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Old Potrero 18th Century Style Single Malt Rye Whiskey (700ml) - Essay MCMXCIII
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- ABV 51.2%
The original Anchor Distilling Company was established in 1993 by Fritz Maytag who purchased Anchor Brewing in 1965. In 2014, the company doubled its production capacity to meet demand for Old Potrero. Japanese giant, Sapporo acquired the brewery side of the operation in 2017, leaving Anchor Distilling to dedicate itself to very small batches of traditional spirits. They are one of a handful of distilleries in the United States producing a 100% Rye, which is also one of the country's few single malts. Despite its name, Old Potrero is a relatively new whiskey. Fritz Maytag began trying his hand at the pot still in 1993, a time when the concept of craft American spirits simply didn’t exist. The first fruits were bottled uncut and unfiltered and received early critical acclaim. Not long after, things got serious. Jim Murray quotes a colleague in his 2006 Whisky Bible, stating that the Old Potrero Ryes are “the most noteworthy development in American Whiskey in living memory.”
Old Potrero is branded as an '18th century style' for good reason. It's Anchor's attempt to recreate the original whiskey of America. Pioneers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia made whiskey from whatever grain was available. Mostly small farmers, they quickly adapted to growing rye because of its hardiness (as opposed to present day corn which became more popular in the West). Distilled in a small copper pot still at Potrero Hill in San Francisco, the whiskey has been released in numbered 'Essays' (a lower proof version also exists). Extra fine-grained new American oak barrrels are employed. Maytag notes that in the 18th century, barrels were gently toasted, not charred, as they are today, so the wood used here was heated just enough to bend the staves into shape.
Tasting note: [Essay MCMXCIII] Deep amber gold. Aromas of honey and dried herbs (tarragon, thyme) over rye crackers as well as notes of saw dust, pencil shavings and peppercorns. Air contact turns the bouquet sweeter, more oily and more caraway rye-bread like. Presumably this is barrel proof but never for a second is it hot, prickly or aggressive. What strikes you most about the palate is the superb texture: buttery, supple and perfectly rounded. Keeping the barrel input to a minimum really lets every aspect of the grain shine. Oily rye and honeycomb follow with sprinklings of oak shavings, vanilla, pepper and dried herbs (thyme, caraway and muddled mint). Brown sugar and dark chocolate unravel late in the aftertaste. From beginning to end, this brilliant, one-of-a-kind expression changes your perceptions of what rye whiskey can be. Highest recommendation. Aged 2 years and 6 months. 51.2% Alc./Vol.
Other reviews... [2020 tasting 51.2%] Complex and peppery rye whiskey with great herbal character.
94 points Gold Medal - tastings.com
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL | San Francisco World Spirits Competition
#6 IN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SPIRITS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS - Spirits writer, David Wondrich on Old Potrero