These Smoky Local Distilleries Craft Bold Bourbons Worth Buying
Just in time for Father’s Day, these Westchester and Hudson Valley-based craft distillers are turning out flavorful all-American spirits — quite literally by the barrel.
As much as we love mom and apple pie, there’s nothing quite as American as a glass of fine bourbon. (Sorry, but even the Dutch can also lay claim to having both of those too.)
Despite popular misconception, true bourbon can be produced anywhere in the United States — so long as it’s made from at least 51% corn and follows certain aging and proofing standards, that is.
June 14 marks National Bourbon Day on our calendars and, in the interest of celebrating this fine American holiday, we thought it the perfect opportunity to round up a few local distilleries to help you do the same. (The fact that Father’s Day is always soon after might just be a happy accident.) Let’s take a look at what you could be sipping by day’s end.
— Hometown Heroes —
This down-county distiller might be as southerly as Westchester gets, but its Legs Diamond line — named for the legendary bootlegger — includes a bourbon that’s straight out of prohibition-era Philly.
Deep and dark and full of flavor (look for some sweet honey notes), this 2019 Great American International Spirits Competition bronze medal winner is produced only from local, sustainably grown corn, wheat, and rye, and is aged 12 months before it hits your lips. ~$60; 750 ml; 80 proof
Arguably the centerpiece of StilltheOne’s whiskey line, 914 Westchester, NY Bourbon Whiskey is locally distilled, locally aged, and is made from locally-sourced ingredients to create a true bourbon that is all Westchester from top to bottom. Soft to the taste, this whiskey sports sweet honey, vanilla, and citrus notes alongside floral tones for a drink that’s excellent both mixed into a cocktail and straight-up. ~$40; 750ml; 90 proof
— Hudson Valley Mainstays —
One of the highest-rated distilleries around, Denning’s Point makes a fine, small-batch Beacon Bourbon that took home silver in the prestigious San Fransisco World Spirits Competition in 2017, and took home the — we think — equally prestigious Best of Hudson Valley award three years in a row. Former rocket scientist Karl Johnson ages this most-popular product at the distillery’s facilities a full two years to pick up all the smoky, woody notes of its casks. ~$44; 750ml; 100 proof
In terms of finishing whiskey, the late Dave Pickerell was almost universally recognized as the best in the world. After years with Marker’s Mark, Pickerell sat down for a chat with Hillrock’s Jeff Baker and ended up creating one of the finest, most flavorfully complex spirits to come out of the Hudson Valley.
Not content to simply grow, distill, age, and bottle their bourbon on-site, the “farm-to-glass” distillers adopted a solera aging method that pushes each batch older and more layered than the one before. Malty, smoky, and about as local as can be, Hillrock’s Solera Aged Bourbon is the perfect “special occasion” whiskey for your cabinet. ~$90; 750ml; 92.6 proof
Photo by Dave Zucker
Talk about symbiosis: Every year, Taconic Distillery send used bourbon barrels to Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse, who fills them with maple syrup to be aged and sold as bourbon barrel maple syrup. After a few months of aging, the barrels get sent back to Taconic, where they’re filled back up with bourbon to produce the yearly limited edition spirit dubbed Double Barrel Bourbon Maple Whiskey.
It’s smooth, buttery, and with just a hint of maple and notes of vanilla like an old-school butterscotch. ~$44; 750ml; 90 proof
Photo courtesy of Taconic Distillery
Hudson Baby Bourbon might be one of the area’s best-known bourbons, and that name sure doesn’t hurt. Named one of the 50 best whiskeys in the world by Men’s Journal, this sweet 100% corn bourbon comes from the first distiller to open in New York State since prohibition.
With tasting notes of roasted corn and marzipan, you know you’re looking at a fascinating, layered flavor experience that you’ll want to savor. ~$49.99; 750ml; 92 proof
Aged to maturity in new charred oak barrels, our signature Baby Bourbon is complex and delicious. With notes of smoky vanilla, salted caramel and orange it’s in a class of its own. . . #hudsonwhiskey #graintoglass #cocktail #tuthilltownspirits #NYdistilled #newyorkstateofmind #craftcocktail #empirestateofmind #bourbon