Anchor Distilling

About Anchor Distilling Company

Nearly 400 Premium Spirits from 23 Countries in One Curated Portfolio

Providing The Bridge Between Discerning Buyers And The World's Most Unique Spirits

Anchor Distilling Company is the spirits division of Anchor Brewers & Distillers, embracing the commitment to quality, heritage and authenticity that have long made the Anchor name iconic. Anchor Distilling Company distills a range of spirits at the Anchor Brewery & Distillery on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, and also imports a diverse portfolio of premium spirits from around the world.

Fritz Maytag & Anchor Brewing's History (Full history of Anchor Brewing Co. available here)

The brewery that would become Anchor was founded in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco in 1871 by Gottlieb Brekle, with the Anchor name appearing in 1896 following the sale of the brewery. Anchor would see a lot of ups and downs in the coming decades, including experiencing the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Prohibition in 1920, and several ownership and location changes over the years.

In 1965, Fritz Maytag purchased Anchor to save it from bankruptcy, and at the same time began what would ultimately become the craft beer revolution that we all enjoy today. In 1977, Maytag moved Anchor to its current location on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, continuing its pioneering efforts in the production of craft beer and setting the stage for yet another revolutionary venture: Anchor Distilling Company.

Anchor Distilling Company

Inspired by his pioneering experience with craft beer, Fritz Maytag established Anchor Distilling Company in 1993, an idea which Fritz had been considering for some time. According to Maytag, "I had a vision back in the early seventies that maybe making a rye whiskey would be an interesting idea.

The Anchor Brewery and Distillery in San Francisco
The Anchor Brewery and Distillery in San Francisco

Historically, rye whiskey preceded bourbon, and at the time was totally out of fashion. That appealed to me because one of the things we did in the early days of brewing was to do things that were purposefully not popular."

Fritz's vision of a rye whiskey revival took a step closer to becoming reality with the bold realization that there were no pot-distilled whiskeys being made legally in America at the time. Finding inspiration in the rye whiskies of America's past and the great single malt whiskies of Scotland, Fritz gathered a small team to begin top secret research and experimentation in the distillery. According to Bruce Joseph, who has been at Anchor since 1980 and is the current Head Distiller, "When we started, we were making the only pot-distilled whiskey in the U.S. Fritz wanted to go back before bourbon, to colonial times, and we had to do a lot of digging in really old books to teach ourselves about it. Those of us working on the project were able to experiment and really wanted to push the boundaries of American Whiskey."

Anchor's foray into gin was a natural evolution fueled by the same creative inspirations that led to the distillation of rye whiskey. "We realized distilling is fun, and I had learned a lot about herbs, spices and exotics flavorings from our spiced Christmas Ales." The research process for the gin was extensive - Fritz and his team created a list of ingredients and began experimenting one by one using a base built around the fundamental ingredients in most gins. Further experimentation and refinement would eventually lead the Anchor team to create Junipero, San Francisco's first craft gin, a process that seemed endless at the time but was obvious when it arrived. Junipero launched in April of 1996, and soon after the team also launched an obscure style of gin — "What in the old days was simply un-aged whiskey distilled with herbs and botanicals, primarily juniper". The result was Genevieve, which quickly became a celebrated cocktail ingredient amongst bartenders with an appreciation for classic cocktails.

A New Chapter for Anchor Distilling Company

In 2010, a new chapter began for Anchor Distilling Company, with Fritz Maytag retiring and beverage industry veterans Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio purchasing the company. The vision for Anchor Distilling Company expanded beyond production on Potrero Hill to include importing premium spirits from around the world, including a partnership with London's oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd. This partnership would bring some iconic brands to the Anchor portfolio, including The Glenrothes Whisky, The King's Ginger liqueur and No.3 London Dry Gin, as well as Anchor Distilling Company President David King. Since then, Anchor Distilling Company's portfolio of spirits has grown to include nearly 400 spirits from a long list of categories and countries from around the world.

The same pioneering spirit established by Fritz Maytag continues to resonate at Anchor Distilling Company. Several new spirits have been created in the Potrero Hill distillery, and the Anchor portfolio spirits continues to evolve with additional brands and products that are adding something new to the spirits and cocktail scene in the United States.

David King
President, Anchor Distilling Company

David King is the President of San Francisco-based Anchor Distilling Company, where he directs one of the most complete, interesting and influential premium niche portfolios and artisanal distilleries in the country. With more than 25 years of international spirits experience, it is no surprise that King has more than tripled the Anchor Distilling Company's team and business, David King, President, Anchor Distilling Company growing from eight people in 2011 to more than 36 by the end of 2013, while following a vision for innovation within the portfolio.

As the son of a Distillery Customs Officer from Scotland, King was schooled in scotch from very young age. King began his career in the industry on the technical side of beverage alcohol, working with flavor ingredients for major producers in the U.S. He moved to London in 1989 to run Europe and Australasia/Pacific for J & B Scotch, Knockando Single Malt Whisky, and was on the launch team for Bombay Sapphire Gin. From there, King joined the Edrington Group in 1995 as Managing Director of Lang Brothers and running the Glengoyne Distillery. King moved to London's Berry Brothers & Rudd, the world's oldest and most prestigious wine and spirits merchant, in 1999 where he worked on Cutty Sark and The Glenrothes globally. Over the past 10 years and prior to the sale of Cutty Sark in April 2010, King contributed to the sale of over 20 million cases in over 80 different countries.

While at Berry Brothers & Rudd, King started to showcase his creative spirit development expertise by helming the development of No. 3 London Dry Gin, The King's Ginger Liqueur, and Pink Pigeon Mauritian Rum, which are now part of the Anchor Distilling Company's unique portfolio, as is The Glenrothes brand.

King is the champion and curator of the Anchor Distilling Company's portfolio of spirits, and strives to create not simply a drink but an experience. "When people taste an 'Anchor brand,' whether it is one we make or import, I hope they get a truly unique experience. I am always struck by just how good the liquid quality of the portfolio is even if the name of the brand is not that familiar… yet. Discovery for me is one of the truly rewarding factors in modern life and I believe that at Anchor we have more 'a-ha' moments than most," says King.

To that end, King has overseen the additions of the Japanese whisky brand Nikka, the French cognac HINE, the Peruvian pisco BarSol, and now the first-ever Taiwanese whisky, Kavalan, making Anchor Distilling Company the go-to importer for classic premium spirits. "I am currently working on bringing some very interesting new products while still innovating here in San Francisco," he explains. King continues his innovation program started at Berry Bros. & Rudd with the creation of HOPHEAD Vodka (the first vodka made with hops), Anchor Old Tom (the first spirit to be sweetened with stevia), and Christmas Spirit (a distillate of Anchor Brewing's previous year's Christmas Ale).

King is on the advisory council of the World Whisky Festival, and frequent speaker at many whisky festivals worldwide. King is also a Master of the Keepers of the Quaich and has been featured in numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg Markets.