Fritz Maytag, by purchasing the Anchor Brewing
and re-launching it as a small scale, quality conscious brand, is considered by many to have launched the craft brewing movement in America.
In 1993, his launch of Anchor Distilling
, with its Junipero Gin and Old Potrero Whiskeys, pre-dated the current craft or micro-distillery trends and enthusiasm for Rye Whiskey by several years.
But, neither the beers nor the distilled spirits have taken an easy path.
The whiskeys Anchor Distilling chooses to make are made from 100% malted rye. An unusual choice by any stretch of the imagination. Rye is notoriously difficult to malt without at least some barley to get the enzymatic reactions necessary for fermenting started.
Then there is the choice to make whiskeys according to unusual historically based models.
Anchor ages its whiskeys for very short periods before releasing them. The 18th Century Whiskey is aged in toasted, rather than charred, oak, so cannot be labeled "Straight Rye Whiskey".
Some have said the Anchor Whiskeys are the best, and most interesting, under aged spirits on the market. All have hoped that Anchor Distilling would release a 10 or 20 year old version of their whiskeys.
In 2006 spirits enthusiasts finally got to taste an aged Anchor Distilling whiskey. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Anchor released its Old Potrero Single Malt Hotaling’s Whiskey. Drawn from the very first batch of 100% Malted Rye Anchor Whiskey, and aged over 11 years in once used, charred, oak barrels, it is an unusual pour. Some have said it has more in common with Scotch whiskey than American whiskey. In production methods and the climate in which it is aged, I agree. On a practical level, it tastes like no other whiskey I have tried, and certainly not a Scotch.
Given the cost, and, the fact that it is unclear whether Anchor will ever release another aged whiskey, some might say mixing is a bad choice. They would probably say, the spirit should properly be enjoyed on its own, in all its quirky glory.
As a cocktail enthusiast, however, the Hotaling’s has haunted me since I first tried it. It seemed like it would, in fact, make a very interesting, if pricey, mixing whiskey. The question was, how best to feature its characteristics.
While the predictable Old-Fashioned or Sazerac Cocktail would be the easiest route, I thought I’d first give it a try in another San Francisco creation, Jonny Raglin’s Bob Tailed Nag.Bob Tailed Nag
2 oz Rye Whiskey (2 oz Anchor Hotaling’s Whiskey)
½ ounce Cocchi Barolo Chinato
3 dashes of Mint Bitters (3 dashes The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Lemon TwistStir well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
(I’ve made this cocktail before, and found I preferred Aromatic Bitters to the mint bitters called for in the recipe.)
This was OK; but, I found there was a missing note in the cocktail compared to when I’d made it with straight rye whiskey.
When I've tried the Hotaling's on its own and when I was tasting the Bob Tailed Nag, its flavor reminded me a bit of a Cognac, so for my second try, I decided to replace the Cognac in a classic cocktail with the Hotaling’s.Metropole Cocktail
1 ½ oz Cognac (1 ½ oz Anchor Hotaling’s Whiskey)
1 ½ oz Dry Vermouth (1 ½ oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
1 Dash Peychaud Bitters
1 Dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
Stir well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.
The Metropole is a cocktail I was only recently made aware of via a Splificator (David Wondrich) post here on the eGullet forums.
Mmmm… Yes, now here is a cocktail, and a use of the Hotaling's, that I can hang with. The fruity, wine-like, flavor and scent of the Hotaling’s Whiskey work perfectly in this dry, complex cocktail.
Edited by eje, 12 February 2007 - 05:49 PM.