Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey

"In an age of drink defined by sleek bars with house-infused vodkas and incessant techno beats, it can be difficult to comprehend a spirit that last enjoyed broad popularity back when the Ziegfeld Follies was the hottest show around. Fragrant and robust, with a character like a ragtime record played on an old Victrola, rye whiskey is a bottled anachronism. But more than 80 years after Prohibition ended rye’s moment in the spotlight, the preferred whiskey of the saloon era is re-emerging," wrote Paul Clarke in Imbibe magazine in a story called The Comeback Kid.

In the United States, "rye whiskey" is, by law, made from a mash of at least 51% rye. (The other ingredients of the mash are usually corn and malted barley.) It is distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof, and aged in charred, new oak barrels. The whiskey must be put into such barrels at not more than 125 (U.S.) proof. Rye whiskey that has been so aged for at least 2 years may be further designated as "straight", as in "straight rye whiskey".

Rye whiskey was the prevalent whiskey of the northeastern states, especially New York, Pennsylvannia and Maryland, but largely disappeared after Prohibition. A few brands survived. Rye is currently undergoing a small but growing revival in the United States.
Until Prohibition New York was known for its rye whiskey. This feisty spirit was the basis for the legendary Manhattan cocktail, made famous by Jenny Churchill (Winston’s Mum). Rye had not been produced in New York for over 80 years, but Tuthilltown Spirits’ Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey signals the return of the quintessential New York Whiskey. Their rye is made from whole grain rye one batch at a time. It is not the blended rye whiskey your parents used to mix with soda. This is honest rye whiskey.

Before Prohibition more than 1,000 farm distillers produced alcohol from New York grains and fruits. Tuthilltown distillers are bringing back traditional batch-distilled spirits.

For 220 years Tuthilltown Gristmill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, used waterpower to render local grains to flour. It is located in Gardiner, New York, just outside of New Paltz. In 2001 Ralph Erenzo and Vicki Morgan acquired the property and with the help of partner Brian Lee, they converted one of the mill granaries to a micro-distillery.The partners worked tirelessly to teach themselves the craft of small-batch distillation while navigating the legal and administrative aspects of building the company.

Two and a half years later Tuthilltown Spirits produced their first batches of vodka from scraps they collected at a local apple slicing plant. Now the distillers use fresh cider from nearby orchards. Production includes vodkas, bourbon, whiskeys, rum, eau de vie, brandy, and infusions.

In 2007 Gable Erenzo, joined the team and the distillery sent off the first international shipment to Paris. The team has continued to grow with the addition of Joel Elder, Jared Powers, and Nick Stoughton to the production team. Cathy Erenzo has come on board to manage compliance and administration. The Tuthilltown Spirits Team brings the craft of small batch spirits distilling back to New York.

Hudson Manhattan Rye is bottled at 92 proof. It is fruity, floral and smooth, with a recognizable rye edge that leaves no doubt the origin of the spirit. Each bottle is hand filled, capped, waxed and numbered.

I poured this spirit into a snifter. I love snifters, especially when I am tasting spirits or ports for the first time. Big carmel flavors, big whiffs of maple. Not as full bodied and flavorful or sweet as bourbon, but defintely a bolder flavor than single malts, this Rye has a distinctive flavor.
The other thign I did, was after the first glas, I went outside, broke up three icecicles and put them in my snifter, and had my second taste on ice. Also great!