GSN Review: Anchor Distilling Christmas Spirit 2015

anchor-christmasSan Francisco’s Anchor Distilling Company and Anchor Brewing have teamed up for the third time to release their Christmas Spirit, available November 30 until December 31, 2015. The Christmas Spirit is a result of distilling Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale, a dark-spiced ale from the previous year, into a winter-spiced, white spirit that’s ideal for mixing in holiday cocktails and punches. The secret recipe for Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale, available from mid-November to mid-January, changes annually, resulting in a uniquely distinctive Christmas Spirit, which is signified by the different hand-drawn tree on the label each year.

“Every year since 1975, the unveiling of Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale is a major celebratory event. With the Christmas Spirit, we’ve now created a similar tradition on the Anchor Distillery side that captures the same joy and excitement of the holidays,” says Bruce Joseph, Head Distiller for Anchor Distilling. “Part of the fun in creating the Christmas Spirit is that we’re working with a different ale each season—tasting it is akin to the surprise one gets when unwrapping a gift at Christmastime.”

Christmas Spirit 2015 (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Smokey like a mezcal, but also the “white dog” funk of moonshine.  Very unusual.
Taste: A hint of pine resin, sweet barley candy, mint, bitter hops, and a slight peppery burn.
Finish: Medium long, with a lot of dry spice on the back palate.  A lasting impression of rough and rustic sensibility permeates the overall effect.  At the very tail end, there is a curious vanilla caramel note.
Overall: One of a kind.  Interesting, but perhaps not a spirit to drink straight.  Try it in the cocktail below, or barring that use it in place of a joven tequila or mezcal cocktail.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Anchor Distilling

Brian Means, Bar Manager at Hotel Zelos’ Dirty Habit in San Francisco, has crafted the following festive cocktails showcasing this year’s edition.

Snow Bunny
1.5 oz Anchor Christmas Spirit
.50 oz The Kings Ginger Liqueur
.50 oz lemon juice
.50 oz honey syrup
.50 oz egg white
2 oz Anchor Christmas Ale 2015
3 dashes of Dale DeGroff’s Allspice bitters

Combine all ingredients except for the ale and bitters into a cocktail shaker and dry shake without ice, then add ice and re-shake. Double strain into a fizz glass and top with the ale. Garnish with shaved nutmeg and 3 drops of bitters.

Rudolph’s Nose
1.5 oz Anchor Christmas Spirit
.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino
.50 oz Chateau Montifaud Pineau de Charentes Rosso
.75 oz Gran Classico bitters
Luxardo cherry garnish

Combine all ingredients and stir with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

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