Old Potrero B&B Single Barrel Reserve 8.5 Year Rye Whiskey
I think after 10 years in this business, I know the hill I’m going to die on – that Old Potrero is a criminally underrated whiskey. It sells well enough, mostly in the store, and mostly to folks who enjoy the fact that it’s locally made. Somehow though, it seems to barely register amongst “serious whiskey people”. They have certainly had enough time to build a reputation, they basically kicked off the craft whiskey renaissance way back in 1993. For context, Willett’s master distiller Drew Kulsveen was about 10 back then, and that distillery was still a decade off from resuming production. Old Potrero and their Master Distiller, Bruce Joseph, who remarkably has been there all along – haven’t changed much in 30 years. Their whiskey is entirely pot distilled, from 100% rye malt. New Riff has made hay of their rye malt whiskey – as a groundbreaking, more sophisticated and elegant take on rye, they got going in 2014. Old Potrero has experimented with their barreling a bit, and for ages now have been using 24 month air dried, extra fine grain American oak, first fully toasted and then charred. Wilderness Trail almost gets there with their 18 month old staves. Perhaps being in the shadow of Anchor Steam the pressure to grow and grow and grow wasn’t there. While they were all under one roof, Old Potrero operated out of the garage. When Anchor was purchased and Old Potrero split off, they moved to Pier 50, and now they literally distill in the San Francisco bay. The whiskey’s branding was also updated while the move was underway, actually doing that incredibly rare thing – aging it up, now released with a 6 Year statement. And this single barrel reserve selection, ostensibly bottled as a cask strength single barrel sibling to that 6 year expression, takes it even further – up to 8 years and 7 months.
All of this to say, maybe don’t tell anyone how good this stuff is, the internet doesn’t need to know absolutely everything. I for one am happy to keep getting extra aged whiskey, produced slowly, from exceptional grains, in super small quantities, which lands on our shelves for 1/3 the price a competitor’s comparable bottles would sell at.
Barrel OP-6-13-1 was bottled non-chill filtered at 64.72% abv. On the nose you’ll find cinnamon, burnt caramel, butter, spiced studded baked apples, malted milk balls, Jaffa cakes, and a hint of toasted oak. The palate is creamy and mouth coating, with bright cherry and red delicious apple, zings of ginger, spice, and salted chocolate chip cookies linger on the oily long finish, with the chewy malt giving way to hints of rosemary and savory rye. A remarkable whiskey.