Our First Whiskey Club Bottle Is...
Wright & Brown Cask Strength Single Barrel 3 Year Rye Whiskey ($89.50)!
There’s a tingle of excitement, that spark of anticipation we’re feeling as we prepare our very first Whiskey Club selection. It feels like Christmas morning that we get to share with all of you. With all this anticipation we knew that our first selection had to be something with a serious range of roles to play: crowd pleasing - yet truly unique and acclaimed. The bleeding edge of innovation, while still steeped in tradition. Most importantly this whiskey had to be delicious and delightful.
So without further ado, let us introduce you to a whiskey that has met all that criteria and captured our palates and hearts: Wright & Brown Cask Strength Single Barrel 3 Year Rye Whiskey.
Wright & Brown are true Californians, with deep roots in coastal agriculture. It can be tasted in every rye strain and water drop of this genuinely grain to glass, completely in-house, Oakland crafted whiskey. This 70% rye, 30% malted barley selection is slowly pot distilled from a sweet mash. It is made from hand selected grains, including non-GMO and locally sourced organic rye. The resulting product is non chill-filtered, and aged for 3 years in new, level #3 charred American white oak casks. This process preserves the full spectrum of its rich aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel.
The flavors inside are delightfully complex. Aromas of honey and freshly baked sweet bread rolls waft straight out of the bottle. We often think of a sipping experience as a journey, a delight for your tastebuds. This rings especially true with this rye: imagine an afternoon meandering from an amber field of grain, to a bakery, then ending up in a luscious orchard.
This is what sipping on this rye is like for us. Initial dry grain flavors remind that this is indeed a product cultivated by farmers’ hands. This is soon followed up by a full body of freshly baked bread that slowly rolls into a myriad of complex flavors ranging from bright candied ginger and cloves, to dark cherries, dates and toffee-like malt. With a slow as molasses finish of vanilla, apricot, and brown sugar that never loses its sweet rye grain backbone.
We are unabashedly enthusiastic in our head-over-heels excitement for our Wright & Brown Barrel #157.
After making our selection, Wright & Brown’s Cask Strength Rye was further validated when Wright & Brown’s standard release of this Cask Strength Rye was awarded a Gold Medal by the American Distilling Institute in the 2019 National Judging of Craft Spirits! It is the first California Rye to receive this honor.
Far from an award by a magazine or a marketing firm - this is as genuine as industry awards get: judged and voted on by respected distillers. This is an acknowledgement by its peers that Wright & Brown has made something truly special. As with any good single barrel selection, ours amplifies the qualities that captured the attention of ADI judges, and pushes the envelope a bit further with some bolder notes and extra aging.
Wright & Brown is a unique distillery - fueled just as much by passion, knowledge and skill as it by a willingness to experiment and follow their well honed intuition. We chatted with Earl Brown about their adventurous mash bill choices and dedication to a slower process that yields their signature flavor profile. Here is what he said:
“We like the malty richness, and the roasty, toffee flavors that malted barley contributes and how that interplays with the spice of the rye. It also makes for more depth of flavor and body than a higher rye mashbill. We really like that it is just such a different style than the Kentucky/Tennessee/Indiana ryes which often have high levels of corn. Ours is much closer to an old Monongahela style rye from the perspective of mash bill (no corn), technique (sweet mash) and still type (not the traditional Pennsylvania Rye still, but much closer to it than to the column systems in the South.)
Another major reason we settled on the 70/30 mashbill is because we can get natural conversion, fermentation and distillation without added enzymes. Rye is hulled (doesn't have a hull like barley) and has a high beta-glucan content, which means that it can make a very sticky/viscous mash that is prone to setting (stopping) during fermentation. The stickiness is also a major problem at the distillation level, where it can coat the inside of the still and cause the distillation to slow way down and require extensive cleaning afterwards. Most distilleries deal with this by adding lab grown fungi enzymes to the mash to break down the beta-glucan. We wanted to make an (external) enzyme free whiskey. Just malted and unmalted grain, yeast, water, copper and oak. Not to say that using added enzymes is a bad thing; it is traditional and has been for a long, long time, but we liked the approach and the results.“
Wright & Brown Distillery is doing some phenomenal things that are cementing California’s growing reputation as a whiskey destination, and we think you’ll agree that this rye is worth all the work that they’ve put into it. But most of all, more than any of the fun facts and romantic sentiments, we hope that you’ll sip a glass of it along with us, and smile at the simple pleasure of a damn good whiskey.
You can still scoop up a bottle! Sign up for the whiskey club here by April 30th! This club selection is $89.50 / bottle.