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Purple Brands Promotes Jeff Duckhorn and Adds Lauren Patz as New Distiller in Sonoma County


March 22nd – (GRATON, Calif.) – Purple Brands, parent company of Sonoma County’s Redwood Empire Whiskey and Benham’s Gin, announced the promotion of Jeff Duckhorn to Master Distiller and the hiring of Lauren Patz as Head Distiller. Patz will report to Duckhorn, who has been with Purple for ten years. Patz was the head distiller at Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, CA before coming to Purple.

Duckhorn has overseen the distillery since Purple Brands began distillation in 2015. His spirits have garnered unparalleled critical acclaim including 94-points from Sunset International Spirits Competition for Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon, 97-point ratings for his Redwood Empire Emerald Giant Rye and Benham’s Gin from Tasting Panel Magazine, a 90-point rating from Whisky Advocate for Redwood Empire Lost Monarch Blend of Straight Whiskeys, and a 93 rating and top Vodka ranking in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 Spirits of the Year for Benham’s Vodka.

Patz is a native of St. Helena, where she learned to love good food and drink from an early age. She taught English in Japan and worked at a chocolate factory prior to joining Spirit Works in 2013, eventually rising to Head Distiller with the responsibility for all operations and product development. She has also judged at the American Distilling Institute since 2017 and has taught distillation seminars and workshops in the local community. Duckhorn and Patz will both work out of the Purple Brands Graton distillery.

Duckhorn is thrilled to add Lauren to the team. “Her experience, palate and innovative spirit will have a big impact on quality and help enable us to achieve our growth objectives.” For her part, Patz says “the thirst for quality spirits is on the rise and I look forward to joining forces with Jeff and Purple Brands to quench all those parched palates. Our team has a unique blend of experience and style that will contribute to innovation and the success of our bottled in bond whiskey later this year.” Purple Brands Owner and Chairman Derek Benham noted that his spirits group grew 68% in 2020. Redwood Empire Whiskey is driving growth, doubling in sales last year. The brand is now available in thirty-nine states and will launch in the UK this summer.  “Jeff is passionate about quality and he’s always experimenting with ways to make our products better. Adding Lauren will allow Jeff to drive our innovation agenda. We have some great new products planned.” Purple Brands plans to add two Bottled in Bond offerings this year in its Redwood Empire Whiskey range.


Founded by Derek Benham in 2001, Purple Brands completed its distillery and
began production in 2015. Its Redwood Empire Whiskey label and Benham’s Gin are sold nationally. Purple Brands is dedicated to creating extraordinary wine and distilled spirits experiences including nationally branded, custom and private label wines for major U.S. and International retailers and restaurateurs. For more information, visit Purplebrands.com, Benhamsspirits.com or redwoodempirewhiskey.com, and follow Benham’s Gin and Redwood Empire on Instagram and Facebook using @BenhamsGin and

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