Friday, June 29, 2012

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

All bourbon is made with at least 51 percent corn (most of them are more like 70+), 10-15 percent malted barley, and then a secondary flavoring grain, usually either rye or wheat.  The most famous wheater is Maker's Mark, but you may have heard of the Weller line of bourbon, Old Fitzgerald, or Pappy Van Winkle, all wheated bourbons.  Hudson Four Grain has intrigued me for a while, as, you guessed it, they use both rye and wheat in addition to barley and corn.  Hudson whiskies are distilled in New York at the Tuthilltown Gristmill, which according to the bottle is a National Historic Site.  I like to try boutique or "craft" whiskies at times, but, as I've stated before, unlike the beer world, in whisky the little guys are still playing catch up in terms of quality, and it's always a risk.  I haven't tried it yet as the price point is about $40 for a 375ml bottle, that's more $ per drop than most high end bourbons, including the giant George T. Stagg and the rest of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (granted they are harded to find).  But after the guy in the store talked up Tuthilltown and said they were offering $2 off, I bit the bullet.  I am drinking batch 14, bottle number 405, 92 proof.  The corn is a New York heirloom variety, and makes up about 60 percent of the mashbill.

Jim Murray's review says the nose is "a problem."  I don't find it particularly problematic, but it is on the sharp, alcoholic side rather than the soft, warming side, as far as noses go.  I found the nose more just a bit weak than anything else.  It's not particularly dark in color at 92 proof, it looks gold-like.

This is pretty good stuff.  Hudson uses smaller barrels for shorter aging, and I do think that has a negative impact.  There is a reason the better bourbons are aged for 6-8 years or more.  While smaller barrels allow for enough contact with the oak, something else happens in the magical aging process that I'm not sure you can replicate with smaller barrels in less time.  Here's further reading on it--small vs. large barrel debate--but this whisky is slightly rough around the edges.  I do think the four grains interplay nicely, you get a bit of rye cinnamon spice but it's still like eating wheat bread, soft and round and sweet.  Jason Pyle finds notes of rum and sourdough; there is a sort of "rumminess" to it.  One other thing I am getting is, well, paper.  Not in a bad way, and not that I've eaten a lot of paper.  But it's the only way I can describe it.  I guess paper is made from wood, maybe it's the oak I am getting, like a dryness.

Medium, pleasant.  No burn, for good or for bad.  Lingers shortly but too low a proof to have too much impact. 

It's a cool bottle, and it's always fun to try something made from a more local, small batch mindset.  I think it's real good stuff.  Jim Murray's Whisky Bible states, "Sort out a few gremlins and this promises to be a whisky to watch."   For me the main gremlin is the cost.  I just can't see putting down another 40 bucks or more, or even to try one of their other entries.  Jason Pyle from Sour Mash Manifesto says this is their best entry, so I'm glad I chose it.  But 375ml is only 7-8 pours, not the best value in my book.  I always compare whiskies to others first by taste and then by price point.  Is it better than Buffalo Trace's flagship brand.  Possibly.  Is it 3-4 times better?  No way.  As with any good bourbon, though, it does grow on you.  As I finish this post I wonder if I am being slightly too hard on it, because I am quite enjoying this pour.

1 comment:

  1. I like that your first impressions weren't great, but after a glass or two, its not too bad. it has no burn and tastes like paper, sounds like one i will skip. although this paper taste does make me curious about it. anyway, I'm heading off on vacation to Scotland, hopefully we will have time to hit a distillery while we're there. we will be near edinburgh and glenkinchie is near there.