** This is the third post in a new series by Mack McConnell called West Coast Whiskey. Mack’s a contributing writer for Cocktail Enthusiast. When he’s not writing about whiskey, he’s probably drinking it. He also runs Taster’s Club Whiskey of the Month. **
For the third installment of West Coast Whiskey, we’re heading into the heart of San Francisco and exploring the Anchor Distillery. Before getting into distillation and whiskey, Anchor enjoyed a century’s worth of success as a beer brewer. And today they’re still best known for their popular lineup of beers, including Anchor Steam.
But current owner Fritz Maytag (yes, from that family of Maytags), decided to dabble in the whiskey business. And when deciding what kind of whiskey he wanted to produce, Maytag found inspiration in the way whiskey was originally made in America. The same kind of whiskey famed distiller (and President) George Washington used to make – 100% rye whiskey bottled at the same strength it came off the still. And unaged.
Unfortunately, some prohibition-era laws still exist that don’t allow Anchor to bottle their rye directly from the still. So instead, they age their whiskey for a short two years before bottling (at least two years in a barrel is also what lets brands dub their product “Straight” Rye Whiskey). The end result is the single malt, 100% rye Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey.
While bourbon is primarily made from corn, which gives whiskey a smooth and sweet flavor, ryes must be comprised of at least 51 percent rye grains. This gives whiskey a noticeably different flavor profile – it’s spicier, woodier and more full-bodied.
Color: Gold to amber.
Nose: Dive in for an old, musty barn full of grain. It’s like inhaling dark sugar and old leather inside a library.
Taste: Intense rye flavor and a hint of sour spice. It’s complex and full of spicy wood flavors. You’ll also find syrup, molasses and brown sugar notes, plus a hint of vanilla.
Rye was America’s whiskey of choice before prohibition, but began to lose popularity soon thereafter. Fortunately, innovative distilleries like Anchor are looking far into America’s past to show us how good 100% rye whiskeys can be.
– 45% Alcohol by Volume