Old Potrero

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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:14 am

Fritz Maytag who owns Anchor Distilling is also the head of the very successful brewery, Anchor Brewery. The distilling operation has been a sideline, or off-shoot, to the latter. He sold the whiskey young because he felt it was sold that way in the 18th and 19th centuries, he had historical circumstances in mind, not commercial, I am quite sure (because the profits of the brewery could easily have supported the distilling venture in its early phase). I am not sure about the 19th century, not the middle and later parts of it ayway, but he is right I think about the earlier part and the 1700's. But surely he could have reserved enough spirit to age and sell as four year old whiskey if not much older by now (the distillery is about a dozen years old). So I think it was more a purist impulse than anything driven by commercial considerations. Still, from what we are reading here it sounds like older spirit is making its way to the consumer. I respect the interest to make a historical product (the Michter's Quarter Whiskey in the 1980's was something similar) but from the 1840's on at least, both in rye and bourbon country, whiskey aged to a deep red or brown colour, and showing maturation characteristics in flavor associated with such aging, became the norm for straight whiskey (quality straight whiskey). I hope Anchor Distilling will ultimately release 4 year old whiskey and older-aged whiskey to reflect this part of tradition, too.

Gary
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Unread postby Strayed » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:06 am

TNbourbon wrote:... I suspect the sheer cost of starting even a small whiskey distillery in this day and age forced him to sell some of his product prematurely. Pretty tough to have, say, four years of production without a day of income, even if you're already a rich man. That's why there are so few 'new' whiskey distilleries.

Somewhere in this wonderful collection of American whiskey knowledge is a post by Linn Bunghole in which he lays out a plan that would completely eliminate all that, providing both cash flow and interesting new products right from the get-go.

I'm late for work, so I don't have time to search and find it, but it's worth looking for.
=JOHN= (the "Jaye" part of "L & J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:50 am

Gary, I'm not a businessman, and so my assumptions about them are just that -- assumptions. But, in the case of Maytag, I was (and am) assuming that he likely set up his whiskey-distilling operation independent (at least financially) of his brewery for the simple reason that its potential failure could not then impact the existing successful business. If so, then his other successful enterprise(s) would have no bearing on whether or not income from Old Potrero was desireable early on.
I've read some of Maytag's statements about his views of historical rye whiskey, and have found them mostly unconvincing, as he seldom provides any evidence beyond his stated convictions -- including that, for example, his 'authentic' whiskey should be from 100% rye grain. Gary, you're as avid a whiskey historian as any here, and you've shared with us many times the knowledge that there are/were many different and distinct recipes/taste profiles. For Maytag to claim his must be 100% rye to be 'authentic' seems to me more like marketing than historical accuracy. So, too, then, I have a hard time truly buying into his claim that he sold his rye young because that was the way it used to be. Again, I figured that as marketing. If he truly believed it, why would he now issue whiskey apparently aged longer? Would that not belie his previous convictions? Was rye/whiskey once sold young? Almost certainly. MUST is have been sold young? Almost certainly not.
The prices for Old Potrero recently dropped somewhat, despite the appeareance that now he's putting out a better, older product. That leads me to conclude: 1) Maytag isn't really committed to a very young, unaged product; and 2) his early bottlings were to raise cash. Now that he has an income flow, he can be choosier about what he releases, and doesn't need to make so much money on it.
On the other hand, I've been wrong before -- probably even already today! :?
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Unread postby KOJI » Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:34 am

It may be 9:00 in the morning for you guys but its almost 12:00 pm for me so I just poured some OP Rye from the 2002 bottle,distilled12/09/98.
It says 889 bottles was made and bottled at 124.2 proof.I am comparing it tothe 2002 version of the Sazerac 18Y 90 proof ,at this time I have zero customers at my bar so this is a good time to have fun.The OP for a 3Year old is a little lighter in color compared to the 18 year old but the aroma and after taste is stronger than the Sazerac.I met the people from Anchor at this years Whisky Fest in Japan and they told me they were now exporting to Japan through Mitsui, its a good thing we can get more good rye from the US. As for the Single Malt Spirit it could be better if it was aged a little more.

Koji :drunken:
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:06 pm

Just on Tim's points, you may be right. Although clearly whiskey at around 1800 wasn't aged or if it was, not for very long, contemporary sources (M'Harry, the George Washington letters I have read) seem to make that clear. I think Maytag has figured well, I've had my young whiskey out in the market for a while, it didn't (I think) go gangbusters, so I'll try another tack, we'll lower the proof and age it a bit more. But I think his real business focus has always been brewing, the liquor side is more of a hobby, and I think too he was able because of his wealth to support it if that was necessary. Although maybe it pays its way or makes money now, I don't know. He is a legend in the brewing business and I always hoped he'd hit it big with whiskey too, what a double play that would be, but to so I think he needs to sell the product at an older age and lower proof. Maybe that will happen now.

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