From the very first glance, J.H. Cutter is an oddball. It’s an American product—the label itself claims “a perfect blend of American Whiskies,” yet it chooses the “whisky” spelling and isn’t flagged as a bourbon or a rye.
Launched this past May, it’s a new product from San Francisco’s Hotaling & Co., which was known as the Anchor Distilling Company until 2017. Hotaling & Co., which takes its new name from 19th century San Francisco gold miner-turned-liquor-wholesaler Anson P. Hotaling, created J.H. Cutter with a blend constituted of 73% 4.5-year-old bourbon sourced from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, and two entries from its own line of pot-distilled, 100% rye malt Old Potrero whiskeys: a 17% share of the Old Potrero 18th Century Style Rye Whiskey and a 10% share of the Old Potrero Port Finish Rye Whiskey. The final product is bottled at 48% ABV.
J.H. Cutter is medium copper-amber in appearance, and has a complex nose that’s initially dominated by baking spices, oak, leather, and sawdust. But stop to consider the aroma a little longer, and you’ll notice a dark, sweet undercurrent of stone fruits and canned prunes—most likely courtesy of the Old Potrero Port Finish.
It starts with a rich and luscious texture, and an initial caramel sweetness joined by apricots, raisins, and canned prunes in the center. A vegetal hit of green pepper dries out the darkly sweet middle, and from there the finish races into two parallel, occasionally overlapping tracks. The first is nutty, chocolaty, and just a little savory—think salted cashews covered in chocolate. The second is hot, dry, and spicy, featuring notes of oak, tobacco, and leather. Each track ends in a dry, medium-length finish capped off by a pleasant shot of spice.
The rich texture of J.H. Cutter, alongside its dark fruit and savory-nutty-chocolaty notes, gives it a certain “meal in a glass” quality. But the experience doesn’t feel heavy, thanks to the dry, spicy finish.
Said more simply: a glass of J.H. Cutter is like having a pruny dessert, a glass of port wine, and a fine cigar all at once. We would happily say yes to any of the above, but can emphatically accept all three thanks to this genre-crashing new entry into American whiskey (er, whisky).
— 48% ABV