Tuthilltown Spirits is a really cool distillery – making local whiskeys in new ways and prioritizing the grains available to them indigenously. There is a drive, recently document by the New York Times, for distilleries outside Kentucky and Tennessee to make whiskeys unique to where they are, as opposed to recreating something done elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that’s what lead me to first read about Tuthilltown Spirits, as well as Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (who should be getting a review here soon), but I’m having trouble finding the article.
In any event, I recently acquired a bottle of Tuthilltown Spirts’ Hudson Baby Bourbon. It’s 100% corn bourbon, aged for only three months in small oak barrels. The Baby Bourbon’s use of 100% corn sets it out as something of a rarity. Federal law requires bourbon to have at least 51% corn, but few bourbons have more than 80% corn. Eric Asimov had this to say about the Hudson Baby Bourbon:
So what happens if you take corn whiskey and put it in charred new oak barrels? You get Hudson Baby bourbon, which is the only 100 percent corn bourbon that I know of, and I have to say, it’s awfully good – mellow and fruity with just a touch of sweetness, but not nearly as sweet as, say, Maker’s Mark, to take another young bourbon. I think the corn character is what makes it so mellow, which is unusual in a bourbon aged less than two years (at which time it can be called “straight bourbon’’ – you learn a lot browsing the federal regulations).
I found the nose of the baby bourbon to have a fairly strong caramel and citrus tones. The first sip brings a lot of lemon and orange peel flavor up front, along with a brief hit of pepper. It mellows towards the back of the tongue with a nice hit of vanilla. It leaves with a bit of acidity, but is very smooth for 92 proof whiskey. It was an easy-to-drink bourbon that retained a great deal of complexity without being too sweet.
I’d say that this was probably one of the best bourbons I’ve ever had and is probably going to challenge the Pappy van Winkle 20 year a run for the best bourbon I currently own. I just really enjoyed it in a way that I didn’t expect.
Normally for reviews I like to taste a spirit neat, with ice, and then in a cocktail or two. But for this I stopped after having the Baby Bourbon on ice. It was just that good. Also, since the bottle is only 375 mL and runs at about $40 a pop, I wasn’t prepared to make such a big dent in the bottle just yet, especially since I’m not sure if I can find more in DC.
Via the comments, check out this video of The Happy Hour Guys at the Tutilltown Spirits distillery.