Straight rye whiskey
The story of a single malt snob in San Diego.
This story began in februari 2022. Or maybe even earlier, but that might have been the beginning of another story, that led to this story. Which is, in itself, a whole other story. That is why we best begin in februari I guess.
I was lucky enough to be selected to give a presentation on a content marketing summit in San Diego. For me, that is on the other side of the globe! And I had booked a hotel, so I was looking to see if there was anything I could find to visit after the workdays at the event. Being me, I googled for whisky.
To my surprise, the google algorithm translated my query for me and turned it into distillery. With success. On the same street as my hotel, but just 3 blocks away, It found a "trendy gastropub at a distillery". I did not need to look further. I was going there when I was able to!
On their website I noted that I could get a tour at the distillery. Double joy! I was excited and decided to email them to see if I could book such a tour. I got a friendly reply they normally only do tours for small groups, but if I just announced myself, they would see what they could do for me. They would hook me up with "Woody" who could tell me everything. Then I had to email them my summit was rescheduled, and if it was possible to visit them at the end of May.
Again a quick, friendly reply that already made me feel welcome and I was really looking forward to visit this place!
And then there I was, walking on J-street in San Diego, looking forward for a tour and a drink. And after waiting for a few traffic lights and crossing a couple of streets, I noticed the sign and knew I was there.
When I walked in, I think I was early. It was around 16:30. (That is 04:30 PM for my American friends.)
I got a warm welcome from a nice fellow standing behind the bar, who had to disappoint me then and there. Unfortunately there was no tour that day. My best chance was to return later that week. But he quickly offered me a drink. Smart thing to do, because a short walk on the sunny streets on San Diego with al those traffic lights to prolong that journey, makes you thirsty.
When I looked them up online back in februari, I learned that they had bourbon and rye that they distilled themselves. (And gin, and some more. But this is a blog about whisky, or whiskey, or even bourbon. Go find a gin blog if you're into that. )
So I asked Elliot (That was his name.) what he would recommend I'd try: The rye or the bourbon. He described them both to me and I chose the bourbon. While I was sipping my bourbon, I noticed something. More patrons showed up and ordered drinks. And of the first three patrons after me, two ordered a shot of rye. I became curious. Elliot must have noticed and offered me to try the rye.
This guy must have had a masters degree in sales or something, because he hit the right target audience, at the right time in the right context. After just a few sips I knew it: I had to get a bottle. (And a t-shirt. I mean: Look at that logo!)
I'm ending my story here. To be honest, it did not end there. I managed to visit this bar twice more during my stay. I really enjoyed the atmosphere there and even dragged my colleagues a long with me.
But I forgot to ask for a tour later that week. That might be a reason to return there, next to their awesome Bao Buns with pork belly.
And don't forget the rye. Because that bottle came home with me, safely wrapped in a t-shirt in my suitcase. Time for a review!
Now the beauty of rye whiskey, is that it can be pretty awesome at a young age. I do not have a lot of experience with rye, but (spoiler) I enjoyed this one! This is a bottle of batch 004, bottle 042, aged 4 years and bottled on the 7th of may, 2022. Yes, batch 004. This distillery is not that old. But already having a great rye. The special thing about this rye is its finish. It is aged for a minimum of two years on oak and then finished, or as they call it "naps", on cabernet barrels of their sister winery. (How awesome is that!)
I love the dark color of the bottle, that continues in the glass. A twirl of the glass leave a thick line with medium tears.
On the nose: Apple pie, fudge, vanilla, salt, plums, spices and oak.
Taste: Spirit at first, after that really smooth. Hints of ripe fruits like plums, nectarines and apricots. Bitter hints of chocolate, coffee and leather and a small hint of honey and hay.
Finish: Shorter than I would like, but very fruity. It leaves me warm in a nice way, with notes of nutmeg, citrus and a long lasting caramel.
If I'm ever able to visit San Diego again, I'm going to get another bottle of this rye. And maybe even get to visit the distillery this time!
As for whom this may concern: Give Elliot a raise! That guy is a hero!
Elliot, if you read this: Thank you for your warm welcome, your excellent story about the place, the bourbon and the rye.
A special thanks goes to my colleagues Marlies and Wouter, who had to join me for drinks and dinner. Twice.