Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Whiskey Wednesday: Old Potrero Single Malt Rye

A few weeks ago, I gave a brief introduction to American whiskies, including rye. Over the next few weeks of Whiskey Wednesdays, I will be sampling a number of ryes. We start in my home state with Old Potrero Single Malt Rye.

The story of this whiskey starts with beer.

Anchor Steam is San Francisco's beer. It is as much a symbol of that city as cable cars and sourdough bread. Some have called it the first microbrew, but that's not really accurate. It dates from 1896, when microbrews were really all there were. There were more than two dozen breweries in San Francisco at that time, but only Anchor survived. It survived and thrived until 100 years later, there was another microbrewery movement.

In 1993, the folks from Anchor, ahead of the curve again, founded Anchor Distilling Company to make small batches of premium spirits. Anchor distilling makes Junipero Gin, which has gotten good reviews, but we are here to talk about Old Potrero Single Malt Rye.

Unlike most ryes which are cut with corn or wheat, Old Potrero is made from 100% malted rye (hence the single malt designation). They currently have three offerings: (1) 19th century style; (2) 18th century style; and (3) Hotaling's, which they bill as the style of whiskey from the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In addition, I had previously tasted a version with no age statement or other designation, but that does not seem to be available any longer. Prices for these whiskies seems to range from $55 to $70.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I love the spiciness of rye, and it comes out in full force in Old Potrero. Be warned, if you are used to Kentucky ryes cut with corn and wheat, you may be knocked down by the strong rye statement in these whiskies. I loved both the versions of Old Potrero I tried and was impressed at the boldness and flavor intensity of OP's whiskies.

To sum up: I highly recommend these rye monsters for anyone who craves the spiciness of rye.

Next Wednesday: Kentucky Strikes Back - Sazerac Rye

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