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Anchor Brewing: Distilled

2012 and 2013
2012 and 2013
Niko DeMordaunt

As Anchor Brewing has grown and grown, with their new brewery, Zymaster series, and IPA, so too has another part of Anchor - the distillery.

Anchor Distilling has been around for a while, and is perhaps most well known for their Junipero gin. There hasn't been much high publicity crossover between the brewing and distilling sides of Anchor, but the release of a new whiskey changes that.

It's a white whiskey, distilled from the 2012 batch of Anchor Brewing's Christmas Ale. Called "White Christmas," the spirit was released in limited quantity this past holiday season.

“At the end of the holiday season last year, we found ourselves with remaining stock of 2012 Christmas Ale, so rather than dumping it down the drain, we decided to try distilling it,” said David King, president of Anchor Distilling.

While disconcerting to read that Anchor even thought about wasting Christmas Ale, the idea to distill the beer turned out brilliantly. The whiskey has an incredibly strong smell and taste - no one would confuse it with the beer. The first sip is strong, like any good whiskey, but the aftertaste brought an evergreen flavor similar to the beer itself.

I had a 2012 Christmas Ale in my beer cellar, so I was fortunate enough to compare the source beer to the whiskey. The nose had dissipated a little, but the evergreen aftertaste was still present. While the beer had lost some of its pungency, the silky quality of the ale had only increased.

As Anchor Distilling has announced, White Christmas will become an annual tradition. I love this idea since, as the Christmas Ale changes year to year, so will White Christmas.

So, I drank the 2013 Anchor Christmas next to the 2012 to get a sense of what White Christmas will be next year.

In general, the 2013 had a much stronger, richer smell. Of course this could be due to 2012 having aged for a year. The beers were quite similar, but the dark, rich taste that permeated the 2013 should pay great dividends for White Christmas come next year.

I'll also be interested to see the 2014 Christmas Ale, and if the knowledge that it will become White Christmas, will change the variations in the recipe at all.

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