In keeping with last week’s weird blend, today we have a blend of old-school Kentucky bourbon with a quirky California rye. As such, it’s labeled as a “Blend of American Whiskies”, not as a “bourbon”. J.H. Cutter is named after the flagship brand of a gold rush whiskey merchant named A.P. Hotaling. The link to Anchor brands, best known for Anchor Steam beer and now also named after Hotaling, is tenuous. Perhaps someone at Anchor bought the rights to Hotaling’s brands at some point. It’s kind of irrelevant to the liquid, though, isn’t it?
The liquid, in fact, is a blend of 73% sourced bourbon from Bardstown (aka Kentucky Bourbon Distillers / KBD aka Willett), 17% Old Potrero 18th Century Style Rye Whiskey (which is 100% malted rye), and 10% Old Potrero Port Finish Rye Whiskey. Old Potrero is one of Anchor’s whiskey brands, distilled and aged in San Francisco, California. The reported ages of the components seem to vary on the Internet, so assume they’re all somewhere between 2.5 and 4.5 years old. The blend is bottled at a robust 48% ABV.
Nose: Vaguely malty (from the Potrero malted rye), with hints of corn alongside malted milk balls, orange peel, cardamom, and rye spices. Lilacs and other florals, plus a very light fruity note like pear drops. A rest in the glass reveals more bourbon-like notes, with dark corn syrup and toasted oak.
Palate: Thin body. Moderate tongue burn, appropriate for 48% ABV. Tastes more like a lighter-style bourbon now, with corn-forward flavors, cherry syrup, spicy rye notes, and a welcome continuation of the pear drops from the aroma. Reminds me of some High West rye-based blends I’ve had.
Finish: Medium length. Not bitter or tannic at all. The fruits persist, and a mouth-drying menthol note kicks in early. The maltiness comes back in the end, like vanilla marshmallows and frosted cereal. Pleasant.
With Water: The addition of a few drops of water initially mutes the aroma, requiring a rest in the glass. Even then, the only thing that wakes up is the nose tickle. Skip water here.
Overall: A very pleasant, subtle, perfumed, even dainty whiskey with a mixture of familiar and novel flavors. The port finish comes through in faint pear drops (I love that), while the two whiskies shift between rye spiciness and light corn sweetness, back and forth over the palate. I got a sweet deal for $34 which makes this an approachable experiment. Much above $45 and I wouldn’t feel like I had gotten my money’s worth. It is very young whisky, after all, although Anchor has done an excellent job masking the youth behind good old-fashioned flavor.