Malt Resistance

Narrating the Rise and Fall of Single Malt Scotch.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Dram of the Day

Now for something truly different: an old style barrel strength 100% rye Whisky. Its called "Old Potrero" though it is in fact pretty young. Let me state at the outset that I am not usually inclined towards Rye Whiskey or Tenneessee Whiskey or Bourbon. This however, completly won me over. Here's why:

Old Potrero, Distilled 12/31/1997, Bottled 07/14/00.
Essay 7-RW-ARM-6

Nose: Very sweet. Alcohol. Calvados notes, then persistant strong banana aroma. 'Bananes Flambees au Rhum' desert somewhere smart. I know this talk of bananas makes it sound like a Beaujolais nouveau is being reviewed but this flavour blends in marvelously with the others.
Mouthfeel is viscous, mouth coating. Bananas in Rum again, with honey and young oak. Tropical fruits behind. It is also the rythm with which the flavours hit you, everything is perfectly synchronized.
Finish is warm and supportive and never burns --amazing at 124.2 proof.

A unprecedented and magnificent experience. This could be a new genre all together. [90] Old Potrero is something all whisky afficionados have to try at least once at the risk of missing out on one of the most exciting development in American whiskey history.

I still can't get over this discovery. None of the heavy, almost sweaty, sweetness of Bourbon here. Old Potrero is truly different than all other ryes on the market. Partly because the legal requirements to make a rye whiskey are pretty counter-intuitive. If you just have 51% rye in your spirit you can call your Whiskey a Rye whiskey!

Compare Old Potrero to any of the well known ryes on the market (Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Old Overholt ) and you are comparing two completly different drinks. American whiskeys are virtually all a mix of some sort, corn, rye, barley.... Legaly, the word Bourbon or Rye or Tennessee Whiskey or Sour Mash never require the sort of disclosure that is required of Single Malt Scotch... and therefore exact ingredients on the label for the consumer to see was often missing for the american consumer. Not with Old Potrero. You have got to try it, even if only for curiosity's sake.

About its young age you ask? Well, I think 100% rye whiskey clearly doesn't need to get that much age to be great. Further, lets remember that the option for American Whiskey should not necessarily be to reflexively imitate Scotch and come out with 15,20 year old all over the place....Like with most Islays, I find Bourbon to be at its best at no more than 12 years old.

As this experience has been unexpectedly rewarding, we hope to pursue our exploration of new world whiskies, with the other ryes on the market, and the few remaining corn whiskies available as well. This should be interesting and different. Stay tuned.


Anonymous Josh said...

Sorry, put my first question on the wrong page. Have you had the Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye to compare?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Old Potrero, while it does sound nice, is pretty pricey. The only Old Potrero I could find was $75 and up for 750ml. I guess using 100% rye is expensive.

7:15 PM  
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