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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

19 November, 2018 - Sonoma Distilling Co & Don Landis, The Olive Guy

 Tonight is Slow Living Radio's tribute to two of Sonoma County's artisans - a distiller and an olive aficianado. Adam Spiegel, of Sonoma Distilling Co. and Don Landis, affectionately called the Olive Guy, bring us their own taste of paradise in Sonoma.

Sonoma Distilling Company Looks Ahead – the Evolution of a Craft Brand 

Pioneering Northern California Craft Whiskey House Heads into a Busy Fourth Quarter with Refreshed Branding, Seasonal 'Distiller’s Edition' Releases and an Expanded Production Facility

Now in its eighth year, Northern California grain-to-glass whiskey pioneer, Sonoma Distilling Company (formerly Sonoma County Distilling Co) announces several key company developments in the final quarter of the year, speaking to the brand’s continued growth and evolution in the national craft spirits arena. From the roll-out of refined packaging and the launch of an annual 'Distiller’s Edition' series of seasonal whiskey releases, to an expanded production facility and steady growth plan, Sonoma Distilling Company is primed for a new chapter, one which solidifies its long-term commitment to being California’s premier whiskey producer.

Refreshed look and feel. This month, the brand rolls out new branding, designed by award-winning Central California-based beverage branding team Makers & Allies (San Luis Obispo). The new bottle design, labels and assets communicate the craft luxury nature of Sonoma Distilling Company’s Premium California Whiskeys and a connection and commitment to a “sense of place" – taking design cues from the unique blend of both industrial and agricultural (including winemaking) surroundings of the Sonoma County-based distillery (among the first in wine country). Textures and colors like copper, metal, wood, grains, and water are presented with bold, vintage-inspired fonts, fusing modern and innovative with traditional – synonymous with the Sonoma region and, importantly, with Sonoma Distilling Company’s approach to its craft. The result is a look and feel which reflects the brand’s journey and ethos: established and high-quality luxury, yet artisanal and sustainably-minded.

“After eight years of focusing entirely on refining and improving the whiskey in our bottles, we were ready to shift to packaging which reflected the maturation of both the company and brand and our commitment to continued leadership as a premier Sonoma-based California whiskey house,” states Adam Spiegel, Sonoma Distilling Company Founder and Whiskeymaker. “With an established and growing distribution channel (CA, NY, IL, MN, FL and throughout Europe), we were looking for packaging which would speak for itself in the market as a high-quality, luxury craft whiskey brand, yet one with its roots in this artisan-focused community of Sonoma. The packaging created by Makers & Allies reflects our values and craft, while expressing the nuances which make our whiskey – and our production heritage and origins – unique.”

The Distillery uses Copper Pot Stills

The Portfolio: new seasonal bottlings, product names and release dates. 

Well-timed to the fall and holiday season ahead, the brand has launched this month two highly regarded expressions:  Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon (formerly West of Kentucky #1, awarded 95 points by Jim Murray in the 2018 Whiskey Bible) and Sonoma Cherrywood Rye Whiskey, which together comprise the new 'Distiller’s Edition' seasonal releases (both offered at $49.99 SRP nationally) -- expressive products that give the small distillery a chance to create uniquely flavorful and distinctive whiskeys that aren’t found anywhere else. Given the new packaging launch, the Distillery has rolled out the duo together for the holiday season ahead, but beginning in 2019, the Sonoma Cherrywood Rye Whiskey will be released each spring and the Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon will be the Distillery’s special annual fall release. The brand’s flagship expressions, Sonoma Rye Whiskey and Sonoma Bourbon Whiskey, will continue to be offered annually, in 750 ml and – new this fall - 1 Liter format (for on-premise only). 

About Sonoma Distilling Company

Founded in 2010 by San Francisco native Adam Spiegel, Sonoma Distilling Company is one of the first 200 distilleries in the country, a pioneer whiskey producer in California, and one of the very first in Sonoma wine country. Spiegel discovered his passion for creating spirits in 2008, while assisting a distiller friend in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County. From there, Sonoma Distilling Company was born. Spiegel and his team focus on handcrafting small batch-produced whiskey, from grain-to-glass, using old-school style stills to create whiskeys that are authentic and unpretentious, steeped in traditional values, but fueled by the evolved needs of the modern palate. Since its inception, Sonoma Distilling Company has employed sustainable processes as a core part of its business model, using natural resources like wind and ambient temperature of their location so as to have less of an ecological footprint. Every level of production at Sonoma Distilling Company is handled in-house, including the milling, mashing and fermentation of grains, handmade copper alembic pot distillation, American oak barrel aging, bottling and labeling. Sourcing only the finest non-GMO grains from California farmers and from around the world, Sonoma Distilling Company takes great pride in using the power of the dollar to work with those with whom they share a matching ideology. Through a mindful approach, hard work, and time-honored techniques, Spiegel and his team have pledged their enduring commitment to producing world-class whiskeys. Sonoma Distilling Company is California’s Premium Whiskey. Visit for further information.


Don Landis

Directly off the tree, olives taste bitter. Don Landis has been de-bittering olives for all of us to eat for nearly two decades.

Growing up on Long Island, N.Y., he thought like most folks that “olives” were either the green ones stuffed with the red thing (pimento) or the black ones that came in a can.

In the mid 1990’s, Don and his wife Marian (AKA Oliveoyl) were at a pot luck dinner in Sonoma, California – a place where olives are grown in abundance. One of the diners brought a two-quart jar of her uncle’s home-made Olives. No one had tasted Olives like these before, including Don. With an Olive tree in his yard it was easy for Don to proclaim “I’m going to make Olives!”

Thus started Don’s journey into the world of Olives. He started learning and de-bittering. The first jog in the journey was three years later when Don was happy with his creations and started to share the Olives he de-bittered. Always looking for other “Olive people,” Don found like-minded folks in Northern California who knew what is so natural and understood all across the Mediterranean basin – that Olive making is lots of fun.

The search for more Olive people soon brought Don to the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, but the festival turned out to be Olive Oil oriented. So with his knowledge of Olives and home de-bittering techniques, Don started presenting and earned a reputation and nickname of “The Olive Guy.”

One of Don’s other passions is sharing knowledge. Don found that many, many people had the desire to learn about Olives. So during the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival Don started to present Olive De-Bittering workshops. Year by year the crowds for his presentations grew. More event promoters and community groups asked Don to present his workshops.

Now, Don fuels his strong passion for Olives by offering several workshops during the year, private and public. He also provides consultations for those in need of Olive knowledge. It provides Don with joy and happiness that balances out the stress of work and life’s obligations.

His signature salutation says it all…

”Happy Olives!”