A new craft distillery from a pair of beer and whiskey enthusiasts is taking shape at the edge of Potrero Hill (2501 Cesar Chavez), and it’s called Seven Stills. It’s the project of two guys, Tim Obert and Clint Potter who studied business together at UC Santa Cruz, and it was inspired in part by Obert’s four-year-old obsession with brewing beer. "Not a lot of people know the connection between brewing and distilling," Obert says. "When you’re making whiskey you’re basically starting with a really low-quality beer. And we want to play off of that connection with our brand, using different beer styles as the basis for our whiskeys." In the works, for example, are Chocasmoke, a whiskey inspired by chocolate stout beer; and Simple Belg, an aged whiskey inspired by a Belgian Dubbel.
Obert sees the craft beer boom in the U.S. giving way to an equally big craft spirits boom, and he’s hoping Seven Stills can get in on that trend, but with the added twist of bringing the nuances of beer into the whiskey realm. And they’ll be making a vodka too.
Like in the beer world, the branding is light-hearted. By way of example, see this mock-up of one of their labels, featuring the bear from the California state flag crawling, King Kong-like, up the TransAmerica pyramid to "steal San Francisco’s whiskey." And the name of course, Seven Stills, plays on the Seven Hills of San Francisco.
Whiskey takes a while to age, and so we likely won’t be seeing the first Seven Stills whiskey hit the market until 2014. And as for a tasting room, that’s not quite in the works yet, but stay tuned.
Obert tells us that they’re just now wending their way through the licensing process with the ABC, but that they should be open for business, at least with their vodka, by late spring or early summer — he’s hoping to make a debut of sorts at the upcoming San Francisco Craft Spirits Carnival in mid-June. You can also look for their labels in the coming months, wherever craft spirits are sold.