Thursday, March 24, 2011

The New World of White Whiskey

I've worked in several different wine shops in Connecticut over my 18 year career span as a wine manager and I thought I'd sold it all. Only until my fiancee and I opened our own specialty wine shop did I ever get any call for moonshine, white dog, white lightning, hooch, mountain dew or any other name you want to call it. 

L:Buffalo Trace White Dog, C:Tuthilltown, R:Georgia Moon

Right around the holidays I brought in a couple moonshine whiskeys just for kicks. I figured somebody would buy them as a novelty gift for their favorite whiskey enthusiast. They were relatively inexpensive so they could be sold as a supplemental gift. 

To my surprise, the customers that bought those moonshines came back and bought more for themselves. This piqued my interest. I'd only ever done a shot of moonshine in my younger days as punishment in a drinking game! Was I missing out? Was the bad memory I had of it just that, a bad memory during a period where I didn't care for whiskey? Let's open a bottle and find out.  
So many American Whiskeys to choose from.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a fan of Tuthilltowns' whiskeys. They make a Baby Bourbon that I wish I could drink every day. Limited availability and $47 for a 375ml make it an impossibility. Anyway, let's talk about their Hudson New York Corn Whiskey (HCW). It's the base of the Hudson Baby Bourbon and it's pretty damn mellow. On the nose I get buttered popcorn with hints of minerality and cornmeal. I could just smell this for hours. I don't get any of the alcohol burning my nose that I do with other spirits. 

My first sip reminds me of last summer, roasting corn on the cob, still in the husk, right on the grill. I get a little bit of mealy cornbread flavors and light sugar. This is interesting. I like it, though. It's something different and definitely an education in a glass. While sipping this I can surely imagine how the oak barrels make this into the Baby Bourbon. I bet this is going to be amazing in a cocktail.

During my research to find a cocktail to make with the HCW, I found one of their videos. Actually, I found all of them and you need to watch them, too. The video clip for the HCW seemed to have the perfect recipe for a White Manhattan. The Manhattan cocktail you usually hear of contains barrel-aged rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. A White Manhattan cocktail is typically white whiskey, Benedictine, blanc vermouth (not dry vermouth) and a few dashes of orange bitters. Tuthilltown suggests a recipe that's a little different than a regular White Manhattan. 
  • 2 parts Hudson New York Corn Whiskey
  • 1 part Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif wine) 
  • 3 dashes Orange bitters
They decided to leave out the Benedictine. I'm also using Blood Orange Bitters anyway. It's never exactly perfect in our house. We're only human, right? 

With only ever having a faint memory of having a White Manhattan, I don't remember the flavors of the drink. So, this is "new" to me. The nose is predominantly of the HCW with the sweetness and slight herbal notes of the Lillet. It's pretty neat, no pun intended. I like the flavor on the palate. The Lillet adds fruit and balance to the whiskey while the bitters add a touch of acidic tang. This cocktail is light and fun. I would be hard-pressed to say that this would be my new favorite. It's not. What it is for me would be a side step. Maybe a time warp vacation back to Prohibition where speakeasies and white whiskeys were where it was at. What's the secret password? It's "Pour.Taste.Drink."

1 comment:

  1. I am a whiskey drinker and I like Hudson but not a big fan of moonshine. I am willing to try this though. Sounds good.