Whiskey Review: Hudson Manhattan Rye

When Ralph Erenzo purchased the Tuthilltown Gristmill in 2001, he planned to turn the property and historic mill into a rock climbing haven. Unfortunately for rock climbers, neighbors of the mill in Gardiner, New York were not as keen on Erenzo’s plans. After a year of legal battles with the neighbors, Erenzo gave up on rock climbing and started investigating alternative uses for the mill.

With a micro-distillery favorable change in New York law, Erenzo partnered with Brian Lee to start Tuthilltown Spirits in 2003. When Erenzo and Lee started the company, information on how to start a micro-distillery was scarce. So, they pieced together information and equipment from a variety of sources, including eBay and an English translation of a German manual on distilling.

Two and a half years later, Erenzo and Lee released vodka made from apples grown from a nearby orchard. Following the vodka, Tuthilltown became the first whiskey distillery to open in the state of New York since Prohibition with the release of Hudson Baby Bourbon.

Hudson Manhattan Rye

image via Whitney Harrod Morris

In hindsight, Erenzo and Lee’s timing could not have been better – they were one of the first craft distillers, and their distillery was up and running just in time for the American whiskey boom. As interest in American whiskey surged, Tuthilltown added additional whiskeys to their Hudson label, including Hudson Single Malt Whiskey, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, Hudson New York Corn Whiskey, Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey (the subject of this review), and Hudson Maple Cask Rye Whiskey.

For all of the Hudson whiskeys, Tuthilltown sources 90% of their raw materials from local farms. In addition, Tuthilltown was one of the first distillers to use smaller format barrels. Their first batches of whiskey were aged in three gallon barrels. Now, the distillers at Hudson say they have retired the three gallon barrels and are using a variety of sizes, including some full-sized barrels as well as 26-30 gallon barrels.

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Fast-forward over a decade, and Tuthilltown Spirits is now considered the old-guard in craft distilling, with CNBC dubbing them the “Samuel Adams of whiskey.” Due to their immense success in the craft whiskey space, Tuthilltown drew the attention of large spirits manufacturers, and William Grant & Sons acquired the rights for production and distribution of the Hudson whiskey line in 2010.

With continuing demand for craft whiskey, it seems likely that Tuthilltown will continue to grow. Moreover, the added resources and support from William Grant & Sons for the Hudson whiskey brand may lead to older expressions and additional offerings. All-in-all, the future looks bright for Tuthilltown and the Hudson whiskey brand.

Now, on to the task at hand, tasting Hudson Manhattan Rye whiskey.

Tasting Notes: Hudson Manhattan Rye

Vital Stats: Hudson Manhattan Rye whiskey is bottled at 92 proof and made with a mash bill of 100% rye grain. As for an age statement, the label only provides that the whiskey is aged less than four years. Since Tuthilltown produces their products in small batches, it should be noted that the subject batch of this review is batch number four of 2015. Finally, Tuthilltown bottles the rye in 375 mL bottles ($44.99) and 750mL bottles ($49.99).

Appearance: In the glass, Hudson Manhattan Rye appears copper-brown with thin legs.

Nose: As with many young whiskeys, Hudson Manhattan Rye emits strong cereal grain notes. In addition, there are notes of cinnamon and oak.

Palate: Sharp spice notes of cinnamon, allspice, and pepper start off the front. In the mid palate, the spice notes are balanced by mint, dry oak, and a slightly bitter cereal grain flavor. The finish is mild with dry oak and light pepper.

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Final Thoughts:

If you are looking for a craft distilled rye whiskey (not a brand selling MGPI-sourced rye whiskey), Hudson Manhattan Rye is a good place to start. I would also recommend trying a pour if you see it sitting on the shelf at a bar. However, if you’re merely looking for a rye whiskey for the home bar, the on average $40 to $50 price tag for a 375 mL bottle makes this a difficult purchase to recommend.