28 Jan 2015
I’ve written before about aging whiskey in small barrels and the theories behind it. Some say it’s a shortcut to make a young whiskey taste like fine, well-aged whiskey, while others say it only makes lousy whiskey. As I’ve stated before, my feeling is the practice mostly produces a different kind of whiskey, very different but not necessarily lesser.
Tuthilltown Distillery, which makes the Hudson line, is certainly a believer in the mini-barrel aging method, as all their products are stored in 3-10 gallon barrels for “less than four years,” though they don’t disclose how much less. (I wrote about their Baby Bourbon and Four Grain Bourbon years ago.) Interestingly, the increasingly common practice of labeling young whiskey “less than four years old” will no longer fly under new federal labeling guidelines, meaning that an actual affirmative age statement will soon be necessary.
For this “limited edition” rye (word is it will become an annual release), Tuthilltown took its Hudson Manhattan Rye and finished it in casks that had previously been used to age maple syrup. The result is a 92-proof finished rye that sells for around $55 for a 375 ml. bottle (half the size of a traditional bottle).
Whether it’s the maple or the mini casks, the Hudson Maple Rye features an inviting rich copper color. The nose definitely has a added hint of maple on top of oak and wood spice.
But on the palate the youth shows. The woodiness is an astringent oak flavor that overwhelms more inviting notes of maple, maltiness, pear, and cocoa. The finish shows more young oak and maple.
I think a Mexican-wrapped cigar is ideal for this rye, as it has a similar quality of full flavor with a slightly harsh edge. The Illusione *R* Rothchildes is an excellent choice, especially with its value price.
Ultimately, it’s hard to recommend Hudson Maple Cask Rye to all but the most committed collector, mostly because the price and the harshness due to its youth. Still, one thing I really appreciate about this whiskey is the natural way Hudson handled adding a maple flavor, at a time when more sketchy, artificial methods of flavoring are becoming increasingly common.
photo credit: Stogie Guys