you wanna do something a little different like that? Smokey, you know, a nice, smoked Manhattan, if you wanna do that with a smoked bourbons or smoked dry whiskeys. Those are also really fun, you know, the paper airplane was sort of my, cocktail of COVID, you know what I mean? 

[00:43:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What’s the paper airplane I have? 

[00:43:28] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, paper planes are good. I mean, literally like three ingredients. It’s basically like lemon juice, apple and, either a rye whiskey or a bourbon, an apple.

[00:43:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay. 

[00:43:40] Adam Spiegel: And it’s like, the goal is to just make it like, it’s usually neat in an up glass. So it’s just super easy to drink. It kind of has like this like this sort of like, slushy, not like sort of vibe to, it had like this really easy, apparently it was sort of developed by deaf and company founder just sitting there one day shooting the crap.

But, yeah, so that was cool. but yeah, I mean, I think I drink a lot of stuff. The only things I really don’t drink personally are like IPAs and like super tannic reds. Like, I’m not like, someone’s like, I’m gonna get you a bottle of Cal Sauv. I’m like, don’t with all due respect this, I don’t.

[00:44:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Not to your palate? 

[00:44:15] Adam Spiegel: No, just, I mean, it just, I mean, again, if I’m drinking whiskey all day long, like do I need more tannic, chalky things than my mouth? Like, not necessarily 

[00:44:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: The thing during COVID, I got really into the New York sours. Whiskey, a little splash of wine and, lemon juice. I probably didn’t make it quite correctly, but 

[00:44:32] Adam Spiegel: No, that’s cool. Yeah. 

[00:44:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I float on thetop is Really good.

[00:44:35] Adam Spiegel: I love that, also try a Brooklyn cocktail too. my oldest daughter’s named Brooklyn, so that also is cheating cuz I do those and kind of like, I’m drinking a Brooklyn, but it’s, you know, it’s basically just a Manhattan, but they use, you know, sweet and driver moth and they use, like pecan bitters.

But it’s delicious too. Our stuff does really well and those sort of things. And you know, again, that’s, part of it too, is if you just look up some recipes online, figure out the ratios. You can kind of play around a lot and sub one thing out, sub out the apple, put in chanar, and next thing you know, you got something that tastes completely different and Oh, you know, I think that’s one of the fun stuff about the home cocktailing that I think is also seeing some growth, certainly because of COVID 

[00:45:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It is. The whole category is just blown up and it’s only good for you guys. I mean, to be bright in that base, this whole, cuz back in the day when I was selling spirits, cocktails were not back in my day, way out, back in the nineties.

No, it’s been good to see. Yeah. So as we’re kind of wrapping down here, I like to always ask, and you’re definitely 10 years of the growth that you’ve had, you’re motivated. What keeps you driven?

[00:45:36] Adam Spiegel: I think every single day I come to this place and I have no idea what I’m walking into and sometimes that can be like a pull your hair out, like stressful situation. As you can see, I’ve already lost most of that. But, I think it’s the unknown of what that day is gonna bring, that’s really exciting. I also think it’s just, you know, the idea that like small nano changes that we make on mash cooking, fermentations, distillations, whatevers today, I could taste those in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years. And like, I’m just making things like ever so slightly better, even if it’s marginally better. I mean, it’s like 1% better than it was before. You do that a whole bunch of times over the course of days, weeks, years, decades. It’s gonna make for a really good product. And so, you know, hiring some good people here, I’ve got an amazing staff who supports me and what I do allows me to do podcasts and stuff like that.

I mean that, you know, these folks are the smartest people we’ve ever had in this facility ever. And so that brain trust is making us better and making our products better. And I think in time it’s gonna make for when I go to blend that whiskey in three years, four years, 10 years, whatever, I just have so much more good stuff to work with.

And so that keeps me really excited. 

[00:46:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure, yeah. Also that future, seeing how the raw materials, cuz you’re right now at 3, 4, 5, but give yourself another 20 years, you’ll have that just deep pool of things to play around with. 

[00:47:00] Adam Spiegel: Well, I’d love to do both, right? I’d love to have like the three, four fives and then have like the seven, eight nines and then, you know, maybe even have some of the 10, 11 12s.

And then you just sort of have like these different pockets of different products that are like, all right, well this one is meant to be this, one’s meant to be that, you know, different price points because again, not, you know, not everybody wants to spend an atrocious amount of money on, on a whiskey, but Im making whiskey for the every person, you know, I like having our stuff be that $40 bottle, which is still expensive by some people’s standards, but like, you know, it’s, utility, you can pour it, the cocktails you import neat. Oh yeah, that’s a good 3, 4, 5 year old right there, and then 

[00:47:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: In 2022 of $40 bottles, that’s a great price point with everything. 

[00:47:37] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, I would say it’s sort of like where I wanna price it so my friends can buy a bottle like for a long time when we first started, we were like much more expensive especially if you look at the smaller, we were using 375s and then now 750s is the full. And so like, you know, my friends couldn’t buy my bottles. Like, yeah, we love you, your stuff, but like the cocktail, the place is like 20 bucks. I’m like, I’m sorry. Nowadays to have it be like, you know, $14 for a cocktail, like, it makes it feel like your friends can support you and 

[00:48:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s great. Yeah. So Adam, kinda wrapping down, where can people find out more about you, Corning and Company and Sonoma Distillers? 

[00:48:11] Adam Spiegel: Yeah, so, go to our website, so Great place for us right there. at Sonoma Whiskey’s, our handle for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

So Sonoma Whiskey, Sonoma whiskey on both of those. You can always join our club if they’re interested. If you go to, all formation on our club is right there. signup page, as simple as I mentioned, it’s free so people can just go on there and, join just a to know what’s going on.

And then, yeah, we have a newsletter we also send out from time to time too. So if you go to our website as well, you can sign up for our newsletter. It lets you know about all the cool stuff that’s going on here. We do cocktail releases and stuff. And, you know, as we start to settle in and we probably have a bit more room, like I’d love to be able to invite people back to the distillery even if we can’t sell the models directly. Just have open houses and let this sort of be like a Willy Wonka, let people, you know, hang out with the Oompa Loompa situation, cuz like, that’s really what I think people want and that’s what I think is missing in at least Northern California, go to Kentucky, you can do the bourbon trail. You can kind of do that whole thing and it’s a whole experiential thing, you know, distillery just there’s not a lot of us out here. So, you know, the more we can do, that sort of events, I’m excited to do those in the future. 

[00:49:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Well, Adam, thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:49:23] Adam Spiegel: Thank you. I appreciate you having me. And again, enjoy the rest of your day and, if anybody have any questions for us, please obviously email us. We’d love to be in touch with everybody who wants to know more about how to make whiskey in Sonoma 
[00:49:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Awesome. Thank you.