Wright & Brown #486 Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
Dan Wright & Earl Brown are deeply rooted Northern Californians, raised amongst our coastal agriculture. This translates directly into their award-winning spirits, which now include rye, bourbon, rum, and single malt whiskey. Only recently has the whiskey world started to give proper attention to local grains, and terroir-minded producers (thus far, mostly with Scotch) - but Wright & Brown has made it their focus from the start. While it’s not hard to imagine why a couple of California farm boys would care about the source of their grain, what’s really intriguing is seeing the effect their grain hyper-knowledge has on furthering the definition of true California whiskey.
This time around we went for a sweeter expression that captures the bready essence of this style of rye. This 3 year and 4 month rye has all the sweet qualities of Monongahela (or Pennsylvania) style ryes, which can be remarkable to newcomers when they remember that these mashbills contain zero corn. The nose greets us with Hawaiian rolls, caramel apple, pancake syrup, vanilla, and baking spice. The palate carries through with more fresh Hawaiian rolls, with a fruity side of peaches, apricots, and raspberries. Nilla wafers, fresh oats and, of course, rye bread, are present throughout. A light grassiness, cinnamon bark and mint make themselves known on the finish, tying it all off with more sugar and spice. Bottled at 114 proof.
To capture these big flavors Wright & Brown adheres to slow techniques adapted from pre-prohibition distillation: all non-GMO grains, malting done locally at Alameda’s own Admiral Maltings, sweet mash fermentation, a Vendome still similar to a traditional pot still, and no chill filtration. The distillate that goes into their largely California-sourced barrels is full bodied and intensely aromatic. They enter the barrel at a lower 110-115 proof, allowing for a gentler mingling of grain and wood. About half a decade later we meet our happy trinity.