All posts tagged Balvenie

Bourbon Review: Hudson Baby Bourbon

Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey

Hudson Baby Bourbon is the first bourbon whiskey to be distilled in New York, Michael’s home state, since prohibition.  Hudson uses 100% New York-grown corn and small American oak barrels to create an extremely smooth sipping bourbon which remains close to the drink’s classic identifying features, vanilla and caramel.  Like many craft distillery operations, the economics of whiskey making has incentivized the Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery to become something of a jack-of-all-trades.  Tuthilltown now produces a range of products from classic whiskeys to gins and vodkas made using New York apples.

The craft operation was so successful that the William Grant & Sons company, owners of Glenfiddich and Balvenie, bought Hudson a mere four years after it opened its doors.  At the time, the move was seen as providing Hudson with the additional capital necessary to ramp up production.

Type: New York Bourbon
Aged: Unknown
Proof: 96
MSRP: $45 (375ml)

Color: Medium bronze
Aroma: Sweet caramel with strong vanilla and light oak aroma; upon opening a light spice and heavier vanilla
Pallet: Buttery caramel on the initial taste and clear spice on the finish.  Middle taste is highly complex, with a combination of light nutty, citrus, and salt flavors

Michael: I want to start by saying that this is a very good sipping whiskey.  That said, I don’t think I can recommend a whiskey I would never personally buy.  The price point is simply absurdly high for what is — at best, a half-step up from a normal, medium quality American bourbon.  At this price point why would you not go with Buffalo Trace or Balcones?  The craft whiskey market has brought new and interesting brands to the American market, but they come at a price premium.  When the price premium outweighs the uptick in quality I think you end up with what we have here.

Andrew: When I tried the Hudson my first thought was, “this is what a bourbon should be”.  The aroma and flavors are incredibly rich.  Definitely a good sipping bourbon.

Verdict: Saturn, the 7th level of Paradiso.

Scotch Review: Balvenie DoubleWood Twelve Year

Balvenie DoubleWood

Balvenie traces its Dufftown roots back to the 1800s.  William Grant, the father of the brand, worked as a herdsman, shoemaker, and clerk before trying his hand at whisky.  The brand is known for using its own malt, and impressive feat considering that no other Speyside has committed to malting its own grain.

“The Balvenie DoubleWood is a 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types. Over the period of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt ~ the traditional casks soften and add character, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.”

My wife and I spied the Balvenie distillery by accident while we were touring Speyside.  I passed it once and would have again if I hadn’t jumped on the breaks and made a hard right turn.  Balvenie is situated in the heart of Speyside, right next to Glenfiddich, the brand’s owners.  Whereas Glenfiddich stands as a testament to the commercialization and branding of Scotch, Balvenie was quiet, closed to visitor access, and had a small, unassuming visitor’s parking lot which could fit maybe ten cars.  You would never know by looking at the neighboring facilities which produced the vastly superior whisky.

Type: Speyside Scotch
Aged: 12 Years
Proof: 86
MSRP: $54

Color: Dark gold
Aroma: Vanilla, honey, and slight hints of sherry.  Floral, nutty, and spicy tones become more prevalent upon opening.
Pallet: Cooling, sweet start, with vanilla and spicy notes carrying over nicely from nose.  Complex flavor with smooth, medium finish.

Michael:  This is unquestionably an extremely solid Scotch, albeit one without the bells and whistles that so many whisky drinkers enjoy.  You’ve heard of the hermeneutic of continuity and today I introduce you to the hermeneutic of Scotch.  To appreciate a Scotch with bells and whistles — to really be able to tell whether it is just plain crazy or intriguingly brilliant — you have to understand what a good, base Scotch tastes like.  Balvenie is that Scotch.  It encompasses what it means “to be” a Speyside Scotch and serves as a baseline for what other Speysides should taste like.

Andrew: This Balvenie was exceptionally smooth and enjoyable, even if not particularly interesting. I thought it was a solid whisky, though, and I’m definitely interested in trying some of the distillery’s other single malts.

Verdict: Saturn, the 7th level of Paradiso.