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  1. #11
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Chuck, according to this webpage, Old Potrero has a 100% rye mashbill. Does it have the rye bread flavor you're talking about?

  2. #12
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    I love how in the review of the "Classic Cask" rye, someone used the term "Acetone" to describe it.

  3. #13
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    "Acetone"
    What blatant plagiarism!!

  4. #14

    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Byrn in 1875 in his Complete Practical Distiller gave the classic recipe for true rye whiskey: 80% unmalted rye, 20% barley malt. I believe that recipe informed the great ryes which were made until the 1950's
    Well, Fritz Maytag claims that the rye whiskey George Washington drank was made from 100 % malted rye. And that is how Old Potrero is made.

    And to another question, no, Old Potrero doesn't taste like rye bread. But what I have tried is too young. It will be interesting to see how it ages.

    Regards, jimbo

  5. #15
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    It is my belief that straight rye whiskey was often made from 80% or so unmalted rye and 20% barley malt. Certainly some recipes, also depending on what was available, would have employed some corn, in an obverse to the typical Bourbon recipe of today, this is how most rye is made today at any rate. With respect to evidence, this is fragmentary but I have seen in bottle collections 1930's bottles of Baltimore Pure Rye subtitled the "rye-e" rye with a statement that the product was made from 98% rye. The remainder may have been barley malt. I have seen other early 20th century rye labels in books, and I believe one bottle at the Getz, which referred to the contents being made from "the purest rye and barley malt". This ties into Byrn's recipe, in my view, so that until rye died out in Maryland and Baltimore I believe some of it always was made to Byrn's recipe if not using even more rye as BPR rye did. So Maytag was right that there was a tradition of all-rye whiskey - even Byrn admits that one could make rye from an all-rye grist, but he favoured the mix indicated for its greater efficiency (conversion in modern parlance). I believe that unlike Bourbon where corn is leavened with a measure of rye small grains and benefits from it, the mix of corn and rye in the proportions currently used for rye whiskey results in an unusual palate, a kind of "muddy" taste that I now like (I have acquired the taste) but would, I think, benefit from less or no corn. The reason I say this is the Maytag ryes offer much promise. Their only begative is their youth. I think at 8-12 years old they would be extremely good. Lot 40 from Canada is an all-rye, pot still whisky (a combo of malted and unmalted rye was used) and is very good, it has the perfumy taste of Maytag but (at about 8 years old) much more maturity and depth. Unfortunately it is not aged exclusively if at all in new charred casks. If it was, an extra dimension would be added which would likely approximate to the old Byrn-type Monongahela rye. Another reason I think an 80% rye-content whiskey would be good is my tasting of all or high-rye genever gins. One of these, Filliers of Belgium (actually made from corn, wheat, rye and barley malt but mostly the rye I understand) is very good and if enveloped in U.S.-style vanilla and barrel char would be extremely good and again I am thinking would get close to what Maryland rye whiskey was in, say, 1900. I do agree that ORVW rye is superb but in this case I believe the high corn content makes it almost a bourbon (ditto for the Michter's "original sour mash" whiskey until it closed in the early 80's. So the one thing missing from the current product ranges of the Bourbon makers is a very high rye content whiskey that is long aged in charred new oak. I am speculating but based on the historical evidence I would think the revival of this recipe would be well received. This may well offer the "rye bread" palate that has been spoken of. The Lot 40 is quite close to that taste with a perfumy overlay that may either be a house characteristic or something that aging in new charred barrels would have rubbed out, leaving the spicy rye bread palate untramelled.

    Too bad that Fritz Maytag sells his products so young, it is a mystery I cannot fathom.

    Gary

  6. #16
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Fortune magazine in November 1933 carried a series of articles on the impending end of Prohibition. It states in a sidebar entitled "A Whiskey Primer":

    "All whiskey making begins with some sort of grain. Pure rye whiskey, as you might suppose, begins with rye: usually about 85%".

    The need to use barley malt to aid in conversion would have left little if any room for corn. This provides, two generations after Byrn's statements, evidence that quality rye whiskey used almost all rye in its spec. I feel a "rye bread" palate (caraway, herbal, floral, "cereal") would have been the hallmark of such whiskey. Indeed Lot 40 tastes like that albeit it is overly (to my taste) perfumy and not sufficiently smoky from barrel char. Of the ryes currently available, Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye Whiskey comes close to a rye bread taste. I like it a lot and would enjoy tasting it at about double its current age.

    Here is an amusing and telling quote from the Fortune article:

    "Suppose we glance hastily at the pre-prohibition whiskey business. Most of the whiskey that was drunk was blended and rectified (mixed with other whiskey and alcohol and water and some kind of flavoring - sherry, brandy, rum, prune juice, anthing). [In Chuck's lexicon, "ADT"]. Maybe one-fourth of it was whiskey, maybe less. It was this technique of the pre-prohibition whiskey men that the bootleggers borrowed, and, more precise in their diction, termed "cutting". And so the post-prohibition whiskey men can stretch their supply. One part whiskey to four parts alcohol and water will make a drink that might not satisfy a Kentucky Colonel but will be plenty good enough for you".

    As Jackie Gleason used to say, "now that's FUNNY".

    Gary


  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    No, it doesn't. Maybe it will with some decent age, but I doubt it. I find the taste of Old Potrero interesting but not otherwise enjoyable. I also consider the whiskey and just about everything he says about it products of an active imagination, bearing no actual relationship to any whiskey-making tradition.

  8. #18
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    > I also consider the whiskey and just about everything he says about it products
    > of an active imagination, bearing no actual relationship to any whiskey-making
    > tradition.

    Do you happen to have a written rebuttal addressing Maytag's claims? (I'll
    confess that I don't have a subscription to the Bourbon Country Reader,
    which would probably be your main outlet for more formal writing.)

    It's my feeling that Maytag has some fanciful ideas, but that American
    whiskeymaking in the early days showed a fair amount of variation in
    style and technique. Add poor documentation into the mix, and we
    could honestly justify just about anything... including Maytag's
    stuff.

    Tim Dellinger

  9. #19
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Maytag says his purpose is to recreate pioneer whiskey and he casts his year-old "toasted" barrel product as "18th century whiskey" and his 3-year-old, charred barrel product as "19th century whiskey." He offers no historical support for these claims and from my reading of the history that is known, I know of no sources that support his claims.

    His other, equally unsupported and even more far-fetched claim is that 18th and early 19th century distillers were distilling from 100 percent malted rye. In other words, not malting rye and using it as 10 to 15 percent of the mashbill as bourbon distillers do now with malted barley, but using a mash of 100 percent malted rye, a parallel to the 100 percent malted barley distilling of the Scottish highlands.

    I suppose one could take the position that since so little is known definitively, one theory is as good as another, but what little evidence there is seems to lean in the opposite direction. A Kentucky recipe from about 1800 shows proportions of corn, rye and barley malt similar to modern bourbon mashbills. George Washington's distillery in Virginia is being extensively researched and we know his distillery included a malt kiln. We also know the mash bill he used was 60 percent rye, 35 percent corn, and 5 percent malted barley. We also know that this malt kiln was built in December of 1798, more than a year after the distillery began operations, so prior to that he was acquiring malt from an outside source. Malted barley would have been readily available from maltsters serving the brewing industry. I know of no reason anyone would have been producing malted rye.

    With Maytag, it appears as if he decided to do something (i.e., make a whiskey from 100 percent malted rye), then devised a corresponding historical theory. The fact that he offers zero evidence to support his theory is more telling than any evidence I might offer to refute it.

  10. #20

    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    It is hard to imagine that anyone used 100% malted rye to make whiskey. Or any malted rye for that matter, when there was readily available malted barley from the brewing industry. The 80% unmalted rye and 20% malted barley seems more likely. And it seems that I have read somewhere that about 15% malted barley is needed to provide the starch to sugar conversion for the other 85% of unmalted grain, so that also fits the 80-20 recipe.

    I think corn comes into the picture as a low cost source of starch. I imagine early brewers and distillers experimented with the addition of corn to the mash bill as a cost cutting step. Probably the same thing is true of the use of wheat in beer and bourbon.

    Anyway, it all led to a wonderful variety of taste and style.

    I also wonder why Maytag sells Old Potrero so young. My best guess is that he wants the cash flow to sustain operations until he accumulates an older inventory.

    Regards, jimbo

 

 

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