Hudson Whiskey

Artisanal craft products always hold a certain fascination–and I loved our tour of a distillery in Ireland–so when I learned about Hudson Whiskey, the first whiskey producer in New York State since prohibition, I was pretty excited to visit them. Actually, I thought we might be able to drop by when we went to the town of Hudson (I mean, right?!), but when I asked Ashley, she of course knew it was across the river in Gardiner, NY. In fact the four-year-old distillery is called Tuthilltown Spirits and produces vodkas and rum in addition to whiskey.
We finally got a chance to visit this past weekend while we were upstate for my birthday. Ashley and I stopped in on Sunday and were lucky to be able to join the 3 pm tour. (They require reservations and were booked up, but took pity on me when I plead the birthday-case.)
Our guide was a great; he reminded me a bit of a high school science teacher, and he went into all the details of the production that I find interesting: how they designed the smaller barrel size to increase the exposure of the whiskey to the charred white oak; how they built the fractionator that they use to distill the different alcohols; and how they decided to seal the bottles with wax (because it was faster for their two-man line and not because it looks awesome–which it does). He also told the trial-and-error story of the founders, who built the business on the grounds of 221-year-old Tuthilltown gristmill; theirs is the type of story that makes me inspired by the idea of starting a new business.

Perhaps the highlight of the tour, however, was tasting the product. I took small sips so I could try (almost) everything. Each of us could taste from three bottles. Their recipe for rum, following one developed by the Huguenots (who settled in nearby New Paltz in the 1600s) was pretty interesting, but I thought the best was the Rye, followed closely by single malt.
The good news/bad news is that Tuthilltown Spirits has recently been bought by William Grant & Sons (the big guys behind Glenfiddich). Good news for us as they will soon have world wide distribution (and even better news for them), but I sure hope they don’t change their micro-distillery character.
Like all good micro-distilleries, Tuthilltown numbers their bottles. I took home Hudson Whiskey Manhattan Rye, bottle 541 from batch 13. I’m sure it’s a winner.
(By the way, the historic gristmill, adjacent to the tasting room and distillery, has been converted into a restaurant, Tuthill House. We checked out the menu and it looked good for dinner or lunch, and would be great to tie-in to a tour!)

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