Monday, June 2, 2014

Distilled Beer: White Christmas and Whipnose Whiskey

Since I'm such a big fan of Charbay, the hopped whiskey distilled from bottle ready beer, I thought I'd sample a few more distilled beers.

Anchor White Christmas, 45% abv ($30)

Anchor is, of course, a brewery and a distillery, so it would make sense for them to distill some beer.  This release for the 2013 holiday season was a distillation of their Christmas Ale.  It's not labeled as a whiskey, likely meaning that it was never stored in oak, just distilled and bottled.  It was initially released at $60, but K&L has it marked down to $30 (like any holiday gift that didn't sell).

The nose is very new makey with a touch of hops. The palate has mild new make notes with just a touch of hops.  The finish has peppermint and beer. This has some nice flavors but the pure new make qualities dominate the beer notes.  I'd pass on this one.

Whipnose Whiskey, Seven Stills Distillery, 47% abv. ($36 for a 375 ml bottle)

Whipnose Whiskey, from Seven Stills Distillery in San Francisco is a distillation of Pacific Brewing Laboratory's Whipnose IPA.  Seven Stills distilled the beer without adding anything to it.  The beer includes five malts (2-Row barley, Crystal 15, Rye Malt, Aromatic Malt (Amber 50) and Belgian Cara-Pils), four types of hops (Simcoe, Centenial, Cascade, Chinook) and maple sugar. Seven Stills then ages it for six months in 5 gallon new charred oak barrels.

The nose is full of beer; spicy and hoppy. It's very similar to Charbay's R5.  The palate is also beer heavy with a discernible hops; it even has a prickly mouthfeel as if it were slightly carbonated.  It definitely has a young taste to it, a bit raw and new makey, again not unlike Charbay's R5 and S whiskeys, but the strong hoppy taste mitigates some of that youth. The finish is exactly what you would expect after a good IPA, slightly bitter and a bit hoppy.

I'm not sure I've ever had a whiskey that tastes this much like beer.  If you're a fan of IPAs or of the Charbay whiskeys, I'd definitely recommend it.  It's got some rough edges, but it's bursting with flavor.

I really like the flavor of distilled beer.  I'm hoping we will see more an more of these on the market.


Justin said...

Interesting. If he is using sugar in the recipe, how can he still call it a whiskey?

sku said...

Just to be clear, the distiller is not adding sugar; it is an ingredient in the beer they are distilling.

Since this is not a straight whiskey, it is permitted to have a small amount of additives and flavorings, including sugar.

Unknown said...

I made the mistake of buying a bottle of White Christmas last year. Smelled like vomit to me. Didn't taste much better, frankly.

After tasting it and other similar spirits, I have concluded that hops do not belong in whiskey.