View Full Version : Potrero pricing

11-01-2004, 17:01
On a recent trip to my favorite warehouse liquor store, I noticed that the price of the Potrero whiskies has dropped dramatically. Where they were once in the $79 to $90 range, they are now priced a bit more realistically from $45 - $55. I've only noticed at this one store, and have looked nowhere else, so this could be anomolous pricing.

Has anyone else noticed the same?

11-01-2004, 17:07
I also noticed the price drop on the HiTime website. The straight rye, which had been priced much higher, experienced a dramatic drop. I wonder if these are new batches or just a price reduction of existing stock.

11-01-2004, 19:24
Even with a lower price, I'm not buying any. Don't like the stuff... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif That money will have to go to something good. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif

11-01-2004, 19:29
Potrero just changed distributors here and the price reduced slightly for a case buy, but I can't even buy it for as low as is listed on hitimewine.com. The new versions have different labels I noticed with my last shipment.

11-01-2004, 19:40
Still $99 in the only store around here where I've seen it.

11-02-2004, 07:15
My local store is 10% lower than Hi-Time. I agree with Bob however, the stuff tastes like scotch to me.

11-03-2004, 06:35
Now Jim, I didn't say it tastes like scotch, which I like. Old Potero just tastes like crap! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif


11-03-2004, 07:25
just tastes like crap!

Didn't I just say that? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

I omitted a word from my original post. It should have read "agree with Bob however, as the stuff tastes like scotch to me."

I will say it openly here: I do not like scotch! In fact, it repulses me. It's nothing personal against those who make or drink scotch; this has only to do with a couple bad experiences from my youth. I suppose with some work I could get over it, but as long as there's bourbon on the planet, I'm in no hurry. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Hedmans Brorsa
11-03-2004, 07:43
O. Potrero is, of course, not widely available here in Europe, but at the specialist shops who usually stock it, they seem to be their usual expensive selves.

What made me look twice, though, was the appearance of a 90 proof at La Maison du Whisky. It is almost as pricey as the older bottlings, though. This is all new to me but La Maison seem to have a penchant for releasing special bottlings of their own. Currently they have a 14 yo Eagle Rare which I have never seen anywhere else.

Incidentally, I think there´s a huge difference between the OP matured in used barrels and the one matured in new, charred barrels. The latter, although different, has a decidedly American feel. The former, on the other hand, tastes and noses like no other whisk(e)y that I have experienced, irrespective of origin. I think both of them, in their own way, contribute to the variety in the whiskey world.

11-04-2004, 00:06
I agree, Jim, it does taste like Scotch to me, too. Always confuses folks, too, cuz I have it in the rye shelf and since it says "single malt" on the label, it throws people for a loop that don't know what it is.

11-04-2004, 09:05
Old Potrero really is its own category of whiskey. (Well, it's a category that so far no one else has entered.) I don't think Anchor is doing themselves or their customers any favors by trying to shoehorn it into a category like "Straight Rye" or "Single Malt", since none of their products tastes like regular straight rye, or like single (barley) malt whiskey. I was very surprised the first time I tried it, how different the malted rye tasted, compared to straight ryes made with unmalted grain. The labeling regs specifically mention "malted rye" as a separate category of whiskey and a variety of straight whiskey; it seems to me that Potrero should have to be labeled as such, but a strange logic seems to apply to whiskey labeling requirements (see other threads re Tennessee whiskey).

Around here, both versions of Old Potrero used to sell for $99, but about a year or so ago the younger ("18th Century") version came down in price to $69. I haven't seen the older ("19th Century") expression lately at my usual haunts, so I don't know if it would still be $99 or not.

11-04-2004, 12:00
Anchor uses malted rye for both its whiskies. However, all rye whiskey made today in America uses, for the rye component, malted rye. This was told to me by Craig Beam. Historically, rye whiskey used either malted rye, unmalted rye or both. If unmalted rye only was used, malted barley would be used to supply the necessary enzyme for saccharification. The reason Anchor's ryes taste different from other ryes is (in my opinion) they are not aged as long as the other ryes. By the way, Canadian Club whisky incorporates some (true, low proof) rye distillate made from unmalted rye. This is the flavouring element added to the high proof base before aging. CC adds malted rye distillate, too. (So CC is composed of circa 195 proof spirit let down to barreling strength, lower proof new malted rye spirit and ditto proof of new unmalted rye spirit and then the whole thing is put away in oak for 6-20 years, depending on the age expression). I don't know what the taste difference is between malted and unmalted rye whiskies. I would think the unmalted rye has a more robust taste, because pot still Irish whiskey is said (by Michael Jackson) to taste more robust than other types of whiskey due to its component of raw barley. So the use of raw rye probably also would impart a heavy, possibly oily taste. I always felt Old Potrero would be excellent at 6-8 years old but I believe Fritz Maytag wishes to sell it younger for historical reasons. Certainly a lot of rye whiskey would have been sold at 1-3 years old in the eras in question.


11-05-2004, 10:17
Anchor uses malted rye for both its whiskies. However, all rye whiskey made today in America uses, for the rye component, malted rye. This was told to me by Craig Beam.

Really? Really? While I hesitate to gainsay Craig Beam, I find that a little hard to believe, because the flavor difference between whiskeys that announce they are made with malted rye and those that just call themselves "Rye" is so striking.

I can't believe it's just age. Ryes like Old Overholt and Rittenhouse and yellow label Jim Beam are not, I strongly suspect, that much older than the "19th Century" (around 3 years old) Old Potrero, but there is a night-and-day difference between the tastes. Taste a young bourbon and an older bourbon and while there will be differences, you can immediately tell that they are both bourbon. Not so with Old Potrero and any straight rye I've ever tried. They don't taste like different versions of the same thing; they taste like different things.

Nor do I believe it's due to the varied mashbill in straight ryes. Lot 40 Canadian is made with malted rye, but it's not a pure malted rye whiskey. While God only knows what actually goes into any given Canadian, the fact is that the characteristic Old Potrero taste is present in Lot 40, albeit less strongly than in Old Potrero (even after the Old Potrero is diluted down to a more comfortable drinking proof). Based on that experience, I don't think that the corn in American straight rye is masking the malted rye flavor; I don't think it's there to start with.

The most compelling reason why I don't believe that straight ryes contain malted rye is economic. Straight ryes are (today anyway) all produced by distillers who make mainly bourbon. Sales are comparatively miniscule, and rye whiskey (leaving aside anomalies like Michter's and Sazerac) is sold fairly cheap, at approximately the price level of the distillers' entry-level bourbons. Now, all those distillers have a supply of unmalted rye they use in their bourbon. At the same time, malted rye is more expensive than unmalted rye. Which is more likely: they are going to go out and get a more expensive component for a product of no economic importance to them that they bottle almost purely for historic reasons, or, that they just adjust the proportions of corn and rye in the mash and otherwise proceed as usual?

And, I'm pretty confident that distillers are not using malted rye in their bourbons. Aside from the fact that if the distillers were using a more expensive component I would expect them to say so loudly and often, (a) if the rye was malted, there would be no need for malted barley in the mashbill, and (b) in descriptions of whiskey-making I've read, the rye is generally mashed at a temperature rather higher than one could mash a malted grain without destroying the critical enzymes.

Malted and unmalted grains produce very distinct flavors when mashed, as can be demonstrated comparing Irish whiskey (made with unmalted barley in the mashbill) to Scotch. I am highly confident that when I taste Old Potrero or Lot 40 and compare it to a straight rye that I am seeing the same sort of distinction.

(Aside: several books I've read on moonshining describe malting corn for the production of old-time corn likker--what might a whiskey from a mashbill of 100% malted corn taste like? Put it on the list of "Things We'd Like To Try" with the four-grain bourbon and straight wheat whiskey (and for that matter, straight malted wheat whiskey).)

I would be shocked but interested to learn I am wrong about this.

Chuck King
(the other whiskey-drinking lawyer named Chuck from Chicago)

11-05-2004, 11:17
I agree that unmalted rye is used in bourbon production, as a general rule anyway. My comments were on rye whiskey and I am quite sure Craig Beam told me (Sampler '04), when discussing Pikesville Rye, that he used malted rye and that this was the practice in general (for American rye whiskey). If my recollection is not accurate or I misunderstood what he said of course I take back what I said.

I too noticed to a degree a similarity of flavor between Lot 40 and Old Potrero. And true, Potrero is not much younger than a 4 year old rye. But then too, Potrero and Lot 40 were made in pot stills. No other U.S. rye is to my knowledge. I wonder if rye as distilled in a column still produces flavours different from rye distilled in a pot still. I had the impression that Lot 40 and Potrero contain many flavouring compounds that seem absent, or of lesser impact, in say Old Overholt. Then too the corn aspect in non-Potrero U.S. rye always is a factor although its presence alone should not mask rye flavor, I agree. Maybe Ken Weber would be kind enough to indicate if the rye used in Sazerac 18 year old rye was malted.

By the way my understanding about Lot 40 is that both unmalted and malted ryes are incorporated in it, but I don't know more than that.

The other thing, which I've always wondered about, is why (if at all) the use of malted vs. unmalted grain should make any real difference other than saving time (to convert) where malted is used. When unmalted grain is put into a mash in which malted barley and/or enzyme is added, the unmalted grain becomes malted. Maybe when malting occurs in the mash tun, "on the run" as it were, it isn't a complete process and the residual raw grain imparts compounds to the ferment and distillate which may explain the unusual taste of true Irish pot still. I just don't know.. The funny thing is, and I am not the only person to say this, Bushmill's whiskeys often taste noticeably "Irish pot still" even though they use (for the malt whisky component), an all-barley malt mash. So factors other than the degree of conversion of the starches when the grains are added to form the mash may be at work..


11-05-2004, 12:01
I think the key to Old Potrero's taste, in addition to its youth, must be its proof of distillation, which must be quite low. Whether you like it or not you have to admit it is flavorful and you only get that much flavor from low distillation proof.

11-05-2004, 12:15
Good point since normal (double) pot distillation favors flavorous low proof distillation. Unless they filter out the flavor compounds after! Last night I bought a vodka called Tito made in Austin, Texas. It is advertised (on the label) as made in a pot still but it still tastes clean as a whistle. The label says charcoal filtration is employed, and no doubt that is how they get the clean taste. This may explain by the way why the (single!) pot-stilled Forty Creek whiskies taste noticeably clean, not like vodka of course but still much milder than one might assume a cereal mash would produce in one run from the alembic (and Forty Creek always contains some rye whisky). In other words maybe the whisky is subjected to activated charcoal filtration before and/or after barreling.


11-08-2004, 16:55
However, all rye whiskey made today in America uses, for the rye component, malted rye. This was told to me by Craig Beam. Historically, rye whiskey used either malted rye, unmalted rye or both.

This didn't sound right to me so I checked with Craig Beam. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding. Heaven Hill does not use malted rye for its rye whiskey. They use unmalted rye, unmalted corn and malted barley.

The only thing they do when making rye whiskey that differs from making bourbon whiskey is that they cook the rye and corn together. With bourbon, the corn is cooked first at a higher temperature. Also, Craig told me Heaven Hill's ryes contain the legal minimum amount of rye, 51 percent, meaning they are 39 percent corn and 10 percent malt. (Give or take. The malt percentage may be a little higher or lower.) So the difference between Old Potrero and, say, Rittenhouse Rye, at least in terms of mash bill, is that Potrero is 100 percent rye while Rittenhouse is only 51 percent rye.

11-08-2004, 17:27
Thanks, Chuck, clearly I misunderstood Craig Beam and I thank you for correcting the record. Chuck King was right in his supposition on this.

As a sign of the enduring mysteries of the whiskey world, one might point out that it is Lot 40 and Old Potrero, which use malted rye, that taste funky by comparison to straight ryes such as Pikesville which use the unmalted iteration. Based on Irish whiskey tasting very robust when made with some unmalted barley and smoother when made with all-malted barley, one would have thought the same would be true in America viz. the use of unmalted and malted rye. Yet the reverse is the case! Proof (were it needed) that foreign practices should not dominate discussion of U.S. whiskey questions.


11-14-2004, 09:05
I think the reason the price has come down, at least for the three year old, is that it is no longer cask strength, but watered down to 90 proof. I think it originally came out at cask strength.