Anchor Distilling in San Francisco's Potrero Hill is a pretty small operation—the copper stills they use to make Old Potrero Whiskey, Junipero Gin, and Genevieve could probably all fit in my living room.
They've recently released a new, unusual product—a vodka distilled with two types of Yakima Valley hops.
Vodka's not usually my go-to spirit, but this isn't like any vodka you've tried before. David King, the president of Anchor Distilling (who was one of the creative masterminds behind No. 3 London Dry Gin and The King's Ginger Liqueur, another favorite of ours) poured us a sample at the distillery. It's important to note that Hophead is not a 'hop-flavored vodka', he notes: "It's a distillation. If it were juniper flavored, it would be considered a gin." Instead, this new product is somewhere in between: a floral, aromatic spirit with rich texture and a wide range of hoppy flavors—hints of orange peel and pine, earthy rosemary and anise.
At home, it was happy stirred with ice (Hophead clouds when chilled since it wasn't previously chill-filtered), remarkably herbal as if there were vermouth already in it. It makes a killer highball with tonic, a little drier than the gin version. (We especially loved it mixed with Jack Rudy tonic and a little bit of lime.) Next we'll try it in a Bloody Mary—perhaps a light tomato-water version with a rosemary garnish.
Hophead is rolling out nationwide this month, and will sell for around $30 a bottle.
Sample provided for review consideration.