Hudson Whiskey Tasting

April 19 2011 - 10:31 AM

On April 13 we attended a Tuthilltown Distillery-sponsored whiskey tasting and food pairing at Bangers & Lace in Noble Square.  Gable Erenzo, the distiller and brand ambassador, as well as an avid rock climber, discussed the whiskeys and gave us the history of Hudson.

He was supported by the crew from William Grant & Sons, the owner of the Hudson Whiskey brand, and maker of such brands as Balvenie and Glenfiddich. Tuthilltown is situated in the New York Hudson Valley area in an old working grist mill built in 1788.   The building was originally bought by Ralph Erenzo for a rock climbing ranch, but due to local opposition it became a distillery instead.  A 100-gallon pot still from Germany and a farm distiller’s license was obtained, and it became the second distillery in New York, using local corn, wheat, barley, and rye, as well as the first whiskey distillery since Prohibition.  It mills its own grain on site and does on-site fermentation, thus it is not dependent on breweries.

We started the event with a nice white whiskey Manhattan, though the true tasting started with the un-aged white whiskey itself, served neat, simply called Corn Whiskey. With a nose of buttery popcorn and rich corn flavor, it was a clean-drinking liquor that was a “whole mash” product, which is taking a porridge and distilling it until grain-oriented final product, which is 80 proof.

The second in the list was the Baby Bourbon, aged in charred oak three-gallon barrels, used to speed up the otherwise long-aging process.  Small barrels gives more surface area and oak extraction in a shorter period of time.   Made from 100 percent corn, there was a nose of oak and flavors of vanilla and caramel.    It was paired with a nice semi-soft goat cheese covered in cocoa.

Next was a whole mashed Manhattan rye whiskey, bottled at 92 proof, with nice flavors of nutmeg and cloves.  Eighty percent of the raw materials come within five miles of the distillery.   It came witha delicious  pork sausage and smokey bacon cured in malt vinegar.

The Four Grain Bourbon was served that was 60 percent corn, with wheat, rye, and barley.  It was made by grinding grain at the distillery, followed by cooking and fermenting.  Distilled twice, it was exceptionally smooth and went nicely with a bourbon barbecue chicken sausage with camembert cheese and carmelized onions and a bourbon glaze.  There was a nice bourbon chocolate tart to finish off the tasting.

All of Hudson’s whiskeys were exceptionally well rounded with long finishes, and probably something that I would prefer to serve neat or cautiously in a cocktail.   Hudson whiskey is available at numerous craft bars throughout Chicago, including Bangers & Lace, and bottles can be purchased at Binny’s and numerous other liquor stores and wine shops.

–Brian Ziegler