The Hudson Baby Bourbon review
Age: NAS (possibly only a few month old)
Classification: Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 100% corn
Price: c. £40
Additional info: Batch 13 - Bottle No. 994
They call it the 'Baby Bourbon' and they are right. The name is apt in many ways - firstly the bottle is tiny, seriously, even Mav's small lady like hands look huge holding it. Secondly there is the actual age of the bourbon, which is apparently only between 3-4 months and, thirdly, they don't use the standard size barrels to age the bourbon, instead much smaller, 2-3 gallon ones, are preferred. That's a reduction of about 50 gallons compared to those normally used. So yes 'Baby' is most certainly a clever name. There is also a rumour that the master distiller is addicted to rusks, but we're not sure on that one.
So what does all this actually mean, apart from making for a catchy name? Well it explains for one how the liquid in the bottle is so dark for such a young whiskey. The smaller the barrel the more the liquid inside has a chance to interact with it. Couple this with the fact they actually play loud dance music in the warehouse (true fact) to increase the interaction (by agitating the liquid inside the barrels) it makes the bourbon look like one that has been aged a lot longer. It also explains the choice of the bottle size, if they don't have much liquid in the barrels then there is a lot less to bottle up and ship out if they used the regular size ones.
Another unique thing about this bourbon is it's mash bill - or lack of it. Just one grain makes up the recipe here as it's 100 percent corn. For those wondering why this then isn't labelled as a 'corn whiskey' feel free to click here and read this informative (but cheeky) explanation. Will the Gents agree with the '3rd difference'? let's find out...
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – Dry, obviously corn, vanilla, raisins, creamy but very delicate and with mint (Mav)
What they say we should get - Robust vanilla, new oak warmth, popcorn and a lingering whiff of sugared almond
What we got – Corn of course, popcorn, warm, spicy, wood, ginger (Mr Pie), nuts and chocolate
What they say we should get - Marzipan and candied ginger, with a thick layer of caramel on top. A touch of rye spiciness develops.
What we got – Sticks on the tongue nicely, but the spice disappears quite quickly. Overall we would say this one goes down as a 'medium' finish
What they say we should get - Chocolate peanuts, buttered corn-on-the-cob and a light glaze of honey
So does 100% corn bourbon/whiskey suck or not? That's what you guys want to know right? Well it most certainly doesn't in our opinion, and in Mav's view in particular this is quite an excellent dram. Yes it's a very, very, different taste to your normal bourbon and that may put some off on the first try. In fact Mav himself had decided this wasn't for him the very first time he sampled it. However, give this one a chance, expect that first sip to be strange for something labelled as a 'bourbon', but stick with it and you'll find a lot to like here.
There is also a bit of an unexpected spicy kick to the dram. You will see from the experts tasting notes that they called it out as a 'touch of rye spiciness', a descriptor we find slightly puzzling as they are explaining this taste with the absence of something in the mash bill - odd indeed, but regardless there is a spice there, and it adds to the overall experience quite nicely.
While it doesn't play into the scores below, (regular readers will know that no factors outside of the liquid in the bottle affect the score), we do of course have to mention the cost to bourbon ratio. You don't get a lot for your money here, and if you end up liking it as much as Mav does then it could be a costly habit. Also it brings up the factor that it's a lot to spend on a small bottle if you don't end up taking to the 100 percent corn thing - so we highly recommend trying it in a bar or with a sample first.
7 out of 10 - Mav
5 out of 10 – Mr. Pie