A Pioneer In Small Production Spirits, Bringing Pot-Distilled Whiskey Back To The United States
A Craft Beer Pioneer Sets His Sights On Spirits
The original Anchor Distilling Company was established in 1993 by Fritz Maytag, the same beverage visionary who sparked the craft beer movement with his purchase of Anchor Brewing in 1965. Maytag had rescued the struggling brewery and its iconic steam beer, and after several decades of exclusively producing beer, Maytag saw an opportunity to expand into the distillation of spirits.
The Return Of Pot-Distilled Whiskey To The United States
Fritz’s vision of a rye whiskey revival was fueled by the bold realization that there were no pot-distilled whiskeys being made legally in America at the time. Finding inspiration in the rye whiskeys of America’s past and the great single malt whiskeys of Scotland, Fritz gathered a small team to begin top secret research and experimentation in the distillery. The first whiskey went into barrel in 1994, and the distillery soon began producing three rye whiskeys under Fritz’s guidance, all pot-distilled spirit from a mash of 100% malted rye. Over time, the range of spirits expanded into other categories, with the addition of Junípero Gin and Genevieve genever. The creation of Junípero was particularly significant, as it effectively started the movement towards high-end craft gin in the United States.
A New Chapter As Hotaling & Co.
In 2017, Anchor Brewing Company was sold, and although Anchor Distilling Company was not part of the sale, it relinquished the rights to use the “Anchor” trademark. In early 2018, the new name of “Hotaling & Co.” was announced, a reference to one of Anchor Distilling’s most beloved small batch whiskeys and to the San Francisco legend A.P. Hotaling, who came out West during the Gold Rush and quickly became one of the most reputable spirits dealers in the country. Born in 1828, Hotaling moved from New York to California in 1852, where he found his calling in San Francisco as a purveyor of fine whiskeys and proceeded to build the largest liquor wholesaler in the West. In San Francisco drinks culture, Hotaling’s name became immortalized when his whiskey warehouse on Jackson Street survived the 1906 San Francisco earth- quake and fire. Today, the Hotaling name remains a part of San Francisco drinking culture as the distillery celebrates 25 years of production, a proud tradition that will continue into the future.
Old Potrero is an attempt to recreate the original whiskey of America, and marks the return of pot-distilled whiskey in the United States. It’s distilled in a small copper pot still at the Hotaling & Co. Distillery on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill from a mash of 100% rye malt, with rye being the grain of choice for America’s first distillers.
This straight rye whiskey was aged in new handmade charred oak barrels. In traditional barrel making, the cooper heats the staves over a fire of oak chips, allowing them to be bent and formed into a barrel. During this process, the inside of the barrel becomes lightly toasted. By the early 19th century, coopers had learned that if they allowed the heat to continue, the inside of the barrel would burst into flames and become charred. Handmade oak barrels—charred in this traditional manner—impart a rich color and unique character to this rye whiskey. 48.5% ABV
Handmade oak barrels, lightly toasted in the traditional manner, impart a wonderfully subtle flavor. In the 18th century, barrels were made by heating the staves over a fire of oak chips, allowing them to be bent and formed into a barrel shape. During this process, the inside of the barrel would become toasted, but not charred. For aging, several uncharred oak barrels, both new and used, to achieve the balanced complexity that complements this whiskey’s traditional heritage. 51.2% ABV
- Gold Medal | San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2006
The distillers at Hotaling & Co. present this whiskey in commemoration of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and in celebration of the city’s remarkable rebirth. In 1906, earthquake, fire and dynamite ravaged San Francisco, claiming 28,188 buildings and an incalculable number of lives. After the disaster, several clergymen asserted that the catastrophe had been divine retribution, visited upon the City by the Bay for its sinful ways. Thanks in part to the pluck and ingenuity of its staff, however, A.P. Hotaling & Co.’s Jackson Street whiskey warehouse survived. And so, “while millions of dollars worth of normally non-inflammable material was reduced to ashes,” the Argonaut observed, thousands of “barrels of highly inflammable whisky were preserved intact in the heart of the tremendous holocaust.” This unusual whiskey has been aged for 11 years in once-used, charred oak whiskey barrels. Many of the finest Scottish “single malts” are aged in the same manner. The method of producing this Hotaling’s Whiskey is identical to the other Old Potrero whiskeys—it is a pot-distilled spirit from a mash of 100% malted rye. Only the barrel aging is different. 50% ABV
The release of special cask finishes in 2017 marked the first new innovations of Old Potrero Rye Whiskey since 2006. Old Potrero Straight Malt Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels is double distilled in copper pot stills from a 100% malted rye mash bill. It is matured for at least three years in fine grain new American white oak barrels, and then finished for one year in once used port barrels. The result is a deep reddish amber liquid with sweet and rich port notes balanced by the spiciness of rye whiskey. 57.3% ABV
- Double Gold Medal | New York World Wine & Spirits Competition 2017
- Best in Show American Whiskey | New York World Wine & Spirits Competition 2017
- Best in Show American Craft Whiskey | New York World Wine & Spirits Competition 2017
America’s original craft gin, is made by hand in a traditional London dry gin-style, utilizing a dozen botanicals in their natural state in a small copper pot still at the small distillery in San Francisco. Like all modern gins, Junípero is juniper forward, but unlike other gins it is 98.6 proof and not chill-filtered, allowing the botanicals to marry gently and the gin to shine through in cocktails. The result is a distinctive, intriguing complexity in Junípero Gin that is light, crisp and clean, combining a deep and mysterious spiciness with subtle delicacy. 49.3% ABV
- Appearance: Clear
- Aroma: Strong juniper core. Crisp and clean with bright citrus notes and herbal complexity
- Palate: Aggressive, big structure with juniper at the forefront that opens up and reveals its full complexity in the finish with notes of lemon peel, cardamom and lemongrass
- Best American London Dry Gin | World Gin Awards 2017
- Gold Medal | WSWA Tasting Competition 2016
- 94 Points, Finalist | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016
- "Smooth, clean and very dry with assertive, classic flavors of juniper and citrus: a martini with one eyebrow raised." - Eric Asimov, New York Times
- "Arguably America's greatest gin." - Oliver Schwaner-Albright, Departures Magazine
In the late 19th century, technological advances enabled distillers to produce neutral spirits at very high proofs. When re-distilled with complex blends of juniper berries and other natural botanicals, these neutral spirits were transformed into what is known today as modern “distilled dry gin.” The earliest gins, however—which came to be known as “genever” (or “Geneva gin,” or “Hollands gin,” or “Schiedam-style gin”)—were a very different product. To be sure, juniper berries and other botanicals are used in both styles, but 17th century “genever” gin was distilled in primitive pot stills from a grain mash.
Genevieve is an interpretation of this ancient and mysterious gin style. A grain mash of wheat, barley, and rye malts is distilled in a traditional copper pot still with the same botanicals used in Junípero Gin. Many early cocktail recipes that call for “gin” actually mean “genever gin,” which has a strong flavor profile because it is pot-distilled from a grain mash. The most common way to consume genever has always been straight: either chilled, over ice, or, best of all, shaken with ice. A slight haze may form, which is normal for this all-natural product. 47.3% ABV
Produced in the traditional method using copper pot stills, Genevieve gin is a malt based spirit distilled with botanicals. This expression of genever (dutch for juniper) style gin is aged for two years and nine months in a once used fine grain Old Potrero Straight Rye whiskey barrel. The barrel aging process imparts a subtle golden color to the gin and rounds out the strong flavor profile of the malted grain mash bill, which is equal parts wheat, barley, and rye. It is distilled with the same 12 botanicals used to produce Junípero gin such as juniper, angelica root, and citrus peels and is bottled by hand. 47.3% ABV
- 94 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2018
- 93 Points, Gold Medal | Beverage Testing Institute 2018
In 2011, after a great deal of experimentation, our distillers developed Hophead Vodka using small copper pot stills. Distilled with two types of dried hops from Washington State’s Yakima Valley, HOPHEAD is vodka built on flavor, but is not a “flavored” vodka. This premium craft vodka captures the fresh, romantic character of hops without the typical bitterness. 45% ABV
- Best Spirit of 2013 | 7x7 2013
- 95 Points, Chairman's Trophy | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2013
Old Tom Gin, like its historical predecessors, is pot-distilled with juniper berries and other botanicals, sweeter than modern London dry gin, and bottled unfiltered. But unlike any other Old Tom, its sweetness comes from a blend of two traditional botanicals, star anise and licorice root, and one untraditional one: stevia. While known for centuries by natives of Paraguay, where we source our stevia, we believe that this is stevia’s first use in gin, creating a sophisticated silky-sweet complexity that makes Hotaling Old Tom perfect for mixing cocktails both old and new.
In 1891, Bret Harte called San Francisco “a dusty drive with a cocktail at the end of it.” If that cocktail had been a Tom Collins or a Martinez, it would have been made with Old Tom, a sweet pot-distilled gin enjoyed in San Francisco from the Gold Rush to Prohibition. Old Tom’s namesake may have been Thomas Chamberlain, longtime partner with Benjamin George Hodges in Hodges’s Distillery, Millbank, London. In 1823, they were credited for making “Old Tom, sir-the best Gin-by the Gods denominated blue-ruin, but by men below, Hodges’s max.”
Our rakish tomcat is a salute to Capt. Dudley Bradstreet and the vending machine he created in 18th-century London for his illicit gin. “I...purchased... the Sign of a Cat, and had it nailed to a Street Window; I then caused a Leaden Pipe...to be placed under the Paw of the Cat; the End that was within had a Funnel.” Customers put money in the cat’s mouth and said, “‘Puss, give me two Pennyworth of Gin.’ I...put my Mouth to the Tube, and bid them receive it from the Pipe under her Paw, and then...poured it into the Funnel.” 45% ABV
- Silver Medal | WSWA Tasting Competition 2015