Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Saw Fritz Maytag's Stills

The 2009 American Distilling Institute conference was held in Alameda, CA last month, at St. George Spirits (more on the conference in a future post). The folks at St. George were wonderful hosts, and provided a great location for our conference.

we're distributing in Northern California now, I figured it made sense to go to the conference and then spend some time with our distributor's folks in San Francisco.

In addition to the public tasting event for craft spirits, which was a terrific addition to the ADI conference, one of the highlights was getting to tour Anchor Distilling.

Really? A Tour of Anchor?
The first time I saw Fritz Maytag speak a few years ago at one of these conferences, I found it kind of comical. I have no doubt he is a wonderful man, and I'm sure we'd get along famously if we actually spoke face to face, but he was asked to speak to a group of new distillers and he revealed virtually nothing about anything he does at Anchor. I found myself wondering why he was speaking to us, given that he felt everything was a secret and wouldn't really tell us anything about what he was doing, or about his stills, etc.

So when I heard we'd have a chance to not only visit his brewery facility, but also see the stills, I figured I had better be there. Funny enough, when he spoke to the group this time, Mr. Maytag admitted that historically he didn't even let all of his staff see the stills, let alone others in the industry or (gasp) members of the public. So at least he recognized he was "keeping everything close to the vest."

Here are a few photos from the tour - it was a lot of fun. I only wish we could have tasted some of their spirits, rather than only the beers. They make some great beers, of course, many of which I can't get in Chicago, but they also make some spirits I can't get (e.g., the Hotalings).

Pictures are:
  • Mr. Maytag and his head distiller making a presentation in front of their three stills - one for genever, one for gin, one for whiskey (left to right)
  • The hops room
  • The tasting room, where the rest of our group was hanging out while waiting for their tour group
  • The Anchor uniform, which I loved. I think we should have a distillery uniform or something. So far, Derek's not going for it.

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