Hudson Whiskey

Ralph Erenzo co-founder of Hudson Whiskey and Tony Vanaria, Global Ambassador visited Sydney for an intimate tasting of their range of whiskies.

Hudson Whiskey is the first distillery in New York City in 80 years. Located 1.5 hours north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley, the company founded by Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee went from humble beginnings to its first export to Maison de Whisky in Paris.

Hudson Whiskey
L-R: Ralph Erenzo, Tony Vanaria

A professional rock climber, Ralph Erenzo is one of the top ten pioneers of the local craft spirit movement in USA, having successfully lobbied for the government to reduce the licence costs from the Prohibition times from $65,000 to $1,500 in the first three years – drawing parallels with Australia’s own whisky godfather, Bill Lark of Tasmania’s Lark Distillery. Since 2008, 60 more distilleries opened in New York. He later lobbied for another change in law to allow tasting rooms at their Tuthilltown Spirits distillery where they could sell to consumers, and the distillery henceforth became a destination.

All Hudson whiskies come in 375ml bottles as the first bottling didn’t have enough spirit to fill larger bottles and as the response to the bottle was positive, they kept it. All are bottled at 46% ABV, are non-chill filtered, non-charcoal filtered, hand numbered bottles, waxed by hand with Hudson logo embossed into glass.

At Hudson, sonic maturation is used to accelerate the ageing process where the barrels are agitated with sound waves from bass speakers instead of physically rolling each barrel.

Hudson Whiskey
Hudson Whiskey

Four whiskeys were available to taste, two of which are not available on the Australian market.

Hudson Baby Bourbon is made from 100% Empire State corn, sourced within ten miles of Tuthilltown Distillers. The whisky is matured in small charred new American oak barrels which, due to more contact with wood, makes the spirit full-flavoured, rich with strong notes of caramel, corn and vanilla.

Hudson Manhattan Rye is made from 100% rye grown locally using single fermentation. A dryer style than the baby Bourbon, the Manhattan Rye is bold and vibrant with loads of spice and caramel and makes for fine sipping neat.

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon is the first pot-distilled whiskey to be produced in New York’s Hudson Valley since Prohibition. “With Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, we started with a three grain whiskey, and it tasted like everyone else’s,” Ralph said. Made from 60% corn, 25% rye, 10% wheat and 5% barley using grain from within then miles of the distillery, the grain mixture is ground, fermented and distilled together then aged between 2 to 4 years. This is a very smooth, well rounded whisky with a great balance of flavours from the four grains.

Hudson Single Malt is the first single malt to be distilled in the Hudson Valley. Made from 100% malted barley from Canada, it is pot distilled in one small batch then aged in charred new American oak from Kentucky and Missouri. This is a single malt that bears no similarities in flavour profile to its Scottish counterpart. “We’re not trying to duplicate unpeated malted barley,” Tony Vanaria told Gourmantic. “We take a narrow cut, the heart of the run and the wood gives it sweetness from the vanillins in the oak.” The new American oak and the charred finish give it the characteristic sweetness of bourbon, along with vanilla notes and barley. Not the favourite whiskey on taste but it has its own appeal.

Hudson Baby Bourbon and Manhattan Rye are currently available in Australia. We hope that the Hudson Four Grain Bourbon will soon be seen in bars and retail outlets.

The Hudson Whiskey tasting was held on Monday 13 October 2014 at The Commons in Darlinghurst.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.