By Richard Thomas
Seeing as how I was in the middle of working on a few different selections from seminal upstate New York micro-distillery Tuthilltown and had a pending review with distillery founder Ralph Erenzo and news just broke that William Grant & Sons had finally completed their 2010 acquisition of the Hudson brand by adding the distillery itself, I reckoned it was a good time to pick up the pace and tackle Hudson Manhattan Rye. The whiskey had long been on my hit list anyway, since I have long regarded our original 2013 look as sadly inadequate, an item on my “replace it when you can” list.
This is the replacement.
Manhattan Rye is named not because it was made in Manhattan or (obviously) from Manhattan grain, but because it’s supposed to be a fine choice for making Manhattans. Presumably in Manhattan. It’s a 100% rye mash bill whiskey, almost all of it locally sourced, and distilled in a copper pot. After less than four years of aging, relying heavily on small barrels, the whiskey is bottled at 92 proof.
In the glass, the whiskey has the expected color of Rye whiskey, that of burnished copper. A swish and coat yields plenty of runny legs. The nose packs a solid dose of pumpernickel and a strong current of green wood, with light notes of cherry and fig.
The liquid sits light and a bit watery on the tongue. It’s not light on flavor, though. The rye spice is there, leaning more into peppered territory as the taste unfolds. A touch of vanilla and raisins rounds things out. Not entirely simple, but still very straight forward. Most important is the customary small barrel whiskey astringency, such a common feature of early craft whiskey products, is a minor presence here. It’s there, but it’s very much in the background, perhaps partly covered by the pepper. Compared to the Hudson Baby Bourbon, it’s a big improvement.
The finish leaves behind a little spice and raisin, and goes down a bit too hot to be merely warm.
The constant downside with Hudson whiskeys is the price and size: in this instance, $45 for a half-sized, 375 ml bottle.