It’s always fun to do blind tastings, and I had the opportunity to try this American rye in that manner.
Concentrating first on the nose, it offered up just a hint of oak and a delicate, grainy aroma.
On the palate it was also quite smooth, with the grain just teasing the tastebuds. My fellow drinkers had a go, and the smoothness tempted us to go with an Irish, but the oak was more pronounced than would be expected, but not to the level that would suggest a bourbon sitting in virgin oak for several years. And the flavor was not malty enough, but could it be hiding behind the higher than standard alcohol content? Talking through it some more, ideas swung towards the American side of the pond. It had some bourbon thoughts (caramel, vanilla) but no hints of corn.
I will admit that the oak flavor was the most perplexing part of the flavor profile. It had the sharp, saw-dust character you’d expect from a virgin cask, but it was not as pronounced as it should be.
Once the culprit was revealed it all made sense, of course. Hudson uses whole-grain rye, giving the rye a fuller character than some other rye whiskeys. A little sweeter, mellowing out to give some caramel and vanilla flavors. The Manhattan is aged “less than four” years in virgin small barrels. This is where the unique oak flavor comes from. The small barrels give more contact with the contents, infusing the oak quicker into the whiskey, but the shorter time keeps it from becoming sharper.
An enjoyable experience with a rewarding dram. One of the better ryes out there.
92° proof; $50/bottle (375mL)