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Old Potrero "Barrel 22" Single Malt Rye Whiskey

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This San-Francisco-as-can-be distiller is for many locals synonymous with the city itself. Anchor was founded in the Gold Rush era, survived Prohibition, financial storms, and multiple fires, all while adapting to the city’s ever-changing populace and geography. Their story of constant change mirrors the city itself: most recently the sale of Anchor separated the brewery from the distillery (now operating under the Hotaling & Co umbrella), and the new marketing team is getting ready to zhuzh the brand with an updated bottle and label. With the window closing on private barrels bottled in the iconic squat bottles, we knew this was the time to select some choice barrels from the Potrero Hill-distilled stock.

Inspired by Scotch production, Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey is a 100% Single Malt Rye - a mash bill that’s still uncommon today, and was virtually unheard of when it was launched in 1993. We love malted rye for its chewy, chocolatey, and sweeter profile, more chocolate malt balls than the spicy and lean rye bread that the more common ummalted rye whiskey is compared to. And while few have followed that particular path, the growing thirst for complex, deep and assertive ryes owes much to Old Potrero’s success. We toast these pioneers with two delightful whiskeys (Barrels 22 & 23), both aged 6 years and 3 months, in #3 char barrels in Napa Valley, and bottled at cask strength.

Barrel #22 is certainly the louder of the two sibling barrels. On the nose it’s a gust of vintage book shop aroma mixed with Mexican hot chocolate. The palate is full bodied and buttery, and greets you with ample dark, spiced chocolate, varnished wood, sweet cinnamon, and well-toasted sugar. This all subsides to more measured flavors of long-steeped Ceylon tea and summer sour cherries, and then on to a long finish of rye grain, dry tobacco and clove, and a feeling reminiscent of a warm cup of chai. A few drops of water brings out smooth milk chocolate, nilla wafers and malt balls.