In 2003, one Ralph Erenzo had an idea to move to Upstate New York and start a distillery. At the time he founded what is today known as Hudson Whiskey he was a pioneer in the craft distilling movement, particularly in his state where he was aiming to be the first to make whiskey there since Prohibition. The dream was a success, leading to eventual complete acquisition by Scotch whisky outfit William Grant & Sons in 2017 (they had acquired the Hudson Whiskey brand in 2010).
Now, in a move to give the brand a more “bold” future, the look and feel of what is Hudson Whiskey has evolved, while also featuring “more mature liquid.” To this end, according to those behind it, “the result is a reinvention of Baby Bourbon to Bright Lights, Big Bourbon and Manhattan Rye to Do The Rye Thing. As a yearly limited edition release, Maple Cask Rye is now Short Stack and an exciting innovation with a one-time release, Back Room Deal is a straight rye whiskey finished in peated Scotch barrels.”
In addition, there are plans “to experiment with older age statements to release additional innovations in the near future.”
“My career began in the culinary arts after graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, so I value the fact that great products begin with great ingredients,” said Brendan O’Rourke, Chief Distiller and Operations Manager of Hudson Whiskey, in a prepared statement. “As a born and bred New Yorker, it is important to me to showcase the hard work from our local family farmers. These grains form the backbone of Hudson Whiskey and we are proud to work alongside our neighbors as our brand continues to grow.
“As the liquid inside of the bottle has evolved, it was fitting to update the packaging as well. The inspiration came from our love of the great state of New York and the people who make it unique.”
With regards to O’Rourke’s reference to updating the packaging, what’s been noted around this is that it it now “captures the classic and dynamic essence of New York. The new packaging is inspired by the New York subway system with black and white blocking and bold, vibrant colors for each variant that convey a sense of place.
“The new variant names reflect New York attitude and embrace the kind of characters, places and moments that only exist in New York.”
Below you’ll find some more official specifics on each of the expressions referenced above.
- Bright Lights, Big Bourbon (around $40/750 ml, $25/375 ml): Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Bright Lights, Big Bourbon is a bold, grain-forward, no-holds-barred straight bourbon whiskey. Distilled from New York corn and aged in new charred American oak barrels, with notes of rich vanilla and lightly salted caramel on the finish, it shines brighter than the rest.
- Do The Rye Thing (around $40/750 ml, $25/375 ml): We did it. New York’s first straight whiskey in nearly a century, in a style all our own. Bold and spicy, with notes of citrus and honey and a bright mint finish, Do The Rye Thing is as iconic as the classic New York slice.
- Short Stack (around $55/750 ml): In the city that never sleeps, the diner is an institution. Short Stack is our toast to those late-night haunts, and the characters that inhabit them. Distilled from hearty New York rye, mellowed in American oak, then finished in Vermont maple syrup barrels. Bold rye spice rounded by a subtle maple sweetness: consider this our blue plate special.
- Back Room Deal (around $55/750 ml):We send our ex-bourbon barrels across the Atlantic where they’re used to age peated whiskey, then emptied and returned to our distillery where we fill them up again with straight rye whiskey. There’s nothing sinister about it, it’s just how the world works. A bit of smoke, a bit of spice. Good enough to seal the deal.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...