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  1. #21
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    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.

    That's more-or-less what he says, and that since the whole project is an experiment he wants to share the results with the public.

  2. #22
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Okay but it has been a good dozen years or so since Maytag first made rye whiskey. He could easily have released his whiskey at 6, 8, 10 or even 12 years old, but has not done so.

    Mr. Maytag is wealthy through the (well-deserved) success of his brewery but also by being a scion of the Maytag washing machine family, and fortune.

    I cannot believe that cost considerations have prevented him from releasing a whiskey older than 3 years.

    I think that rightly or wrongly he is fixed on the idea of selling whisky which is young because that supposedly is how it was sold in the 19th and 18th centuries.

    That may be true for the 1700's but by the mid-1800's well-aged rye and other whiskey was prized. He is presumably sitting on well-aged stocks that could fetch a pretty penny. The fact he won't sell it in this form leads me to think cost issues have nothing to do with it. At the very least one has to admire his "ideological" committment..

    Gary

  3. #23

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

    Then what does he plan to do with that older stock? If he has the older inventory, what will he do with it if his strategy is to market young whiskey for ideologic reasons?

    Regards, jimbo

  4. #24
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Trying to figure out and explain Fritz Maytag is an excercise that will get you only so far. It's better to stop before you hurt yourself.

  5. #25
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    I agree one possibility is he does not have any older stock, having ensured that everything went out at 1-3 years old. This seems unlikely, however. All distilleries should be so lucky to sell everything they make, especially start-ups! On the other hand, maybe he intentionally only made enough to sell in this fashion. If this is true, it seems an opportunity lost because early on in both America and Canada the long aging of rye whiskey (whether in charred or other barrels) took hold. And this was due to the beneficial results of the aging on the spirit.

    I do commend Fritz Maytag for making any kind of rye whiskey, however. This has created interest in the category and may stimulate the efforts of others.

    Gary

  6. #26
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    I do commend Fritz Maytag for making any kind of rye whiskey, however. This has created interest in the category and may stimulate the efforts of others.
    Lest my criticisms be interpreted as insufficient appreciation, let me say I agree wholeheartedly with your statement above.

  7. #27
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Just some info I found on Pikesville Rye.

    Pikesville was a product of Standard Distillers,
    a Maryland company, located in the Baltimore area.
    Standard was a rectifier who bought their distilled
    rye from the Majestic Distillery in Lansdowne, Md.
    The last batch of Maryland rye was probably distilled in the mid 1970's as Pikesville was last bottled in 1980.
    I was told that although a four year old rye, most of
    the later bottlings were more likely to be 7 year old whiskeys. This was due
    to the inability to move the product.
    After purchasing the rye, Standard aged all the
    whiskey in their own warehouses and while I am not sure of the proofs I know some was bonded 100 proof.Standard in
    the early 80's had Heaven Hill distill their whiskey and it was sold as Maryland Style Rye.Eventually Standard sold the label,recipe, and distillery name to Heaven Hill.

    It is now an 80 proof version known as Pikesville Supreme.
    As for the mashbill, it may now not be same as the original,
    but back in the early 80's it surely was, as HH
    distilled the product for Standard.

    There probably is some old Maryland rye still around.
    I seem to remember somebody on SB.com saying they had a bottle. I am also attempting to get one of those last bottlings of old Maryland Straight Rye.

  8. #28
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    A group of us this weekend at a gathering near Cincinnati discussed this subject at some length. I will try to recount what I remember from that discussion.

    Most of the Maryland/Potomac distillers seem to have ceased production around the time of the Bottled-in-Bond and Pure Food and Drug Acts, leading to the conclusion that they were not, for the most part, genuine straight whiskies but what they would have called rectified or compound whiskey and what we would call American blends. They probably resembled Canadian whiskies.

    In contrast, the Monongahela tradition was a straight whiskey tradition. It would have been the first rye whiskey to use a significant amount of maize and may have been where regular aging in new charred oak barrels originated. This theory (and it is little more than a theory) says that Monongahela rye was a precursor to bourbon, the only real difference being the proportion of rye to corn. Since Monongahela whiskey was being sold to people who were accustomed to rye whiskey, they wanted the rye flavor to dominate. Since bourbon's customers were accustomed to cognac, something sweeter and less spicy was desired, plus the fact that corn simply grew better than rye in Kentucky, so a predominantly corn whiskey was the natual product.

  9. #29
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    Recently my wife and I were visiting a friend in Baltimore. We drove with him in a 60 mile radius east of the city because he had to visit some business accounts and I went for the ride. The accounts were in strip malls or small towns and if I saw a liquor store nearby I dropped in. I talked to the owners to see what rye consciousness they had and what brands they carried. Most carried no straight rye. The ones that did carried one or two brands, not Pikesville but rather Jim Beam or Wild Turkey's rye. I did this in Baltimore, too. I found Pikesville only once, at the large market downtown in one of the two liquor stores on-site, it was Heaven Hill's of course.

    I found with one or two exceptions that no one knew what straight rye really was much less that Maryland was once a centre of production and not just that but famed for fine whiskeys in the U.S. and beyond. The history is just too far back, society is too fast moving and changing, people forget... A nice lady at Burke's, a downtown Baltimore bar and restaurant operating since the 1930's, recalled vending some of the Maryland rye brands when still made, especially Pikesville. She said few people ask for rye whiskey today, and the people who drank it in the old days switched to Canadian whisky or bourbon with few complaints. She looked at me bemusedly, as if thinking, "interesting that he knows about all this, it really is a shame we don't make rye in Maryland any more, wish I could help him more..".

    Some liquor stores in the rural areas (maybe parts of Eastern Shore) may still have have a bottle or two of 1970's-era Maryland rye, maybe in the basement somewhere covered in dust, but finding such artifacts is another story!

    Pikesville as produced by Heaven Hill is good and I'm sure is close to the original formula - the label promises as much anyway. I believe some of the old Maryland names (if not Pikesville) would have been aged longer than 4 years, however. Recently I tried HH's Rittenhouse which is excellent too, grainy like Pikesville but a little different and with more barrel character. It seems somewhat older but carries no age statement. Both make fine Manhattans, I should add. I heard there is a 10 year old version of Rittenhouse available. It may approach the taste of some of the old, well-aged Pennsylvania or Maryland whiskeys. Probably Sazerac 18 year old rye does, too.

    I have inferred from various sources that there were 3 styles of rye: a fruity Maryland/Potomac version; the Monongahela version, which may be represented today by Clermont's Old Overholt; and a separate Kentucky version because rye whiskey always was distilled in Kentucky. Jim Beam's and Wild Turkey's ryes would I think represent the Kentucky tradition. HH's Pikesville and Rittenhouse probably represent what some whiskey was like in Maryland and Pennsylvania, respectively (except Pikesville does not taste fruity: Mike Veach has reported citrus-like flavors in some bourbon of 60 years ago and maybe that was true also for some (but not all?) Maryland rye of that era). And of course there are the 10 or so other ryes that can be bought, each of which likely represents an original type or variant.

    The story of rye in the mid-Atlantic region is no different unfortunately from so many products now departed from their original area of production due to changing times and tastes.

    That is why it is especially noteworthy bourbon survived and prospered in Kentucky. To be sure there has been signficant consolidation and closure but enough bourbon distillation survives to constitute a vibrant industry. Other States made good, certainly distinctive, whiskeys but a confluence of circumstances resulted in their seemingly final disappearance. This did not happen in Kentucky and it is a welcome exception. How many other areas have well-established industries (in liquor or anything) still going strong after 100 years and more? Not too many!

    Gary


  10. #30
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    Re: Is there more than one style of straight rye??

    According to Jackson's World Guide to Whiskey (1987), who cites in turn no less an authority than H.L. Mencken, many of the "widely advertised" brands of whiskey in Maryland were blends. But it is no less true that many distilleries survived into the 1950's-1970's (when the survivors all closed) making straight rye whiskey. The Jackson book or pictures of miniature collections posted on the Internet show or discuss for example brands such as K&L Maryland Straight Rye (1960's), Green Spring Valley Club Straight Rye (somewhat earlier), Baltimore Pure Rye (the 'rye-e' rye, to mid-1950's), Mount Vernon Straight Rye (ditto to mid-1950's and then became a blend), Ruxton Rye, Cockeysville Rye, Sherbrook Straight Rye and others. Some makers seemed to specialise in all straight whiskey combinations, Records & Goldsborough, a large concern in Maryland until the 1950's, was one such. So while many of the big names were blends (e.g. Hunter, Pride of Baltimore, Calvert - blends popularity occurred in other whiskey regions too), straight whiskey was a continuing tradition in Maryland until Pikesville closed in the 1970's. See also www.pre-pro.com which contains lovely pictures of old glasses at least a hundred of which advertise straight or pure rye whiskey. Many of these houses (written descriptions of which are given in many cases) lasted to 1920 and some opened after Volstead ended. The names I mentioned above (just a sampling from my reading over the years) all date from about 1930's- circa 1970.

    Gary

 

 

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