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Old Potrero 18th Century Style Rye Whiskey

A Walk on The Wild Side

1 3592

@VictorReview by @Victor

12th Jan 2011

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Overall
    92

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Intro: San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Company also operates Anchor Distilling Company, which produces three Old Potrero Rye Whiskeys, each made from 100% malted rye. The Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey attempts to recreate the style and taste of the whiskeys made and consumed in America in the late 18th century. At the time of his death in 1799 George Washington's Mount Vernon rye whiskey distillery was one of the most commercially successful distilleries in the US. Anchor Distilling's Old Potrero 18th C. Style Whiskey combines 2 batches of whiskey, each of which is aged between 2 and 4 years in new lightly toasted, but not charred, oak barrels. The whiskey is sold at barrel proof. This sample is @ 63.64% ABV (127.28 proof)

Nose: When the bottle was first opened the nose was like funky rotting grain in a barn. After the bottle was opened for 3 weeks the nose shifted to pleasant ripe grain with hints of rye spice, a little medicinal odour, and maple sugar.

Taste: Extremely intense rye spices with a bit of a sour and sweet alternation of flavours. The taste buds sizzle and pop with pepper, wood sweetness, and alcohol astringency.

Finish: Long intense rye flavours simmering on the tongue forever.

Balance: This is an experienced drinker's drink. I prefer to drink this neat, even though the company suggests adding water or ice. The more I drink this the more I love it. The flavours are astonishingly intense. Jim Murray's 2011 Whisky Bible comments on this: "...After tasting this I need to lie down somewhere and rest. Because so few whiskeys in the world are half as big as this, or more fun. Forget about descriptors; this one writes its own book." Jim: AMEN!

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35 comments

@joshk
joshk commented

Whole-heartedly agree with you Vic. All of the Old Potrero Ryes are quite good. Their young age makes them exceptionally vibrant and delicious need. For experianced drinker's palates it's quite good, this is one bottle I won't share because I feel like none of my casual drinking friends can handle it.

10 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

The sample that you kindly provided was like drinking a grain silo! A very unique 'retro' flavour indeed, and one that I would love to add to my cabinet. Again, my novice taste buds seem to gravitate to a bold flavour that wouldn't normally be enjoyed by a whisk(e)y newcomer.

10 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Pudge72, good for you! Bold is beautiful! The trick with Old Potrero is finding some to buy and to drink. They don't make a lot of it out there in San Francisco.

10 years ago 0

@chrisbator
chrisbator commented

I scored a bottle yesterday at one of my favorite SF shops (their only one).... and finally got to try this and it is definitely bold and beautiful. Rich dark color and lingers forever. This morning I can still taste it, ... but in a good way on this damp drizzly day. This is what I always imagined when I think of rye.

9 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@chrisbator, there is nothing else remotely like Old Potrero 18th Century whisky anywhere that I am aware of. The OP Single Malt Rye is very nice too, but it is cut down to 90 proof, and I prefer the toasted oak aging to the charring of the Single Malt Rye, aka "19th Century Style". I had 1/2 oz of the end of a bottle of the Old Potrero Hotaling's Whiskey at a bar. Bottles of Hotaling's Whiskey have not been available for sale for years. It is #1 on my wish list.

9 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@chrisbator, oh...and my wife, aka Dramlette, managed to pick up an extra bottle of Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey yesterday, while traveling in Kentucky. Anchor Distilling doesn't produce much of it and they don't sell much of it.

9 years ago 0

ourobouros commented

Victor, thanks for this and for so many of your other thoughtful reviews. I may have a line on a few bottles of the Hotaling's, so let me know if you're still looking for it, ok?

9 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@ourobouros, yes, absolutely I am still looking for the Hotaling's Whiskey. I will be in contact with you.

NB. The new batch recently released of the Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey is bottled at 51.2% abv/102.4 proof. I haven't tried any of it yet.

9 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

NB: This reviewed 63.64% abv bottle was from "Essay 10-RW-ARM-J", or just 'batch J' abbreviated. The new 51.2% abv batch is from 'batch K'. I also very recently purchased some older bottles at 62.05% abv from 'batch H'. I have sampled the lower proof 'batch K' and it is delightful. I was concerned about loss of flavour in the much lower alcohol content batch. There was no need to be concerned!

9 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

Woohoo! Does the lower ABV 'same great taste' batch mean that there will be more bottles available? Here's hoping...thanks for the updates @Victor!

9 years ago 0

MarkSas commented

Well, i'm almost ashamed to admit this, but i've had a bottle of this in my cabinet for almost 10 years without touching it! I used to be the head chef of a brew pub in Berkeley and many years ago the owner had purchased this for myself and the GM. At the time i was young and really only cared about craft beer. Since, i have moved to the east coast and brought this along with me. Over the last several years i have really taken a liking to whisky, especially American. So recently i decided to dust off this old bottle to have a go, and wow, i was floored! I remembered thinking when i first received it in CA that it was quite harsh and that is was just some "experiment" from Anchor Brewing Co. Boy was i wrong. This time i let it breath, and added just a touch of cold filtered water. I thought this really took the initial burn away and really brought out the rest of the flavors. I'm glad i discovered this website and in particular this review, when i get home i going to try it again neat. Cheers!

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Cheers, @MarkSas! Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey was one of the very few whiskeys which I have encountered to which I really had to adjust and get used to the flavours of something entirely different. It took a little bit of time to get the feel for it, but ever since then I have been totally hooked. I wouldn't want to be without it.

After wanting it for a couple of years I finally got a tip from @ourobouros, above, and was able to get some Old Potrero Hotaling's Whiskey. I still don't feel like I have the Hotaling's Whiskey completely figured out, but it is great. It is very complex, and like the 18th Century Style, very unusual.

You must have a rather early batch of 18th Century Style. Which letter is at the end of the batch information on your bottle?

8 years ago 0

MarkSas commented

Victor- After looking at my bottle, I notice a few things... First of all, it's not labeled as Whisky or Rye, it says "Single Malt Spirit", "A distilled spirit produced from rye malt mash aged two years in new and used uncharred oak barrels" It is barrel strength @ 62.2% "For sale in California only" The barrel date is 12/9/98 The bottling date is 4/20/01 The bottle is #133 - hand written The batch letter is A

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Wow! Looks like you got the very first batch! I guess you have to infer the '18th Century Style' from the fact that it is aged in uncharred barrels. Jim Murray was already raving about Old Potrero when he wrote his "Classic Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye Whiskey" book published in 1998. I'd love to try a sample from that bottle of yours.

8 years ago 0

MarkSas commented

I'm "sampling" some right now actually. I poured a glass before dinner to let it breath, and now i must tell you, it's absolutely delicious! I believe that it benefited from that time and my patience is paying off, It's actually very very smooth, with unbelievable character. I would be more than happy to share if I could.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MarkSas, you could lay aside 50 ml for me in a re-used mini bottle and save it for me in that form. I've got tons available to trade, as my cabinet will attest. I fully expect to get the deal completed one day.

8 years ago 0

MarkSas commented

Of course, I'd gladly make a trade to try something of yours. We'll talk soon - Mark

8 years ago 0

@PeatyZealot
PeatyZealot commented

Great review! I was looking for ways to sample or taste this without succes. But oh joy, a friend of mine found one in a liquor store and he is bringing the OP single malt tonight! I´ll be sure to make some notes!

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@PeatyZealot, Great to hear that you will drink some Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey! Old Potrero 18th Century is great fun for the adventurous. If you can, try to note which batch you are sampling from...they do each have their own subtle individual characters, even though this whiskey is the farthest thing from subtle! Don't expect it to taste like anything else you've tried, though...this is one of very very few whiskeys which required from me an adjustment to get used to the flavours.

8 years ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

Sorry Victor but I have bad news for you. Last friday, I went to my state liquor store in Montreal Canada and I had the spirit expert tasting a little sample of my bottle... He was so impressed with it that he took a picture of the bottle and will try to get the buyers of the state liquor store to go for it. So maybe there will be less bottles available for you in a near future. In Quebec, we don't have a lot of American Whiskey. A few Bourbon and I don't remember seeing any American Rye. I would like to change that and I am thanking you for all your reviews even if because of them I have to planned more trips to the States than my budget allowed me to do... Well, when you're in love, you know how it is...Cheers!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Robert99, it is something of an accomplishment for any jurisdiction to obtain a supply of Old Potrero. Maryland and Virginia have none of it at all. It is highly mysterious where this juice goes and how to obtain any of it. It will be interesting to see whether SAC is able to get some.

My only answer to this mystery is to buy it whenever I see it. Cheers!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Make that "SAQ"!...and thanks, @Robert99 for your kind words.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

N.B. Batch N is absolutely fantatic! The nose is HUGE, and the palate vibrant. You want to sell me your bottle, @Nock?

6 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

It looks like it is now readily available from both K&L and Hi-Time Wine Cellars, both of which ship to states that allow it.

$70 at K&L, $60 at Hi-Time.

6 years ago 0

@chrisbator
chrisbator commented

Yeah, the 18th century style has been all over the San francisco Bay Area for a couple of months. And the price has been coming down. Nobody has any of the Hotalings or Straight Rye though.... Those I really want, my straight rye bottle is a little low. Never had the Hotaling.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@OlJas, @chrisbator, I do hope that the availability of Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey remains good. Some of it made it for the first time ever to Maryland about 6 months ago. My sister saw three bottles on a shelf and bought them. Turns out that was 25% of the allocation for this state of 5.9 million people. It will likely be another year before any more comes to Maryland. No sign of Single Malt Rye or Hotaling's Whiskey here.

From the outside, Hotaling's Whiskey appears to be a very long-term experiment in aging one batch of distillate for a progressively longer number of years. I wonder how much longer it can and will go on. Based on my 14yo MMIX bottling of Hotaling's Whiskey, current Hotaling's, if they are still bottling it, should be a 19 yo.

I've found 18th Century Style in the past at at least 4 different DC stores, always 1-3 bottles, always a rare, temporary and occasional find. Never have I seen either Single Malt Rye or Hotaling's Whiskey on a DC shelf. The only Single Malt Rye I have gotten has been through a store on Long Island, and the only Hotaling's Whiskey from a 400 mile trip to a store in Northern New Jersey.

6 years ago 0

@newlad56
newlad56 commented

Victor, there is still some of the Old Potrero I picked up in NH, at last week, at least 16 bottles @ $50 a bottle. It's the 102.4 proof that I got. Perhaps I can arrange for one of my relatives to acquire some of it. It's not listed in the NH liquor catalog, but the NH liquor officials I deal with still have access to which store has how many bottles. Let me know, I'll help you acquire some, if you wish.

4 years ago 0

@newlad56
newlad56 commented

The batch number is:10-RW-ARM-3-S.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Thanks, @newlad56! I have a few bottles of the various Old Potreros salted away and I am good to go with my current stocks. As I commented to @Robert99 recently, at first I was not too impressed with Batch S compared to all the other batches of the Old Potrero 18th Century Style I have tasted, but, after his bottle took some air, I am liking it just fine.

Also, about 2 or 3 years ago, Maryland started getting some Old Potrero for the first time ever, so it is a little more attainable in the middle Atlantic region of the US than before. For sure, though, Old Potrero 18th Century Style Spirit (the currently used name on the label) is one I always want to have around, and will restock whenever my stores get down to only 1 or 2 bottles remaining.

4 years ago 0

@newlad56
newlad56 commented

You're welcome, Victor. The label on this batch says."Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey". Below it, it continues, "Pot distilled from 100% rye malt mash & aged 2 years 6 months in uncharred oak barrels". So, it's not described as a spirit but a whiskey on this batch. Interesting change. Makes me curious as to why.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@newlad56, that was my mistake. The Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey retains that name on its domestic labels. The "18th Century Style Spirit" label is what they label it for sale in the UK. My confusion arose from spending time very recently on The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt websites, where I saw the UK label.

And it was just a little over 2 years ago that I first saw some Old Potrero in Maryland, in Baltimore, as referenced in the comment trail above. To this day, though, there has been only one occasion when I have ever seen either the Old Potrero Single Malt Rye (aka "19th Century Style Rye Whiskey") or the long-aged Old Potrero Hotaling's Whiskey on a liquor store shelf. That was in 2012, when I drove 400+ miles roundtrip to northern New Jersey to buy 3 bottles of Hotaling's Whiskey and 3 bottles of 18th Century Style Whiskey, Batch H.

Old Potrero Hotaling's Whiskey has always been next to impossible to find for most folks. Wine-searcher.com secondary market search engine shows none of it available for sale anywhere worldwide as of July 2016.

4 years ago 0

@DaveM
DaveM commented

Victor, don't hold me to this, but I was at Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville and I could swear I saw a bottle of Old Potrero on the shelf if are are looking for more.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@DaveM, thanks for thinking of me! Yes, my sister @Maddie reported that bottle at Shawan to me 3 or 4 days ago. I am good for now, with several bottles on hand. I will probably be looking to restock Old Potrero in about 2 or 3 years from now. Thanks again.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@MadSingleMalt, thanks for thinking of me. As for Old Potrero with Chardonnay cask finish...rye plus wine makes me suspicious. Usually not a good idea.

3 years ago 0

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