After trying my hand with some well-buzzed Kentucky bourbons over the last two weeks, I’ve decided to venture out from the Bluegrass State and try something a little closer to home – both geographically and nominally. I’m a single malt Scotch drinker in New York and this week I tried Tuthilltown Spirits’ Hudson Single Malt Whiskey (HSMW).
HSMW comes in a short, stout little bottle with varying thickness of the glass, especially around the top. This, along with the hand numbering and un-machinic wax-sealed cork, gives off a very homemade, little guy impression. I have to say that this is not at all unwelcome, especially given the carefully crafted reflective nostalgia of Buffalo Trace’s flagship brand and (to a lesser extent) Four Roses’ Small Batch offering. Tuhilltown’s products come across as unpretentiously American, authentic, while still reviving an older style of liquor production.
My expectations for HSMW were mainly drawn from 1) the 100% barley mash and 2) the use of petite, new charred oak casks. I expected a higher complexity of flavor compared to the Kentucky bourbons I’d sampled the past two weeks, as well as heavy charred oak influence with a bit of vanilla. Basically, I imagined the influence of the smaller casks used in Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask translated to a less corn-driven whiskey.
It turns out I was a bit off.
To the nose, HSMW was wonderfully light and oaky with an every so slight hint of vanilla. This was more akin to the Four Roses Small Batch than it was to most Scotches or the Buffalo Trace.
Upon drinking the oakiness becomes very dominant. There is no doubt that the choice of casks had a strong influence. After the oak though, there were waves of freshly cut grass and an almost hidden twinge of nectar. The finish was very clean.
HSMW was far less complex than I had expected or hoped. Still, this was a very enjoyable, drinkable whiskey that stands out from the crowd.
It seems that what they have here is a promising, but largely blank, canvas that could do with more aging and varied cask selection. Clearly the whiskey drew much of its character from the petite oak casks, so I’d be curious to sample a variation with either more time in that cask, or influence from sherry, zinfandel, or other casks along those lines.
That said, I can see myself coming back to HSMW more regularly than Four Roses or Buffalo Trace. I’m intrigued to find out more about the other Tuthilltown offerings.