Friday, April 11, 2008

Hudson Bourbon

Can you believe that it took 70 years after the repeal of Prohibition for someone to start distilling spirits again in New York State? There were over 12,000 distilleries operating in NY before prohibition, so it must have made some money. Why did they stop? Well someone finally started again. Who are these visionaries? Tuthilltown Spirits located on a historic grist mill site upstate in Gardiner, NY. Last year I had the pleasure of attending a tasting with a representative of the distillers.

The founders originally planned to use the site as a camping ground for the local hippies climbing the nearby Shawangunks. But when the town put the kibosh on that, they decided to give a big "screw you" to the town and start making booze instead. They started with corn whiskey; good ole White lightening or Moonshine. But this is not something from Uncle Jessie's bathtub. Its actually quite smooth on the tongue and tastes of fresh corn off the cobb. But they really hit their stride when they stared experimenting with Baby Bourbons.

How can it be a Bourbon? Well the Federal laws have changed many times, but basically what classifies a Bourbon is the it has to be at least 51% corn distilled and aged in new charred oak barrels. Tuthilltown uses little 5 gallon barrels, thus cutting down on the aging time and making them petite and cute, like a baby! And since they use 100% corn, the flavor is really mellow and not as sweet as some other young Kentucky bourbons. My first purchase of this liquid gold was the Manhattan Rye, so I could make true Manhattans. New York used to be famous for its Rye, thus birthing the classic drink.

They are playing around even more now creating a Single Malt, a Four Grain, Hudson River Rum and even a Vodka made from Hudson Valley apples.

Last night at Perilla, I had the pleasure of tasting the Four Grain Bourbon, bringing together the wonderful taste of Corn, Rye, Wheat and Malted Barley. The smell coming off the glass was light on the alcohol, a surprise since that is all it is. But the taste...oh the taste. Each of the four grains travel across the palette and lingers long after it passes into my happy belly. I am so happy for great restaurants like Perilla, whose bar looks like mine at home, for allowing me to sample some very finely selected liquor.

This Bourbon is not cheap, but if I was feeling adventurous and crazy (as I often do) I think the sweet maltiness of this bourbon make it a prime candidate for a Bourbon Milkshake. I am a sucker for malts and prefer them to classic shakes anyway.

This recipe is a twist on the original by Mr. Brian Karp, owner and chef behind the delicious Press 195, who is also famous for using local Hudson Valley and Catskill grown ingredients. Maybe Harold from Perilla can serve it on the side of one of his desserts in those precious little glasses.

Four Grain Bourbon MaltShake
Perilla's Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuthilltown Four Grain Bourbon
New York State pure Maple Syrup (The Pelham's, natch)
Fresh Milk
Malted Milk
Vanilla Bean

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