Old Potrero Single Barrel Reserve Rye Whiskey Review - ForWhiskeyLovers.com

Old Potrero Single Barrel Reserve Rye Whiskey Review

By Richard Thomas

Rating: A-

Old Potrero Single Barrel Reserve
(Credit: Old Potrero)

San Francisco’s Old Potrero is part of a tiny class of distillers that I dubbed “craft whiskey before there was craft whiskey.” I say this because outfits like Old Potrero, St. George and Prichard’s were small distillers, starting out in an era when the whiskey industry as a whole was only just starting to rebound from hitting rock bottom after the Whiskey Bust of the 1970s. Yet the emergence of these small distillers may have blazed a path for others to follow, but it no one actually did. Old Potrero was ahead of its time, and the start of craft whiskey distilling as we know it today would wait for another decade.

All the more remarkable about being craft whiskey before there was such a thing is what Old Potrero has been doing since the mid-1990s. At a time when rye whiskey had contracted down to just Kentucky style ryes, mostly made for lower shelf brands, Old Potrero committed not just to making a 100% rye whiskey, but a 100% malted rye whiskey. It wasn’t until the middle 2010s that Old Potrero was joined by other distillers in making whiskey with that mash bill. With a nod to Scotland, the distillery uses double distillation in copper pot stills.

The distillery’s latest expression is its Single Barrel Reserve Rye. This was released as part of a trio of reserve whiskeys, with a combined production run of 6,400 bottles. The barrels going into this were toasted, then charred, and made from fine-grained staves, air dried for 24 months. In addition to being a single barrel, the whiskey is also cask strength. My sample was 64.95% ABV (129.9 proof) and 8 years, 3 months.

The Whiskey
Keeping in mind that my sample was well above 120 proof, I added a generous splash of water to the pour. Once that water was in, the drink took a bright amber appearance in the glass.

The nose was a touch musty, with a sweet current driven by toffee and vanilla. The spicy side runs with pumpernickel rye flavor and dill. As interesting a scent as that is, it was the flavor I found truly lovely. It sat in this place where the sorghum-molasses style of sweetness that so many malted rye whiskeys possess joins hands with sarsaparilla, which is what malted rye should have always been, in my humble opinion. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve been looking for malted rye to do this very thing on the palate for several years now.

The finish, however, was a undistinguished. It’s light, typically woody-spicy, and not long-lived. Yet despite that finish holding the whiskey back, it’s still supremely yummy. I finished my sample in the one sitting.

The Price
Expect to pay $90 a bottle for this item.

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