Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Whiskey

Not long after we moved to the mountains, I noticed the big house atop an imposing hill on Hwy 108, with modern roof lines and a 360° view. If I couldn't live there, I'd at least wanted to visit it.

BREAKING NEWS . . . on July 18, 2008, the house was engulfed by flames, leaving only a skeleton of wood framing and metal. Water tenders had to ferry water from Sierra Conservation Center (a state prison) because of lack of a hydrant. The family was out of town on vacation at the time of the fire. 

An escaped inmate from that same Sierra Conservation center was later charged with arson and various other crimes and later pleaded guilty to the arson.

The original house
Up in flames - from photos on display at the house
The house was once frequented by movie stars including Clint Eastwood, who stayed there while filming Unforgiven, and Michael J. Fox, who stayed while filming Back to the Future III. Eastwood dubbed the house Big Whiskey after the town in the movie. A vast collection of antiques was also lost in the fire.

The owner rebuilt her Englishman spruce log home from a burned Canadian forest, using 24- to 30-inch logs. These logs can't burn even at 1,800 degrees.

So Big Whiskey is back, almost complete, and today, there was an open house as a fundraiser for Sonora Elementary School's athletic programs. It has changed from its former style, but sister-in-law Tory and I finally got our visit.

Big Whiskey is back.

The view east toward Sonora

View to the west

Me modeling prospective residence ;-)

The porch goes completely around the house.

Selling goodies to benefit school programs

The western touch

Looking upstairs

Native slate wall

Around the other side


A look back at the outside


Final shot on the walk down the hill
 What a beautiful day for a visit!

See you tomorrow.



  1. I'm glad this story has such a beautiful ending. And by the way, you look right at home there. Next residence?

  2. Ohhhhhh - that is the Whiskey place - is it a B&B or what???? I didn't even know it had a name. Sounds like a bar but don't think so. Do they have tours now? We kept on watching as it was being build - just a beautiful place.

  3. It's a private residence and they held the open house before carpets got put in. I condensed info from several articles in the Union-Democrat, Sonora. Use their search for "Big Whiskey" and it lists 9 articles over the past almost three years.