I have long been a fan of Anchor Steam Beer… I think for a few decades I actually could boast having annually collected a bottle of their Christmas Ale – Always delicious with all the correct reminders of Christmas. Like most breweries, Anchor has a distilling operation, oddly enough called Anchor Distilling. I have long enjoyed their Junipero Gin and recently came across their Old Potrero Whiskey, specifically the 18th Century Style Whiskey. I must say that I am very impressed.
Anchor makes three versions of their Whiskey: Old Potrero Straight Rye, Old Potrero Hotaling’s Single Malt Whiskey and the 18th Century Style.
According to the sales literature, the 18th Century Style Whiskey is Anchor’s attempt at recreating “the original whiskey of America.” The spirit was distilled in a small copper pot still at Anchor’s distillery on Potrero Hill (hence the name) from a 100% rye malt mash. The spirit is then gently aged in a mix of old and new oak barrels that have been lightly toasted over oak chip fires as opposed to heavily charred barrels a la Bourbon. The result is a lightly-colored, delicately sweet whiskey that retains much of the malt-quality of the mash. I found this an ideal sipping whiskey that opened nicely with the addition of a splash of spring water.
Anchor’s promotional materials speak to the “authenticity” of this colonial whiskey. The use of 100% malted rye, a small copper pot still and lightly toasted oak aging all add up to a very authentic experience. I actually think the whiskey is probably smoother than what our ancestors were drinking, but that’s just a hunch…
Based on the quality of the 18th Century Style, I will be searching out the other varieties. I sense, though that the limited, small batch production may make them hard to find in the main stream.