Anchor Distilling Hophead Hop Vodka Review
on 26/01/13 at 12:50 pmSpirits
This past year was another big year for the vodka category. Not only were total volumes of vodka up, but so were the number of offerings in the space. Much of the vodka expansion has been a result of renewed interest in flavored vodka, with cake, caramel, and other confection flavorings leading the charge. The overall growth can also be attributed to an expansion of spirits that are labeled “vodka” but don’t necessarily conform to the TTB’s definition of vodka. The definition of vodka by the TTB is a spirit “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color and containing, when bottled, less than four grams of natural flavor components consisting of esters, acids, and higher alcohols per 100 liters at 100° proof, and bottled at not less than 80° proof,” which dates all the way back to 1968 and has seen little revision or redefinition since then.
Jack Daniels’ recent Unaged Rye is a perfect example of the TTB mislabeling something as a ‘neutral spirit’ or vodka when it clearly has distinct character and flavor. Karlsson’s Gold Vodka is another example of a spirit with clear character and flavor (it tastes like chocolate and black pepper) and yet it’s still considered a vodka. The clearly outdated definition of vodka by the TTB isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s made room for some interesting releases which probably would have gotten lost in liquor stores filed awkwardly as “other.” Anchor Distilling’s Hophead Vodka is another example of a spirit which clearly doesn’t meet the TTB’s neutral spirit definition, but manages to be labeled a vodka.
Hops are not a new element in spirits, they’ve been a part of some of our favorite offerings, including Charbay’s Double and Twisted White Whiskey and Schramm’s Canadian Gin. Hops are also a frequently used ingredient in beer. The problem with hops is that they are a rather volatile botanical with the capability of being extremely bitter and harsh. Distilling hops only compounds the volatility. Anchor Distilling, sister company to the legendary Anchor Brewing, has some pretty extensive experience dealing with hops in beer, and so they’ve brought this experience over to produce one of the first hops vodkas on the market.