Tuthilltown Spirits

The distillery name may not be known to most, but they are the great folks that bring us the Hudson Whiskey brand.

Tuthilltown Spirits Farm Distillery is New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition. Before prohibition New York farms had a rich history of providing local grains and fruits to many farm distilleries. In 2005 Tuthilltown Spirits thought it had been long enough and brought the tradition of crafting small batch spirits back to the Hudson Valley!

Today Tuthilltown prides themselves on pulling ingredients from local sources and producing their spirits in a sustainable way. True farm to bottle crafting. The grains they use for their highly awarded Hudson whiskey comes from a farm less than 10 miles and the apples they use for their vodka comes from less than 5 miles away. All of this happening in a 220 year old Gristmill that used water power to render local grains into flour. That Gristmill is a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A whiskey distillery is long way from what the owners originally wanted, which was a rock climbing ranch! I would say that decision paid off ten fold, seeing that in 2010 the Hudson craft whiskey line was bought by the whisky giant William Grant & Sons. In more recent years William Grant acquired the whole Tuthilltown spirit making machine!

Their current line up of spirits include:

5 Great Affordable Whiskies

Not all whisky has to make a dent in your wallet for it to be good. Too many people are under the assumption that you have to pay a lot to get a quality whisk(e)y. That’s not the case. We’ve put together a small list of whiskies that you can pick up if you don’t want to spend too much. We’ll stick to a price tag under £40.

Edradour 10 Year Old – £38.95

One of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, Edradour is tucked away in the hills of Pitlochry. Their whisky output is such a small fraction of most of the other distilleries. This 10 year old bottling is a great offering from the southern Highlands and at a great price point. Quite soft with notes of toasted cereals and rich fruits. A very easy dram.

Talisker 10 Year Old – £36.89

Want a bit of that coastal flare? Grab a bottle of this whisky from the only distillery on the Isle of Skye! Part of Diageo’s Classic Malts Collection, this dram gives you a true taste of the elements. Wonderful notes of smoked meats, maritime saltiness, and candied fruits.

Teeling Small Batch – £36.95

I wanted to throw an Irish in here just because we are big fans of Teeling! This is an excellent blend if you want to make a move away from Jameson. Using ex-rum casks to finish off the maturation, you get an undoubtedly tasty sweetness. Lovely caramel apple flavours with an easy smoothness.

Springbank 10 Year Old – £39.99

Easily one of my favourite distilleries. Based on Campbeltown, Springbank are still a family run distillery that does every bit of the whisky making process in house! Not many can say that these days. This 10 year old is rich and full toasted malt flavours with tangy fruit notes. The slight and perfect amount of peat gently passes over the tongue.

Tomatin Legacy – £25.95

This wonderful bottling from an equally wonderful distillery, was bottled to pay homage to the dedicated community that is at the heart of the distillery. As part of it’s legacy, Tomatin remains one of the only distilleries that provides a home for it’s craftsmen. Flavours of vanilla cake, crisp citrus and a piney freshness.

Flor de Caña

Easily one of our favourite rum distilleries to grace this fine planet. Flor de Caña puts out some incredibly tasty rums across the board and have been recognized around the world for it. While yes, there are SO many rums out there to get through, Flor de Caña will always be a constant on my shelf.

These days pretty much anyone can create rum, in most parts of the world, if they so desired. Though you’d be hard pressed to find a rum with as much stature and dedication to the community around them as Flor de Caña.

Established in 1890 at the base of one of the largest volcanos in Nicaragua, Flor de Caña have been creating super premium rum for 130 years! Throughout this long and sometimes rough history, they have been able to remain a family run business for 5 generations!

Not only are they rooted in this great history, the company is committed to running a truly sustainable distillery. They didn’t just do this to be trendy, it is something they believe in. Their spirit has been 100% distilled with renewable energy for over 10 years, and they have planted 50,000 trees a year since 2005. Even more impressive is that Flor de Caña has provided free schooling for the employee’s children since 1913, and since 1958 offered free healthcare at the company hospital. So not only do they care about the environment around them, they also strive to invest in their workers and the community. The distillery is also one of just a few spirit companies to adopt the Fair Trade practices.

Flor de Caña has taken so many different awards over the years. Not limited to: “Worlds Best Rum Distillery”, “Global Rum Producer of the Year”, and “#1 Rum on the Planet”. You know you will be getting something truly delicious

All the rums are truly natural from the field to the bottle. Naturally aged in premium white oak bourbon barrels sealed with Nicaraguan plantain leaves. All of their rums are matured without artificial ingredients and no added sugar content. Not many large rum companies promise that.

The Luxury Collection includes the 25 year old and is their finest full body sipping rum. The Ultra Premium Collection includes the exceptionally smooth 12 and 18 year olds. The 7 year olds fall in the Super Premium Collection and are balanced, full-bodied rums perfect for high end cocktails. The Premium Collection are young and light rums great for classic coctails.

Make sure to give this awesome brand a try if you have not already!

Octomore 10.4

We have received our long awaited shipment of the Octomore 10.4 release.

Most of us here are big fans of the heavily peated whiskies, and you can’t talk peated without mentioning Octomore! This one is a bit more out of the norm being the youngest ever released at 3 years! Don’t let that put you off. They have managed to give some great depth and balance in 3 years that some can’t do in 10. The Scottish barley and Virgin Oak used in this one really works. There have definitely been Octomore releases that have been misses for me, but this one is more in the hit column. While by no means is my favourite release, I am still happy with the outcome.

Great earthy flavours of smoked wood chips used for BBQs and warming apple cider feelings. Dry with a citrus vanilla swirl in there!

Here are some 10.4 facts from Bruichladdich:

– MALTED TO 88PPM
– DISTILLED IN 2016 FROM THE 2015 HARVEST OF CONCERTO BARLEY
– 100% SCOTTISH BARLEY
– MATURED ENTIRELY ON ISLAY FOR THREE YEARS
– FULL TERM FRENCH VIRGIN OAK MATURATION
– BOTTLED UNCHILL-FILTERED AND COLOURING FREE AT BRUICHLADDICH DISTILLERY, 63.5% ALC. / VOL
– LIMITED TO 12,000 BOTTLES

Grab a bottle for yourself! RIGHT HERE!

WhistlePig Distillery

If you are not already aware of the WhistlePig Distillery, we are here to help you with that! Transforming from a Vermont dairy farm into rye whiskey making powerhouse is not the normal distillery story, but it is one of the things that makes them special!

The distillery’s dream was to make WhistlePig a leader in bringing genuine rye whiskey back to the forefront of the American whiskey market. Their whiskey making journey started by buying up stock of a 10 year old Canadian blending whiskey, that they believe wasn’t being utilized properly. From there, the vision of WhistlePig was to become a distillery that handles all aspects of the whiskey making process. From growing the grain on the farm to bottling in-house, that was achieved!

They are using their 500+ acre farm in Vermont to experiment and produce some of the best rye whiskies you’ll be able to enjoy! And this isn’t one of those farms some companies use for marketing purposes, it is a fully working farm with a multitude of animals calling WhistlePig home. They even have 20 acres of maple trees that they tap for syrup. *Side note: Vermont maple syrup is delicious!

The way they look at improving and making their whiskey better, is how all companies should approach their own products. A lot can be said about how they strive to be better.

With every step of the Whiskey making process we ask ourselves 3 questions:

“How was this done in the past?”

“Have we learned anything since then that can make this better?”

“Is there another way to do this that’s worth exploring?”

More often than not the answer is there’s always something worth exploring. We know the path forward isn’t always a straight line. So we push ourselves to innovate and we’re reassured by our mistakes. They’re what keep us great.”

Their whiskies include:

  • 10 year old – 100 proof
  • 12 year old – Finished in old world wine casks
  • 15 year old – Finished in Vermont estate oak
  • Farmstock – Made from their grain, wood, and water
  • PiggyBack – 100% Rye and 96.56 Proof
  • 18 year old – 79% rye, 15% malted rye, 6% malted barley
  • Boss Hog – Single Barrel, Barrel strength, and Finished in Umeshu Barrels

Made up Drink List for a Made Up Holiday

We’ve put together a random list of drinks for you to enjoy alone or with that special someone on the 14th of February. If you’re not into this overly pink and red holiday coming up, maybe this list can help you see a bottle of something new! So we all brainstormed some ideas of what we may want to drink on that romantically charged holiday. Some of these will suit the day perfectly and others might be a stretch, but they will all go down well!

Mermaid Pink Gin

Yes, it’s on the list because it is pink! This gin from the Isle of Wight Distillery doesn’t just fit the aesthetic, it is an refreshingly delicious gin. Infused with fresh island strawberries, Mermaid is an incredibly aromatic and smooth with complex citrus flavours.

Stalla Dhu Saorsa

This may not have anything to do with V-Day but there is always a good time for our very own independent bottling, Saorsa. This Speyside single malt was aged in sherry butts and offers peppery notes with heaps of fresh forest fruits. Exclusive to us, you are getting something truly unique.

Two Birds Gin Gift Pack

When one’s not enough, get two! This pack of two gins is a great little gift to enjoy together. Inside you’ll find one London Dry Gin and one of their specialty cocktail gins. Wonderful traditional dry taste with a bold kick. Something to get your night started off right.

Liverpool Rose Pedal Gin

What’s this holiday without some roses?! We’ll stick with the alcoholic variation instead. Produced in small batches, Liverpool Gin is 100% organic and this bottle is crafted with rose pedals as one of the key botanicals. Beautifully delicate and fragrant with soft floral notes.

Blanton’s Gold

A little bit of gold seems like a good gift for Valentine’s Day! Most definitely one of the greatest bourbons ever crafted! Hand bottled from the best casks Blanton’s distillery has to offer. What makes this even more special, this a bourbon that is not regularly available in the US. A very full flavoured and complex drink with wonderful rich honeyed fruit flavours.

6 Great Whisk(e)y Distilleries to Visit

We all may enjoy having a dram from the comfort of our own home or favourite watering hole, but how about at the source?! Whether you you want to make a specific whisk(e)y focused trip or just find a nice addition to your travel experience, you’re in luck. We have put together a small list of distilleries around the world that would definitely make for a good time!

Nikka’s Yoichi Distillery. Hokkaido, Japan.

While I don’t believe you could go wrong visiting any of the distilleries in Japan, Yoichi would be a personal favourite. Having been built in 1934 after leaving Yamazaki, Masataka Taketsuru wanted to emulate the Scottish distilleries he loved so much. So in true Scottish fashion, he built Yoichi up north nestled between the mountain and the sea. Coal fired pot stills creates whisky with those similar seaside flavours and slight pettiness that a lot of people love from Scotland. Grab a tour and take in the beautiful surroundings. The love of whisky transcends the language barrier!

High Coast Distillery. Kramfors, Sweden.

If you are in or planning a trip to Sweden, take a trip up to High Coast Distillery (formally Box Distillery). Opened in 2010 on the Ångermanälven river in and old wooden box factory, they have already been producing some great whiskies. Producing both peated and un-peated malts, you can take one good look at this company and see that they put their hearts into producing the best product they can! They have a visitor center, restaurant and whisky bar for those that are looking for a whisky adventure.

Blair Athol Distillery. Pitlochry, Scotland.

No whisky distillery list can have Scotland missing from it. There are so many great distilleries in Scotland that it warrants a trip just for them! With that in mind, we decided to just stick a couple on the list. Blair Athol sits in the beautiful town of Pitlochry and is the self-proclaimed “gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Anybody wanting a true Scottish experience will not be disappointed. A beautiful distillery with an equally gorgeous surrounding. They offer plenty of tours ranging from £9 to £250 all day experiences.

High West Distillery. Wanship, Utah.

Now we’re heading all the way over to the Wild West in Utah! A truly unique distillery for sure, it is the first legally licensed distillery in Utah since 1870! Founded by a former biochemist with a love for the old west and made famous by their different blend creations. They also produce their own high quality spirits at the 25,000 square foot compound. Tours of the beautiful distillery are available as well as an accompanying saloon in Old Town Park City. A must for anyone that has a love for the old west and good whiskey.

Highland Park Distillery. Orkney Islands, Scotland.

For those feeling adventurous and want to get away from the normal Scottish whisky trails of the Scottish Mainland, this one’s for you. Visiting this Viking Homeland has always been at the top of my list; it’s fierce and remote, rooted in great Nordic/Scottish history, once ruled by Viking Kings. Pack accordingly and just prepare for some awe-inspiring surroundings. Warm up with some of Highland Park’s delicious whiskies while on one of their tour options!

Woodford Reserve. Versailles, Kentucky.

With bourbon being beloved all over the world, we couldn’t make this list without a bourbon distillery! Sitting right in the heart of bourbon country, Woodford creates a wonderful small batch straight Kentucky bourbon. Sitting on Kentucky’s oldest distilling sites where Elijah Pepper started crafting whisky in 1812, Woodford is a registered historic site. If you are a bourbon fan, you won’t be disappointed with a visit here. Also, nothing is stopping you from continuing on the bourbon trail to the many other distilleries in the area!

While this list is not an end all be all list, it is one to put ideas in your head! There are plenty of distilleries in this world that will suit many different people with a variety of tastes. We just compiled a small list of places that sounded great to us!

2020 Whisky Bible Winners

That time of the year again where one man’s dedication to trying whisk(e)y comes in the form of The Whisky Bible. Weather you agree with him or not, Jim Murray has built a very big brand on trying endless amounts of whisky and publishing his findings for all to see. It’s good fun reading through it and coming across sometimes amusing anecdotes about his experience with certain whiskies. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be taken as gospel, just enjoy it for what it is…one man’s opinion and his journey through the whisk(e)y world.

Kentucky is the definitive winner here! This year the top 3 spots have been awarded to all American whiskies! Not only that, but all from the Sazerac company.

2020 World Whisky of the Year
1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Second Finest Whisky in the World
William Larue Weller 125.7 Proof

Third Finest Whisky in the World
Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 128.8 Proof

The 1792 being crafted in the Barton 1792 distillery, while both the William Larue and Thomas Handy are produced at Buffalo Trace.

“To not only be named World Whisky of the Year but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” said Mark Brown, Sazerac president. “We could not be happier or more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

The team here at Whisky Merchant happen to think these 3 whiskies are, in fact, delicious! If they should have the top 3 spots or not, that’s for you to decide. I couldn’t number my top 3 favourite bottles, because like most other things, it just comes down to the mood I am in!

Have a gander at the list of other winners and see how it compares to your tastes!

Single Cask of the Year
Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask

  • SCOTCH
  • Scotch Whisky of the Year: Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1
    Scotch Blend of the Year: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
    Scotch Grain of the Year: The Last Drop Dumbarton 1977
    Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year: Glen Castle Blended Malt 1990
    Single Malt Scotch No Age Statement: Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven
    10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 10 Years
    10 Years & Under (Single Cask): Annandale Man O’ Sword
    11-15 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 15 Years Batch Strength
    11-15 Years (Single Cask): Signatory Vintage Edradour Ballechin 12 Year Old
    16-21 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    16-21 Years (Single Cask): Whisky Castle Glen Spey Aged 21 Years
    22-27 Years (Multiple Casks): Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1996
    22-27 Years (Single Cask): The Whisky Shop Glendronach Aged 26 Years
    28-34 Years (Multiple Casks): Ben Nevis 32 Years Old 1966
    28-34 Years (Single Cask): Gordon & MacPhail Inverleven 1985
    35-40 Years (Multiple Casks): Port Ellen 39 Years Old
    35-40 Years (Single Cask): Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1978 W18
    41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks): Glen Scotia 45 Year Old
    41 Years & Over (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1
  • BLENDED SCOTCH

    No Age Statement (Standard): Ballantine’s Finest
    No Age Statement (Premium): Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare
    5-12 Years: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Years Old
    13-18 Years: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
    19 – 25 Years: Dewar’s Aged 25 Years The Signature
    26 – 50 Years: The Last Drop 56 Year Old Blend

    IRISH WHISKEY

    Irish Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
    Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
    Irish Single Malt of the Year: Bushmills Aged 21 Years
    Irish Blend of the Year: Jameson
    Irish Single Cask of the Year: Kinahan’s Special Release Project 11 Year Old

    AMERICAN WHISKEY

    Bourbon of the Year: 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    Rye of the Year: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
    US Micro Whisky of the Year: Garrison Brothers Balmorhea
    US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up): 291 Barrel Proof Colorado Whiskey Aged 2 Years

    BOURBON

    No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels): 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    No Age Statement (Single Barrel): Colonel E H Taylor Single Barrel Bottled In Bond
    9 Years & Under: Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel
    10 – 12 Years: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Aged 12 Years
    11 – 15 Years: Pappy Van Winkle 15 Years Old
    16 – 20 Years: Michter’s 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    21 Years & Over: Pappy Van Winkle 23 Years Old

    RYE

    No Age Statement: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
    Up to 10 Years: Knob Creek Cask Strength
    11-15 Years: Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Years Old
    Over 15 Years: Sazerac 18 Years Old
    Single Cask: Knob Creek Single Barrel Select

    CANADIAN WHISKY

    Canadian Whisky of the Year: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

    JAPANESE WHISKY

    Japanese Whisky of the Year: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
    Single Malt of the Year (MB): The Matsui Mizunara Cask

    EUROPEAN WHISKY

    European Whisky of the Year (Multiple): Thy Whisky No. 9 Bøg Single Malt (Denmark)
    European Whisky of the Year (Single): Penderyn Single Cask no. M75-32 (Wales)

    WORLD WHISKIES

    Asian Whisky of the Year: Nantou Distillery Omar Bourbon Cask no.11140804 (Taiwan)
    Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year: Bakery Hill Peated Malt Cask Strength (Australia)

    Westland Whiskey

    We just received a couple bottlings from Seattle’s Westland Distillery. They were awarded Craft Producer of the Year by Icons of Whisky in 2016 and Master Distiller/Blender of the Year in 2018. They are passionate about creating authentic American single malts, and establishing a unique cultural identity. They have no desire replicate or copy Scotch.

    Even though they have been around for a little while, they are new to us. The team here always enjoys receiving out the ordinary bottles! Once we are able to crack some open, we will report back. This may also add to the list of excuses to visit Seattle!!

    In the meantime, grab a bottle and try for yourself!

    American Oak: http://bit.ly/2Vccdnq

    The distillery’s flagship whiskey and a part of their core range. Combining their signature five-malt barley bill and brand new American oak casks, they are creating something truly their own! Like Scotland pulls styles from their regions, this American Oak is a true reflection of the Pacific Northwest!

    NOSE: Lemon and orange custard, waffle cone, crème brûlée, chocolate custard, jasmine.
    PALATE: Rich fruit, Rainier cherries, Swiss chocolate, almond, bananas, cream, Turkish coffee.

    Sherry Wood: http://bit.ly/2IlRhoS

    Created in Scottish fashion. Using their five-malt spirit, they fill hogsheads and butts sourced from the same regions that Scotland acquires theirs. Westland does something more unusual and has their sherry casks shipped whole. They say it creates a much more vibrant sherry character, but still allows the barley notes to shine through!

    Nose: Honey-dipped oatmeal raisin cookies, maple syrup, banana pancakes. 
    Palate:
     Kiwi, maple syrup, raisins, sweet cookies, pastries, stewed yellow fruits. “

    International Wine and Spirits Competition Winners

    All of us here are super pleased and proud that a few of our bottlings have taken home awards at this years IWSC!

    As a company, we take great pride in bringing our customers the best products we can. So when we are sampling different casks to potentially be able to mature and bottle, we take great care in choosing something special! To be able to enter our carefully chosen whiskies in these competitions and take home awards just motivates us to bring our customers more! It makes us extremely happy when the outside world tastes and enjoys our offerings!

    As much as we love our bottlings…we don’t want to be the only ones drinking them!! Please, share a glass with us!

    Bellow is a bit about our Stalla Dhu range if you are not familiar:

    STALLA DHU

    A rare collection of small batch and single cask malts from Scotland’s finest distilleries.

    First and second generation members of our family of independent bottlers carefully select the whiskies showing particular promise.

    We begin by managing the wood and continue by housing the environment and casks that best affect the ageing to achieve the unique results we strive for.

    We let the whisky slumber till the time is right and then select the correct ABV to bring a very special wee dram to you.

    The following took home awards :

    Stalla Dhu Speyside 40% – Silver 2019

    Stalla Dhu Single Cask Saorsa Single Malt – Bronze 2019

    Stalla Dhu Auchroisk 1997 19 YO 47% Single Malt – Bronze 2019

    Stalla Dhu Single Cask Ardmore 60.5% Single Malt – Silver 2019

    Many thanks to all of you whisky lovers out there! Click on the photos to purchase any of the bottles or just peruse through our huge selection of other spirits!

    Have a wonderful weekend!