Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Hotaling & Co. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
If the names Fritz Maytag and “Anchor” sound familiar, I’ll assume that you’ve frequented the craft beer fridge at your local grocery. Maytag earned a prominent place on those shelves after purchasing and resuscitating the struggling Anchor brewery in 1965 and building a now well-known (and well-defended) craft brand around their Steam Beer (otherwise known as “California Common”) that proved highly influential for American craft brewing.
In the 90s, Maytag identified a not-dissimilar opportunity in the field of distillation, noting that the tradition of American rye whiskey had fallen into disrepair and that pot stills were few and far between in the United States (they are still significantly outnumbered by higher-capacity column stills). The Anchor Distilling Company was established in 1993 and barreled its first pot-distilled, 100% rye mash whiskey the following year.
Anchor Distilling has since expanded and rebranded as Hotaling & Co. (another nod to the history of San Francisco’s beverages industry), boasting a well-curated spirits portfolio that includes the stalwart 100% rye pot-still whiskey under the label Old Potrero.
Named in honor of the San Francisco neighborhood that houses the original Anchor distillery (originally christened “Nuevo Potrero” or “New Pasture” by Spanish colonists), Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey is aged six years in fresh, fine grain charred American oak barrels imbuing it for richer color and unique flavor. The end product is an interesting example of innovation in spirits production achieved through reference to traditional processes that I’m looking forward to sampling!
Tasting Notes: Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged 6 years, 97 proof, average retail price of $45
Appearance: Darker, slightly reddish-copper hue, somewhat light body.
Nose: Big, rounded fruit-skin tannins and lighter nut-flavors, cashew or almond, ending with a cinnamon tingle.
Palate: Not dissimilar to the nose, but with some added definition, this has nearly the exact flavor of roast mixed nuts with brown sugar and cayenne. Dried fruits emerge on the finish to shift into more of a “trail mix” sort of mode.
This is a unique, interesting pour. Based on looks, I’d expected a somewhat oilier consistency, but it is surprisingly smooth in body and flavor. Even with the rye turned up to 11, the spicy aspect of Old Potrero isn’t at all overwhelming. It actually plays an effective complementary role. This works as a sipper and an ambitious mixologist could likely find good uses for this particular constellation of rye flavors.