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Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey Review: A Tasting Journey

thewhiskylady - 2023-05-22
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Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey Review

I recently stumbled upon a bottle of Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey and decided to give it a try. Originating from Redwood Empire Distillery, Pipe Dream Bourbon has sparked some interest in the whiskey community with its balanced flavor profile and accessible price point.

In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on the taste, presentation, and overall experience of sipping on this bourbon. For those who may not be familiar with Redwood Empire Pipe Dream, it’s a blend of barrels aged between 4 and 12 years, featuring a high corn mashbill. Sitting at 90 proof and retailing for about $44, this bourbon has the potential to become a staple in many whiskey lovers’ collections.

Before diving into the tasting notes, I need to acknowledge the beautiful bottle design and its inspiration. Named after the 14th largest tree on the planet, Redwood Empire’s Pipe Dream Bourbon aims to pay homage to the majestic redwood forests that surround the distillery. The connection between nature and the spirit inside the bottle sets the stage for a unique and enjoyable whiskey experience.

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey Overview

Product History

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey Overviewphoto source:

As a bourbon enthusiast, I was thrilled to explore Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey, which hails from Redwood Empire Distillery in California. Named after the 14th largest tree on the planet, Pipe Dream is the distillery’s first bourbon whiskey offering. This blend is crafted from barrels aged between 4 and 12 years, giving it a unique depth of flavor.

Redwood Empire Distillery was founded by Derek Benham and is inspired by the majestic redwood trees of the Russian River Valley. Their aim is to create whiskies that reflect the area’s unique climate and natural beauty.

Mashbill and Proof

The bourbon whiskey is made from a high corn mashbill, consisting of 74% corn, 20% raw rye, 4.5% malt barley, and 1.5% wheat. This blend results in a rich and smooth flavor profile with a hint of sweetness and spiciness. The bourbon sits at a comfortable 90 proof, which strikes a nice balance between flavor and alcohol content.

Aroma and Flavor

Upon nosing I detected a pleasant aroma of toasted oak, caramel, and vanilla with a hint of rye and spice. The alcohol presence was not overpowering, considering its proof. In terms of flavor, the Pipe Dream bourbon whiskey is mainly straightforward, nailing the caramel, vanilla, and oak trio with expert precision, making it easy to sip and enjoy.

Price Range

As for the price, it is quite affordable, with an MSRP of around $44. It is a great value for a well-crafted and unique bourbon whiskey, especially considering its California origins. This sets it apart from the more traditional bourbon-producing states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oregon.

Cask Strength Variant

For those who prefer a stronger whiskey experience, there is a cask strength version of Pipe Dream available as well. The cask strength bourbon has an ABV of 58.4%, offering a more intense flavor profile. Surprisingly, this bourbon doesn’t require any water to be added, despite its high alcohol content, and maintains a light amber color in the glass.

Tasting Notes


When I first nosed this bourbon, I was greeted by a classic bourbon aroma with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. As I continued to explore the scents, I picked up hints of butter, pepper, honey, and pear, with a subtle fruitiness that made it an inviting experience.


Upon tasting the bourbon, it struck me with its intense sweetness up front, showcasing caramel and vanilla flavors. The sweetness balanced with notes of oak, giving off a rich, woodiness that really held it all together. Along with these core flavors, I also noticed brown sugar, nuttiness, candied orange, honey-roasted peanuts, dark caramel, clove, and a touch of cinnamon.

The bourbon’s 90 proof held up well, and I found it to be sippable without needing any water. The mouthfeel was smooth and had a certain creamed corn quality that I found quite appealing.


The finish on this bourbon was an intriguing combination of flavors. It presented a delicate aftertaste of dried cherry, malt barley, and toffee lingering in the background. At the same time, some lemon and nutty undertones emerged, creating a delightful complexity.


Based on my sample of Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon, I’d give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. This bourbon is an excellent example of a well-balanced and enjoyable drink, featuring a wide array of flavors and aromas. It’s a great choice for both casual sippers and bourbon enthusiasts alike.

  • Caramel: 4/5
  • Oak: 4/5
  • Vanilla: 4/5
  • Butter: 3/5
  • Pepper: 3/5

Mixing and Pairing

Best Mixers

coca colaphoto Editorial credit: vengerof /

In my experience with Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey, I’ve found certain mixers that enhance its unique flavor profile. To highlight the bourbon’s caramel, vanilla, and oak notes, consider the following mixers:

  • Ginger ale: Adds a spicy kick that complements the bourbon’s natural sweetness.
  • Club soda: When I want to keep it simple, unflavored soda water creates a refreshing highball.
  • Cola: Classic mixer, perfectly balances the sweet and oaky notes of the whiskey.

Cocktail Suggestions

Cocktail Suggestionsphoto source:

As a fan of Pipe Dream Bourbon, I love experimenting with new cocktail recipes. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

  • Apple Pi Sour: In honor of Pi Day (3.14), this cocktail combines the spirit’s caramel and vanilla notes with the essence of apple pie. Mix 1.5 oz Pipe Dream Bourbon, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz apple pie simple syrup, and 1 egg white. Shake it with ice and garnish with apple slices, apple pie spice, and bitters.
  • Redwood Old Fashioned: A classic American cocktail made with Redwood Empire Whiskey adds a unique twist. Muddle sugar, water, and a couple dashes of bitters in a glass. Add ice, 2 oz of Pipe Dream Bourbon, and stir. Garnish with a twist of orange peel and a maraschino cherry.
  • Emerald Dream: A creative concoction that incorporates both Emerald Giant Rye and Lost Monarch Blended Whiskey. Mix 1 oz Emerald Giant Rye, 1 oz Lost Monarch Blended Whiskey, and 1 oz sweet vermouth. Stir with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Food Pairings

BBQ pork spare rib steak with honey sauce and whiskeyphoto source:

When choosing the perfect meal to accompany my Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon, I like to keep in mind the whiskey’s character and creamy texture. Here are some suggested pairings:

  • Savory dishes: Bold flavors like barbecue, smoked meats, or a juicy burger can add contrast to the sweetness of the bourbon.
  • Salty snacks: Classic pairings like peanuts or popcorn balance out the spirit’s natural sweetness with their saltiness.
  • Desserts: The caramel and vanilla notes in the whiskey complement rich and creamy desserts like crème brûlée or apple pie.


After having tried Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey myself, I can confidently say it is an enjoyable, easy-sipping, and approachable bourbon. With its caramel, vanilla, and oak flavors melding together rather well, one can appreciate the expert precision behind its creation.

Although I found it a tad on the boring side due to its straightforward taste profile, I must admit that Redwood Empire has managed to create a bourbon that can be appreciated by a wide range of whiskey enthusiasts. The 90 proof whiskey, with a blend of barrels aged between 4 and 12 years, brings an element of consistency and familiarity in flavor.

When it comes to the price point, Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey sits at around $44, which I believe is reasonable given the quality and flavors the bourbon delivers. A key takeaway for me would be to not expect a highly complex or exciting tasting experience but rather a solid and enjoyable bourbon that’s easy to enjoy on any occasion.

In comparison to its higher proof sibling, Redwood Empire Cask Strength Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey, I noticed that the cask strength variant is bolder and more noticeable in terms of flavors. Though it registers at 116.8 proof, it remarkably does not require water for dilution to enjoy.

To summarize, Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey is an accessible and easy-sipping bourbon that offers a traditionally familiar flavor profile. While it may not excite more experienced bourbon drinkers seeking complexity, its dependable, comforting taste will be welcomed by many whiskey enthusiasts looking for a classic bourbon experience.

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