High West Distillery of Park City, Utah is known throughout the country for being on the forefront of the craft whiskey movement. Whiskey Advocate recently acknowledged the brand’s success, comparing it favorably to Balcones, Hudson, and McCarthy’s. We previously reviewed High West’s Double Rye, giving it a five. Son of Bourye is a blend of five year bourbon, three year rye, and ten to sixteen year barley. High West cleverly uses a jackalope, a mythical cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, as its mascot for the Son of Bourye (a cross between bourbon and rye) brand.
Color: Pumpkin bronze
Aroma: Pine and mint with distinct sweet rye aroma.
Palate: Palate delivered nicely on taste. Mint and pine flavors mixed nicely with the sweetness and spice of the blend.
Michael: I actually thought this was one of the better blends we’ve tried. Although it still receives the same grade as the Double Rye — whereas the Double Rye was barely a five the Son of Bourye is nearly a six. Craft whiskeys, because they come at a price premium, are not marketed with mixed drinks in mind but I think the pine flavor in the High West brands is perfect for mixed drinks, especially as we begin thinking about Christmas (or is it Advent?) trees and parties. In particular, this would be the perfect base for a Mississippi Mud.
Andrew: There’s a lot going on in this whiskey: sweet caramel, honey, citrus, cloves, and evergreen aromas, to name a few. But that might be part of what’s wrong with it. The balance between these flavors is off, and the result is just a so-so blend.
Verdict: Mars, the 5th level of Paradiso.
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
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.