The Oldest, and Best, Bottle of Craft Whiskey Yet Just Launched by an Upstart

The Oldest, and Best, Bottle of Craft Whiskey Yet Just Launched by an Upstart
Courtesy of Hudson Whiskey

Four Part Harmony by Hudson Whiskey reviewed. 

A craft whiskey movement in the United States has come a long way since it was first born two decades ago. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, there are now nearly 2,000 craft distilleries operating in the US. While there are a number of new craft whiskies out there, there are also many that have been around for a decade or more. One of the older ones is Hudson Whiskey, which is made at the Hudson Valley's Tuthilltown Distillery.

There is no doubt that Tuthilltown has been around since 2003, and is now owned by Scottish drinks company William Grant & Sons, thereby invalidating the mostly subjective "craft" label. The distillery is still very much in line with what most people think of as a craft operation, however, when you visit the distillery, you will discover that it is still very much a craft operation. Hudson Whiskey has recently announced its oldest whiskey of all time, and the first one to be dated to date.

There is generally a much younger age at which whiskey is released in small operations than it is in larger corporations. It's a matter of financials—the longer it takes to release a product, the longer it will take to make money off it. Craft distilleries often age their whiskey in smaller barrels for less than two years, so that's usually the path they take. It has been observed that, while these distilleries' creativity and chutzpah are admirable, sometimes their liquid doesn't measure up to an aged Kentucky bourbon. There are notable exceptions to this, however.

It is in the past few years that craft whiskey has literally come of age, with producers releasing whiskey that has aged for six or even longer periods of time. It is for this reason that Hudson Whiskey has released its Four Part Harmony, a four-grain bourbon aged for seven years. This whiskey has a mash bill of sixty percent corn, fifteen percent rye, fifteen percent wheat and ten percent malted barley. Back in 2010, a four-grain bourbon was available in limited quantities in 2010, but at a much younger age. In conjunction with this release, the whiskeys are also being rebranded, with a new bottle design and names reflecting the city's unique personality, such as Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, and Do The Rye Thing.

Compared to the Hudson Whiskey products that I have tested thus far, this is the best one I have tried, but don't expect something similar to Kentucky bourbon (which, remember, it isn't). In the nose, there are strong notes of grain and fruit, while on the palate, you will find spiced orange, vanilla, red apples, cinnamon and honey notes. In terms of the finish, it is long and hot, which makes it a bit more intense than you would expect at 92 proof, but it is still not unappealing. There are a number of bitter notes on the palette after just a few sips, such as licorice, tobacco, and some grains of paradise, which give this whiskey its own unique character.

Although this isn't the kind of whiskey I would reach for on a random night, it is quite interesting to taste within the context of Hudson Whiskey's history. Just remember that older whiskey isn't necessarily better whiskey. In fact, as these smaller craft distilleries gain more aged stock and are able to afford to wait for the whiskey to mature, you will find that they are bottling more refined whiskeys with less woody notes from the beginning. There is no doubt that this is the case with this new, distinctive four-grain bourbon from an established distillery.

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