Tag Archives: New York

American Fruits Apple Brandy

Just when you thought you were reading a blog devoted to whiskey, I pull out a brandy: an American spirit to no lesser degree however.  In fact, brandies – specifically apple brandies – have probably been in production in the US longer than grain whiskey of any type has.  Colonists in New England distilled hard cider into applejack using the freeze distillation method, resulting in a harsh beverage full of fusel alcohols.

Fortunately Warwick Valley Wine Company (NY) does not rely on freeze distillation to make their apple brandy.  Rather they use a copper pot still to refine their spirit, much to the drinkers’ advantage.  They also age it for one year in New York oak.  I’m a little doubtful that such a young bottling will be very interesting, but I am glad to see another product come out of the Northeast.

Stats:

– apx $25

– Made by Warwick Valley Wine Co.

– 80 proof

Presentation:

American Fruits Apple Brandy comes in a tall, thin bottle with a lon neck and a bright red plastic cork-handle on the top.  Instead of a paper label WVWC frosts the the clear glass, with the exception of the outline of an apple in the center.  The front is sparsely decorated with this apple serving as the central adornment.  Other than that and the product information, it shows only the name in two simple fonts.

The back sports the image of Warwick Valley itself and a paragraph relating the friendships at the core of the WVWC.  It comes across as overly sentimental in the way that American wineries can be, but it does get the point across that these guys are a little new to the field of distilled spirits.

Also important to note is that nowhere on the bottle do they put an age statement.  Sure, one year is nothing to trumpet, but youth affects liquor to a gret degree and it would probably be helpful to many prospective buyers to see the age right on the bottle.

Tasting:

American Fruits Apple Brandy smells an awful lot like you’d expect  young apple brandy to smell like: recently distilled alcohol and apples, cider specifically.  It hasn’t spent enough time in the barrel to come into its own or pick up anything significant from the wood.

On tasting the impression is much the same.  As with any spirit so young, the immediate impression is that of the alcohol.  That said, it is not overly harsh and rather smooth compared to something like Georgia Moon.  Perhaps those 12 months did some good after all.  Following this initial sensation, it settles into a pleasant, clean, apply finish that is surprisingly long.

Over all:

This is a good start for the WVWC, but clearly their apple brandy is too young to have anything approaching complexity or depth.  It will be interesting to watch as they come out with an older variety – perhaps a six or four year?  These might begin to reveal their full potential.

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Hudson Single Malt Whiskey

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).

Presentation:

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.

Tasting:

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.

Over all:

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.