GSN Review: Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard Gin

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The Halve Maen (or Half Moon in English) was the ship that Henry Hudson sailed from Amsterdam, Holland to what is now New York in 1609.  So, it is only fitting that New York’s Tuthilltown gin is named after the ship since the precursor of gin (genever) was first distilled in the Netherlands in the late 1500’s.  This new American styled craft gin is unusual in that it is made from a blend of 80% wheat and 20% apples.

Half Moon Orchard Gin (92 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Lemon citrus, juniper, and a somewhat evasive apple scent.
Taste: A lot of lemon flavor comes through with less herb and juniper berry following quickly behind.  Quite dry and bright with an obvious nod to the London Dry style.  Refreshing and full of flavor, and with the higher proof it is a highly mixable gin.
Finish: Long and intense with the citrus notes taking several curtain calls.
Overall: A marvelous gin for a 3-1 ratio Martini.  The flavor profile works wonders with a good quality vermouth.  There’s not a lot of complexity here, but it doesn’t need it, because it does a fine job as is.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Tuthilltown Spirits

GSN Review: Tuthilltown Bitter Frost Basement Bitters

basement-bittersIt makes sense that a distillery would make their own bitters.  After all, the Angostura company has been doing it for almost 200 years, so why not an American craft distiller?  Thus, we finally have bitters crafted by Tuthilltown Distillery located in downstate New York.  Made from unaged rye spirit, sarsaparilla, maple syrup and fourteen other herbs and spices, the bitters also benefit from aging in ex-rye barrels.  Unique and very much in the spirit of Tuthilltown’s other products.

Bitter Frost Basement Bitters (92 proof)
The rye character is a welcome change from most bitters that simply use a neutral flavored spirit.  There is a slightly sweet and spicy essence here that underlies the more herbal and spice driven characteristics.  Notes of cassia bark, allspice, and even sandalwood seem to be here.  Overall, it’s a lighter aromatic bitters than most, but at the same time this allows the individual flavors room to shine in whatever spirit they’re dashed in.  Perfect for Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, these will also find a good home in tropical drinks that call for aromatic bitters.

GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Tuthilltown Spirits

GSN Review: Tuthilltown Indigenous Vodka

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If you want to be technical, this is really an eau de vie, since it is distilled from fruit and unaged in wood.  However, it does differ in one important way.  Instead of the usual double distillation, Indigenous is triple distilled.  To arrive at the finished product, Tuthilltown Distillery (Located in New York State’s Hudson Valley) uses local apples pressed to cider and then distills this juice in a 20 plate copper pot still.

Indigenous Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Faint remnants of cider with a fruit brandy’s funkiness speak loud and clear.  There is a dark and almost brooding quality which reminds me of autumn.
Taste: Nothing like a typical grain based vodka, there is plenty of flavor here, but the apple remains subdued and fleeting.  Initially it seems somewhat fiery, but after a few sips it mellows out with some sweet notes of toffee and barley sugar.
Finish: The cider flavor comes out towards the finish in a rustic and hearty way.
Overall: An interesting experiment that will have its uses in some cocktails, but as with most eau de vies, this is best left on its own to fully appreciate the inherent character of the fruit and locale where it was harvested.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Tuthilltown Spirits

GSN Review: Tuthilltown Hudson Bourbons

Back in 2005, I was extremely pleased to learn of the first legal distillery to open in my home state since prohibition.  Located in Gardiner, New York, Tuthilltown Distillery currently makes five whiskies, two vodkas, rum, eau de vie, brandy, absinthe, and a few infusions.  Recently, I was sent four of their fine products for review.  One of them garnered a rare A+ rating from me, one of the few I’ve ever awarded a product.  Read on to find out more:

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey (92 proof) – Batch #9, Year 10.  The grains used in the mash bill are are corn, rye, wheat and malted barley.  The color is dark and golden with a hint of rusty orange.  Nose is nutty and peppery with notes of shoe leather and new bicycle tire.  The taste is complex and very spicy with high notes of rye and more subdued softer notes of sweet  corn and wheat bread.  This all makes for an amazing Sazerac cocktail.  Intense and in your face, yet very approachable and balanced.  GSN Rating: A-

Hudson Single Malt Whiskey  (92 proof) – Batch #1, Year 11.  Clover honey colored with a dark and woody nose with forest floor notes.  Flavor is quite woody with burnt charcoal coming through loud and clear.  Somewhat fiery and reminiscent of a cask strength whiskey, you will do well to water this down to a more moderate sipping strength.  In fact, watering it down brings out the more smooth and creamy notes typical in a malted barley spirit.  I think this might be even better if it were to be aged a few years longer.  As it is, each of their aged whiskies are aged for less than four years.  GSN Rating: B+

Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey  (92 proof) – Batch #6, Year 11.  Boasting a rich reddish copper color with a luscious nutty and light caramel nose.  Reminiscent of autumn and fresh roasted walnuts.  Sweet, but not overly so, with an exceptionally smooth double distillation.  The character of the grain comes through due to neither charcoal nor chill filtration.  This bourbon makes an amazing Manhattan or whiskey sour.  Bright, elegant and better tasting than many bourbons costing 2-3 times as much.  A fantastic spirit.  GSN Rating: A

Hudson New York Corn Whiskey  (92 proof) – Double distilled from corn grown less than ten miles away . Crystal clear with a sweet and fresh nose composed of elements of just picked corn husks and sweet baby corn kernels.  Rather than just fire and the often one dimensional aspects of an unaged spirit, the flavor is elegantly smooth and slightly creamy, with milk lactose and vegetal notes.  Most surprisingly, this has a complex and very long finish which goes on for a few minutes.  In my opinion, one of the truly great white dog/moonshines and worthy of an honored spot in any world class bar.  GSN Rating: A+