Tag Archives: seven stills

Seven Stills Czar Review

Seven Stills Czar – Distiller: Seven Stills. ABV: 47%. No age statement. Price: $30-40 (375ml).

The craft-beer-to-whiskey path is a well-traveled one. The esteemed Lew Bryson tells in the excellent Tasting Whiskey how he made the transition–a bit unexpectedly–when his employer, Beer Advocate magazine, abruptly transitioned to Malt Advocate magazine. (Soon it would be called Whisky Advocate, and Bryson would be managing editor there until 2015.) I made a similar transition myself some years back, with a detour in cocktail geekery along the way.

The good guys at Seven Stills did too. Tim and Clint were Bay Area college buddies obsessed with craft beer–as drinkers and brewers. They couldn’t help but wonder what some of their favorites would like taste like as whiskies. They got their hands on a little copper still and started experimenting. They haven’t stopped yet.

The Seven Stills Czar is part of the Seven Stills Series: whiskies based on craft beers the guys developed themselves, each of them devoted to one of San Francisco’s seven hills. (The Czar’s, fittingly enough, is Russian Hill.)

They started with their own Russian Imperial Stout–a favorite style of mine–and distill it twice. Now here’s the trick: the second distillation passes through a gin basket filled with hops.

Wait…a hopped stout…as a whiskey? How does that work?

Very well, it turns out.

The nose on the Seven Stills Czar has the roasted coffee and baking cocoa notes you might expect from the stout base. But the hops add a very distinct, very bright halo of pink grapefruit. Utterly intriguing–this is coming from a hopped-whiskey skeptic–and very appealing. Beyond it, hints of caramel, molasses.

The grapefruit turns to wild raspberry on the palate, bringing a distinct tang. Then chocolate lava cake, and a malty, beery core that’s familiar from other Seven Stills whiskies. The barrel influence comes through as cedar and cigar box.

The finish brings the end-of-the-beer-glass stout notes back, along with wild raspberry jam and burnt popcorn.

The Czar has officially taken me from hopped-whiskey skeptic to hopped-whiskey believer. I tried it on a Wednesday, and was back to the store on a Thursday to get a gift bottle for a friend.

Stay tuned for notes on two more tasty new Seven Stills releases coming soon.

Cheers, friends! – BO



Seven Stills Fluxuate Review

Distiller: Seven Stills. ABV: 47%. No age statement. Mash bill: two row, crystal, chocolate and black patent malt. $40 (375ml).

Seven Stills Fluxuate may be the ultimate hiking whiskey. 1) 357ml bottle for ease of carry, 2) distilled from coffee porter and brought to bottle strength in part with Flux Coffee to put a spring in your step, and 3) it’s very tasty.

Seven Stills founders Tim Obert and Clint Potter are craft beer geeks turned craft-whiskey-from-craft-beer geeks. Their insight seems obvious once you hear it. Since whiskey distillation starts with “distiller’s beer,” a  fermented mash of cooked grains, water, and yeast, why not distill whiskey from bottle-ready craft beer?

They’ve made whiskey from a Double IPA (Whipnose), from a chocolate stout (Chocasmoke), from a sour beer (Dogpatch), and this, the Fluxuate, from a coffee porter.

The Fluxuate starts with aromas of cocoa bean, vanilla, a pleasant yeasty/beery note that many Seven Stills whiskies share, and sure, coffee–but subdued and well-integrated. This is nowhere near flavored whiskey territory. The palate brightens these flavors, adding a little coffee acidity, then transitions to dry chocolate, cedar-y wood spice, and some orange rind on the finish.

Tim and Clint are talented distillers and great guys–and they’re just getting started. I’m not the only one predicting great things to come from them.

Keep ’em coming, gents! – BO

Seven Stills kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Seven Stills Chocasmoke Review

Distiller: Seven Stills. 47% ABV. Age: 6 months. Mashbill: undisclosed (from oatmeal stout with peated malt). Price: $35-45 for 375ml.

Seven Stills is the brainchild of San Franciscans Tim Olbert and Clint Potter, who’ve set out on the ingenious–and in retrospect, oddly obvious–mission of making great craft whiskies from great craft beers.

As of summer 2015, they’re released three out of a planned series of seven: Whipnose (from a double IPA), Fluxuate (from a coffee porter), and the above-mentioned Chocasmoke, from a chocolate oatmeal stout.

Call me crazy, but I loved this stuff. I’m not one for anything that can show up in the “Novelty Whiskey” part of the menu (LA’s Thirsty Crow Bar actually has one), but Chocasmoke won me over.

Full-blown chocolate oatmeal stout nose–no surprise there–but then…lemon! The palate’s unexpectedly bright. Youth is evident, as to be expected from a mere six months of aging, no matter how small your barrels, but it’s under control. Smoked honey. Bitter cocoa and mild peat.  Lovely alternation between the darker nose and brighter palate as you make your way through the dram. A little like a wild armagnac turned up to 11. Just imagine this with some age!

Yes, it’s mostly available in California. And yes, the price for a 375ml should give you pause. But if you’re at a whiskey bar adventurous enough to stock it, and especially if your taste in beer runs rich and chocolatey, don’t pass it up.

I’ll be following future Seven Stills releases with great interest. Lay up a few barrels for some serious aging, gents! – BO