Nestled amidst the verdant expanse of California’s Sierra Nevada is a place that resonates with the hum of nature and the spirit of an age-old craft. This is Arnold, a small town where mountain air mingles with the aroma of artisanal spirits in the making, where the spirit of the Sierra finds its liquid manifestation. Here, amongst these ancient, whispering pines and clear, racing streams, you will find Hinterhaus Distillery.
The story of Hinterhaus, a name that intriguingly translates to ‘house at the back,’ is one spun from dreams and aspirations, from love for the land, and a relentless pursuit of exceptional flavors. For its founders, the husband and wife duo Nate and Bonnie Randall, the journey was a transcontinental quest for a haven, a place to lay roots and shape the future. Arnold, with its untouched beauty, became that sanctuary.
Origin and Pursuit
There is an intriguing contradiction in the notion of a distillery being described as a sanctuary. Often, when one thinks of such a place, images of silent, undisturbed forests or tranquil, sun-drenched beaches come to mind. However, step into the ethereal realm of Hinterhaus, and you will see why this characterization is apt. Here, sanctuary takes on a unique identity, one where nature, passion, and craft converge.
Picture, if you will, the exhilaration Nate and Bonnie felt when they first glimpsed Arnold, a modest hamlet dwarfed by the majesty of the Sierra Nevada. They beheld a land where the veil between civilization and wilderness was tantalizingly thin, a place that whispered of potential. Here was a place where they could harness the rich, hearty landscape, to create something truly unique.
Setting Roots, Setting Sights
Drawing from their varied skills and experiences, they founded Hinterhaus in 2020, pouring their heart and soul into creating a lineup of spirits that mirrored the Sierra’s vibrant ‘terroir.’ A dream was steadily taking shape, a vision slowly emerging out of the fogs of aspiration, growing tangible with each passing day. A distillery was no longer an abstract concept; it was a reality rooted in concrete, steel, grain, and grapes.
The distillery became a family affair, its familial essence echoing in the gentle hum of machinery, the rich aroma of grains in the mash tun, and the soothing clink of glasses in the Alpine-inspired tasting lounge. The essence of the Sierra Nevada region was encapsulated in every offering from Hinterhaus, from the vodka, gin, and liqueurs distilled from Northern California wines, to the bourbon whiskeys aged high above the sea level, encased in a variety of local wine casks.
Each spirit is a testament to the love, dedication, and meticulous attention to detail that Nate, Bonnie, and their crew pour into every process. Every bottle represents a journey, a voyage that begins in the vineyards and grain fields and culminates in your glass.
Essence of the Sierra – The Whiskeys of Hinterhaus
Journeying through the unique whiskeys of Hinterhaus is akin to walking through the seasons in the Sierra Nevada. They are as diverse and vibrant as the landscape itself, each offering a distinctive taste of the mountains and valleys that have so profoundly influenced their creation.
Consider their American Single Malt Whiskey. The process begins with carefully sourced barley, a grain that forms the backbone of this classic spirit. But at Hinterhaus, the barley is no ordinary grain. It’s a labor of love, chosen for its quality and character, much like the landscapes surrounding the distillery. This barley is processed with an open fermentation method, a practice that allows the local Sierra Nevada water to capture the character of the mountain surroundings.
Imagine the mountain streams, cold and pure, winding their way down the hillside, nurturing everything in their path. Think of this water, now an integral part of the whiskey, carrying with it the essence of the land. The aging process at high altitude nurtures unique attributes, and the result is an American Single Malt Whiskey that doesn’t just boast of a sense of place, but carries it in every drop.
The Calaveras Cask Straight Bourbon Whiskey is another masterpiece that pays homage to the region’s wine-growing tradition. The bourbon, matured in new charred American oak, rests in the distillery’s lofty perch in the Sierra Mountains. The aging process, however, doesn’t stop there. The bourbon is then allowed to rest in a variety of local wine casks, adding another layer of complexity and depth to its profile. Each sip is an exploration, a sensory journey through the landscapes of Arnold and beyond.
For those who crave rarity, the Calaveras Cask Strength Single Barrel Reserve beckons. These exceptional barrels are given additional aging time, treated with the patience and respect that an outstanding spirit deserves. The process highlights the distinctive flavor attributes of the spirit, allowing it to present itself naturally, unfiltered and uncolored.
Now, envision yourself holding a glass of this extraordinary whiskey. As it catches the light, you see the amber hue of a Sierra sunset. You take a moment, closing your eyes and taking a deep breath, letting the scent of the whiskey fill your senses. The aroma carries the hint of local wine, the whispers of the oak barrel, and the subtle notes of the Sierra Nevada landscape. You take a sip, and the complex, concentrated flavors wash over your palate, each note telling a story, sharing a secret.
The Trapper’s Oath
Perhaps one of the most adventurous offerings from Hinterhaus is the Trapper’s Oath. A Canadian Rye whiskey, this spirit has journeyed far and wide, much like the trappers of old, those intrepid explorers who braved the wilderness, embodying a spirit of adventure and exploration. This whiskey, aged extensively, found its way to the Sierra Nevada, where it was given a new life in stout beer casks that originally aged Hinterhaus Bourbon whiskey.
Can you imagine this voyage? This whiskey, traveling across borders, traversing landscapes, bringing with it the spirit of its homeland, only to be imbued with the spirit of another. It’s a tale of two lands, two cultures, two traditions converging in a single barrel. And as always, this extraordinary rye whiskey is presented naturally, maintaining the integrity of its extraordinary journey.
Invitation to Adventure
As we journey through the tale of Hinterhaus, it becomes clear that this is not just a story of a distillery. It’s a story of a dream realized, a journey embarked upon, and a love letter written to a landscape that offered a new beginning. It’s a story woven into every drop of spirit that fills the bottles lined up in their Alpine-inspired lounge.
Hinterhaus Distilling invites you to be part of this story, to embark on an adventure that begins with a sip and ends with an unforgettable experience. Each tasting, each cocktail savored, is an exploration, a voyage that mirrors the very journey undertaken by Nate and Bonnie Randall.
So, as the sun sets over the Sierra Nevada, painting the sky with hues of amber and gold, you find yourself drawn to the rugged landscape, the mountains and valleys that whisper tales of a distillery named Hinterhaus. With every sip of their spirits, you taste the journey, the dream, the passion. And in that moment, you know, you’ve found a piece of the Sierra in every golden pour.
From its humble beginnings to the complex and diverse spirits it produces, Hinterhaus Distillery stands as a testament to the resilience of a dream, the power of a vision, and the captivating allure of the Sierra Nevada landscape. It’s more than just a distillery; it’s a sanctuary for those who crave authenticity, who seek a taste of the land, and who long for a unique, unforgettable experience. Let the spirits of Hinterhaus guide you on a journey, one that engages your senses, stirs your emotions, and leaves you longing for just another taste.
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