Tasting Notes: Hudson Single Malt Whiskey (Official v. Private Bottling)

As regular readers know, late last year the Whisky Party crew put together a group of friends to purchase a 3 gallon barrel of single malt American whiskey from Tuthilltown Distillery in New York. After much work (and mishaps) shipping 23 bottles to various places across the country, all three of our bloggers were finally able to taste their bottles. Here are the tasting notes on our very first (and hopefully not the last) private barrel of whiskey, along with a head to head look at how it compares to the official single malt bottling offered by Tuthilltown.

HUDSON SINGLE MALT WHISKEY — OFFICIAL BOTTLING

Gable Erenzo at Tuthilltown describes this official bottling as a “very American style whiskey” that tries to bridge the gap between a bourbon and a scotch. The whiskey has the mash bill of a scotch (100% malted barley), but is aged using a bourbon process employing charred, fresh oak barrels. The Hudson Single Malt contains a vatting of whiskey aged anywhere from 5 months to 2 years, depending on the barrel size, with smaller 3 gallon barrels aged for a shorter span, and larger 14 gallon barrels aged up to two years. It should be noted that it is only sold in 375 mL bottles.

ABV: 46%

Color: Copper/Burnt Orange

Nose: Vanilla, Spice, fresh cut wood

Taste: Vanilla and spice dominate. There is some sweetness but it is muted. Could be citrus fruits.

Overall: The fresh wood aging is hugely apparent in the taste of this whisky. I’m not a big bourbon or rye drinker, but the spicy vanilla with a hint of sweetness is right out of that playbook for my palate. As a single malt scotch lover, it misses the mark for me. Those who like the spicy sweetness of a bourbon or rye might enjoy this experiment, however I fear it is something of a mermaid. When you want a woman, you get a fish, when you want a fish, you get a woman. In this case, those who want a single malt will get a bourbon, and those who want bourbon will get a single malt.

HUDSON SINGLE MALT WHISKEY — SINGLE BARREL

On to our private barrel of whiskey. If you want to read the story about how we came to purchase a full 3 gallon barrel from Tuthilltown, you can read the posts by my co bloggers:

Distilled: 5/20/2009

Bottled: 12/22/2009

ABV: 46%???? (not listed, but this is standard ABV for the single malt)

Notes by Whisky Party

Color: Reddish Copper

Nose: Heat. Vanilla, spice and sweetness. Wood.

Taste: More hot vanilla spiciness. A sweet flavor that might be oranges. A hot finish and still a heavy influence of fresh wood.

Overall: This is exactly the same as the official bottling, except bigger and rougher. Everything is magnified in this expression from the heat to the flavors. In that sense it is a true single barrel — lots of character without the “balancing” of vatting together multiple barrels to take the edges off.

Notes by Strong Like Cask

Legs: Small but very quick.

Color: Pennies reflecting yellowed water

Nose: Vanilla and blood oranges. Very sweet. Also a very sharp tinge of alcohol.

Palate: Oranges again, dunked in some sugar. However, alcohol permeates and it’s pretty one note. Sweet oranges are there, but it’s not a dessert dram. It’s pretty rough around the edges

Finish: Very warming. Turns quite bitter but the citrus remains throughout.

Overall: This is interesting, and I’m surprised it has the color and flavors it does for only spending 7 months in a barrel. Its youth really shows as it’s not too complex and pretty rough around the edges. It’s alright to drink, but I can see it actually going very well in an old fashioned, lending some of its orange flavor to that. I don’t think I’d usually reach for it neat or for a dessert dram. Is it worth it to have our own barrel of old fashioned cocktail making whiskey? Potentially. But I think I might have had slightly higher hopes for this.

Notes by Dodgy Drammer

Color: Deep copper.

Nose: Malt barley, fresh baked bread, some citrus, sour cherries.

Palate: Grains, a touch of vanilla malt, harsh prickly spices, bark.

Body: Flabby.

Finish: The flavour drops off immediately, leaving a grainy, alcoholic sting beneath the tongue.

Overall: Disharmonious. Way too young. This is one of the least enjoyable whiskies that I’ve ever had. Where at $40 for an entire 750ml bottle it might have been worth it for the experiment, at almost $80 for 750ml it is a downright shame. It was aged in a 3 gallon barrel for about 7 months; while the flavours produced from this may be beneficial to a finished, vatted official bottling, on its own it doesn’t stand up. This disappointing experience has got me to thinking about Tuthilltown’s prices in general, since all of their bottles go for over $40 (except the Corn Whiskey) but are only 375ml– for that price ($80 or more per 750ml) there are way better options when it comes to single malts, ryes, and bourbons (even though their rye and bourbon are quite nice).


As you can see, we all pretty much felt that this was too rough and young a whisky for too high a price. Gable Erenzo at the distillery let us know that in the future Tuthilltown will release single malts with higher age statements. My advice is to hold off until that time. For now, if you are going to buy Tuthilltown, stick with their Baby Bourbon