Review: Old St. Pete Sunshine Whiskey

DSR – FL – 003: Old St. Pete Sunshine Whiskey

Company/Distillery: St. Petersburg Distillery

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Mash Bill: Corn and Rye

Age Statement: A blend of 25% 4 year old whiskey finished with smoked wood chips and 75% 7 year barrel aged whiskey.

Proof/ABV: 88 Proof/44% ABV

Color & Viscosity: Viewing this whiskey from the bottle, it presents tawny in color. From the tasting vessel, this Old St. Pete Whiskey appears russet in color. The whiskey is very oily in appearance, leaving a thick and viscous trail of fleeting legs and a dense lip.

Purchase Price: $28.99 for a 750 ml bottle in Florida

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label

“Old St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey”

“Barrel Finished with Smoked Oak Chips”

“Small Batch Pot-Distilled Whiskey”

“Batch No. 1 | Bottle No. 16074”

“Welcome To The Sunshine City”

Back Label

“St. Petersburg Distillery”

“Made In The Sunshine City”

“Old St. Pete”

“Old St. Pete spirits distilled in the independent, artisan tradition embraced throughout the city’s history. Our copper pot-distilled sunshine whiskey is a beautiful union of corn and rye, with notes of vanilla, smoke and spice. Aged in oak barrels and finished with smoked oak chips, resulting in a perfect balanced flavorful whiskey.”

“Produced and Bottled By St. Petersburg Distillery in St. Petersburg Florida”

“25% 4 Year Old Whiskey Finished With Smoked Oak Chips 75% 7 Years Barrel Aged Whiskey”

Distillery Background

St. Petersburg Distillery

St. Petersburg Distillery, founded in 2014, is located just outside of Tampa Bay on the Florida gulf coast. St. Petersburg Distillery is a family-owned operation led by Dominic Lafrate, Sr. and his two sons, Dominic Jr. and Stephen. The Lafrate family founded the distillery in the spirit of innovation, something that St. Petersburg is known to incubate. Mr. Lafrate, Sr. draws on his childhood experiences of wine making with grapes in Italy when crafting his fine spirits at the distillery. The family had owned and operated other businesses in the past including Lafrate Construction and Angelo’s Recycled Materials. The family decided it was time to diversify their portfolio and seeing that the craft brewing scene had become heavily saturated, Lafrate, Sr. felt that eventually craft distilling would see a similar boom and decided to jump in. The distillery uses pot stills built in the 1930’s for its distillation of spirits. 

The distillery has built itself around a team of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, so that they can truly thrive as an up and coming distillery. Warren Gardener currently serves as the Master Distiller. Mr. Gardener grew up in Jamaica and learned the craft under a Master Distiller with four generations of experience. Mr. Gardener is joined by two Assistant Distillers, Clara Robbins and Adam Mitton. Prior to her time at St. Petersburg Distillery, Ms. Robbins, who studied chemical engineering, spent time as a bourbon, vodka, and gin distiller in Kentucky. Clara joined the team in St. Petersburg Distillery in 2019. Mr. Mitton, formerly of Chicago, Illinois, also came to St. Petersburg Distillery with a background in chemical engineering. Mr. Mitton leverages his experiences from his chemical engineering background along with stints in food manufacturing to bring another dimension of experience to the St. Pete’s distilling team. 

In addition to Old St. Pete Sunshine Whiskey, St. Petersburg Distillery also produces Old St. Pete Righteous Rum, Tropical Gin, Artisanal Vodka, and Sunset Gin. St. Petersburg Distillery also produces the brands Banyan Reserve Vodka and Oak & Palm Spiced and Coconut Rum. For more information on the distillery and their operations, please visit them online at

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: July 29, 2022 – Neat in Glencairn Glass, then with a drop of distilled water.


Christian: From the bottle, St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey peaks out of the bottle with a very sweet and buttery nose. Hints of unaged oak chips accompany a smoked butterscotch aroma. It should be noted that this could also be detected as a smoked salted caramel as well. Whatever the aroma, this is very inviting from the bottle. In my glass, the nose is much more subtle and delicate in nature. Light honey, uncooked pie crust dough, and just a tinge of a floral component are present. A quick swirl and return to my nose offers a plethora of sweetness, perhaps butterscotch. A punch of rye spice and slight grass/hay quality also present themselves. Adding a drop of distilled water really ramps up the butterscotch component of this nose. A lot of the smokiness is muted, so the butterscotch combined with a touch of alcohol reminds me of butterscotch schnapps or something similar. 

Mike: Straight from the bottle, this whiskey is a butterscotch bomb upfront with a light smokiness in the background. Nosing this whiskey from the glass, it offers soft fruity notes that transition to delicate honeysuckle blossoms. A quick swirl releases gentle waves of cinnamon dusted pie dough and a whisper of pear aromas. Letting the whiskey rest and nosing back in, the butterscotch aroma becomes more prominent. 


Christian: This whiskey offers a very soft and smooth mouthfeel. A sweet smokiness hits the palate quickly before giving way to very light tastes of leather and toasted brown sugar. As I continue to sip, further elements of butterscotch jump forward with a surprising kiss of grilled stone fruit. This whiskey tastes a little grain heavy, but surprisingly it is not the corn that is coming through most, but rather the rye’s spice influence. Overall, this whiskey continues to bring a delicate flavor profile to the experience. Adding the distilled water intensifies the sweet brown sugar and butterscotch flavored candies. The spiciness surprisingly steps up a notch, making the presence of rye really noticeable. 

Mike: My first sip of this Old St. Pete offers a semi-dry and smoky first impression. A brisk and creamy sweetness develops mid-palate as the whiskey becomes increasingly dry on the back end. A second pass reveals hints of stone fruit, indicative of apricots. As the sweetness of fruit fades, the smokiness advances and a faint bitterness materializes.


Christian: Old St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey is a smooth light sipper with a short to medium finish. The lower proof point is evident in the finish, allowing this whiskey to be enjoyed by a large array of whiskey drinkers. The finish is dry with a bit of the bitterness from the oak tannin peeking through. That being said, sweetness still wins the day. Smoked salted caramel remains late on the palate and hangs around for a considerable amount of time. Distilled water seems to have very little influence on the overall finish of this pour. Sweetness is still strong, but I do notice the bitterness from the wood tannin has reduced considerably. 

Mike: Overall, this whiskey has a soft to medium finish. A sweetness reemerges and a soothing cinder matures agreeably from the mid-chest region down into the stomach. A brief rise of rye spice attempts to surface but doesn’t have the vigor to persevere.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Old St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey offers a pleasant, sweet nose that offers a touch of smokiness to balance things out. The taste profile and mouth feel are a little anticlimactic but offer a little twist to the traditional flavors by enhancing things with smoke. This whiskey offers a finish that is approachable and smooth and does not overpower with heat from a higher proof point. Old St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey is not overly complex but does add a wrinkle in a more traditional flavor profile by introducing the smokiness. Priced at under $30, this whiskey offers an approachable experience at a relatively low risk price point. If you are in Florida and in the mood for a sweet smokey treat, you might just want to give Old St. Pete Sunshine Premium Whiskey a try. 

Rating: 2.75 Rickhouses

Mike: This is a simple offering from Old St. Pete Distillery–a respectable blend of 25% 4-year whiskey and 75% 7-year whiskey. The whiskey isn’t complex and doesn’t pretend to be. It is an easy sipper and priced very reasonably for what it is. Credit is given for a sensible price point, but a slight deduction from me for lack of transparency in the overall product. 

Rating: 3.0 Rickhouses


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