On Thursday, April 29th, along with about 20 current students, I had the opportunity to participate in a whiskey tasting event that was organized as a student club activity. More than a simple whiskey tasting, it was also an opportunity to learn about a great New York success story—the Tuthilltown Spirits story.
Tuthilltown Spirits is “New York’s first whiskey distillery since PROHIBITION, and it distills some of America’s most prized spirits here in the Hudson Valley...." Indeed. From the grains used in the distillation process to the barrels the spirits are stored in, everything used in making these spirits is produced on New York farms. Tuthilltown Spirits, which was founded in 2003, has one goal: to bring about a renaissance of artisanal whiskey and make it a sustainable initiative.
The presentation and tasting was led by Gable Erenzo, Distiller and Brand Ambassador. Our tour took us through farms and fields—five different stops in all—each stop represented by one of the five glasses we had the chance to taste.
The first glass that we tasted was also the first product ever made by the company. A triple-distilled vodka made from local apples. We, then, tasted a “clear whiskey,” also called “new make” or “white dog,” a nonaged whiskey that is as clear as water. It is made from 100 percent corn. No sugar is added to this nonaged sipping whiskey. Hudson Baby Bourbon, our third tasting, is the first bourbon whiskey to be distilled in New York. This single-grain bourbon is also made from 100 percent New York corn and has lovely vanilla and oak notes, probably due to the small American oak barrels Tuthilltown Spirits use for aging. According to Gable, “the barrel storage has the most profound effect upon the final spirit. Up next, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey is made from corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. “The grains are perfectly suited one to another, so that the end result is a balance of the soft richness of corn, the sharp peppery notes of rye, all the smooth subtlety of wheat, and the sweetness of malted barley." Our final tasting was a rye whiskey, often referred to as “Government Warning Rye.” It is made with whole grain rye and bottled at 92 proof. These unique batches are released as they are ready and each carries a unique flavor. Each batch is the distiller’s choice with spicier overtones and a grassy rye notes.
Gable gave a wonderful presentation and tasting, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the Tuthilltown Spirits philosophy. I wish the continued success to the Tuhilltown Spirits family. They now have the tough job of balancing the increasing demand for their products with the long process it takes to create some of their spirits.
Loïc Ney is currently interning at the International Culinary Center. He attends the Universite du Sud/Toulon-Var, located in La Garde. He is studying foreign languages applied to business studies.