Fred Thumhart, left, and Michael Traverso, right, founders of the new Sonoma Single Malt Society

Michael Traverso–son of George, grandson of Rico–and Fred Thumhart, who worked at Traverso’s for several years before it’s closure in November, recently announced their newest project, Sonoma County Single Malt Society.

Traverso’s was a premier destination for Single Malt Scotch–it was even recognized as such by an annual UK publication–and Michael himself had become an expert, as had Fred. The tastings hosting a couple of times a year at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel were enormously popular. As we were chatting about the future on one of the store’s final days of business, they said they were hoping to find a way to continue offering great single malts to the county.

And now they’ve found it with the Sonoma County Single Malt Society.

The Society has launched with a simple web site and two tasting options, one for the public that is suitable for both novices and aficionades, and one for private groups.

The first public tasting takes place on Sunday, April 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Russian River Room at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square. The tasting will feature single malt Scotch whiskies from Amrut, Blackadder and Glenglassaugh.

If you already know you love these rarefied liquors, you may want to join the Society, which you can do on your own for $25 or as a couple for $40. These are Charter Membership rates, available to the first 100 people to join. Members enjoy a significant discount on public tastings. Most tastings are $50 for the general public and $35 for members (members can bring up to five additional guests at the discounted price). There’s no membership form yet, so email to get things started.

Laphroaig, a smoky briny single malt from Islay, is my favorite. Apparently, this makes me a peathead. When I visited the distillery in 1998, I was presented with a certificate of ownership of one-square-foot of land, a tad small for building a vacation home but cool nonetheless.

If you simply want to see what single malts are all about, attend this first tasting. You won’t find a better way to start to learn your way around this tradition unless you head to Scotland.

To sign up for the tasting, email your name and phone number to If you present to mail a check for payment, make it out to Michael Traverso or Fred Thumhart and mail it to P. O. Box 1851, Santa Rosa 95402.

Michael is currently working as Hospitality Manager at Williams Selyem Winery on Westside Rd. in Healdsburg. To reach him directly, email Fred is a wine specialist at Oliver’s Market on Montecito Ave. in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at


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