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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

St George Spirits Distillery

ST. George Single Malt Whiskey

St. George Spirits Background


St. George Spirits founder Jörg Rupf it seemed was destined to follow his farther onto the bench for Munich's constitutional law court. Though thinking deep thoughts about matters legal suited him fine, the vast grey mounds of paperwork involved bored him to desperation. When the opportunity for a research sabbatical at UC Berkeley came his way he packed his bags and didn't look back. 


Berkeley in 1978 turned out to be both the right time and place for Jörg, seeking to take part in the burgeoning gourmet culture and bring something of his homeland to the table. He reasoned that good food and good wine would naturally lead to an interest in quality digestives and began experimenting with local fruit. He was soon distilling raspberries in a small alembic still.


Jörg continued to refine and expand his "practice.” He tinkered and tasted, making fine, aromatic quaff of pears, plums and quince. His only thought was that if he steadily improved the eaux-de-vie, his business would also improve.


Jörg worked mostly alone for nearly a decade, taking in helpers only when they found their own way to the distillery.


Lance Winters, eventually becoming Co-owner and creative spirit, came knocking in just such a way. Lance had just left a glowing career running a nuclear reactor on an Alameda-based Navy ship and turned to brewing. His work eventually led to some experimental whiskey-making on a small still, and when his knowledge ran thin he came to Jörg for advice. 


At the time Lance appeared, Bill Mannsardt, the distillery's left and right hand man was preparing to retire. Lance jumped at the chance to work with the master, and things at the distillery took a turn for the lively. His restless creative energy pumped new juice into the stills and the two men formed a partnership fuelled by Lance's youthful drive and held steady by Jörg's experience and contemplative pace. 


With new fire under the business, the partners found their way to a broader audience. The onslaught of candy-flavoured "infused" vodkas into the popular marketplace drove Lance to turn his craftsman's hand to vodkas infused with real fruit. In the time it takes to split an atom, Hangar One vodkas were up and running, and the little artesian business exploded.


New stills were purchased and formerly hand-filled bottles now rattled along automated filling lines.


Lance brings a perfumer's nose to each new distillate and Jörg's alchemist's take colours the final product. "Alcohol is secondary, almost incidental to our work," muses Lance. "When you take a trip do you think about the road? Alcohol merely carries the heart of what we're crafting - the scent, the nuances, the flora we incorporate.”




Lance Winters and Jorg Rupf distil by hand on a tiny Alsatian pot still. Lance’s whiskey is smooth, tasty and unusually complex.


Lance has the barley malt smoked over hardwoods, not peat. The distilling beer is made by Sierra Nevada.


The sweetness of hardwood smoke integrates beautifully with the malt character, yielding more depth, more complexity, and a soft balance.


The whiskey ages in three barrel woods: port casks, American oak and French Allier oak.


As distillers, Jorg & Lance’s goal is to capture and focus good qualities while eliminating harsh or aggressive alcohol characteristics.


The whiskey that flows from their small copper pot stills is sweet and malty, with pronounced overtones of cocoa and roasted hazelnut.


Aging in oak adds a subtle layer of vanilla, allows the flavours to deepen and mature, and gives the whiskey its velvety mouth-feel.


A rare ability to produce distillates which are smooth and complex straight from the still has earned St. George Spirits international acclaim. Decades of

experience with craft methods, along with the use of the custom malted barley, has combined to create a single malt which is genuinely distinctive.


St George Single Malt whiskey lot #7

Older and more sophisticated than their previous release, this edition is a hallmark in the evolution of  their whiskey.


In lot 7, the voice has deepened, feels more grown up, yet there are more high notes and sweetness present than in lot #6.


There's cocoa, hints of delicate smoke and dry spice in the front of the palate, finishing with lingering cinnamon– soft, warm, and lovely.


Company founder and master distiller Jörg Rupf shares some background on the development of whiskey:


“Our concept for the whiskey is based on our philosophy of fruit eau de vie making, which is to showcase the qualities of the ingredients used in distillation.


For the whiskey, we try to weave them together into a complex picture. Different roast levels of the barley, different types of oak, a small and measured amount of hardwood smoked malt, all contribute to that complexity.


We are consciously staying away from peat, because it really has no particular connection to California and because of its sometimes-overwhelming impact on the flavour profile. There are plenty of really good Scottish examples of peated malts available. This is unique. This is St. George Spirits Single Malt whiskey.”

St. George Spirits’ selection of products includes:


Aqua Perfecta Eaux de Vie: Poire Williams; Framboise; Kirsch; Basil; and Zinfandel Grappa

Hangar One Vodka:  Straight and infused with Buddha’s Hand Citron; Fraser River Raspberry; Kaffir Lime; and Mandarin Blossom

Qi Tea Liqueurs in White and Black Tea flavours

St. George Single Malt Whiskey

St. George Absinthe Verte



CA 94501


PHONE 510.769.1601


Tasting Room and Distillery Tours available


Please Check with the distillery for details