By Richard Thomas
Updated August 2, 2016
Tuthilltown Spirits was one of the earlier entrants into the craft whiskey scene, and taking advantage of a location that is near enough to New York City and some savvy marketing, they soon pushed to the forefront of that nascent movement. The micro-distillery was bought by William Grant & Sons in 2010, an early example of a craft acquisition by a big drinks company.
The “Baby” in the title refers to the maturation in combination of three gallon (for six months) and 14 gallon (for following 18-24 months) barrels. That was very typical of small barrel aging back in the early days, a practice that led so many pundits to say small barrel whiskey “sucked.” I wouldn’t go so far as that, but there is a sound reason why small barrel aging now often means 25 gallon barrels or larger.
I thought the coloring on this bourbon to be a murky copper, the kind of still-clear amber that leans more into brown than red. The nose was more grainy than sweet, as well as woody. The later aspect had just a hint of astringency to it. The flavor was also grainy and woody, with the vanilla one expects as a standard element of a bourbon to be very muted indeed. It’s there, but far in the background.
This is corn whiskey aged in a different sizes of small barrels, and it shows. It has that green husk character of corn whiskey, and I do like that, but the plain fact is that barrel maturation should moderate that flavor profile, and here it did not. Instead, this bourbon has corn whiskey character with the overtly woody nature of a typical small barrel aged bourbon thrown on top.
It’s not bad, but I just don’t see what all the too-doo is about.
Tuthilltown Hudson Baby Bourbon is, all things considered, a bad buy. It comes in half-sized, 375 ml bottles and is priced in the $45 to $50 range.