A pioneer of the American craft whiskey movement, Hudson Whiskey reaffirms its place as the spirit of New York with a bold reinvention. In the same way New York continues to evolve and grow, Hudson Whiskey now features more mature liquid with the same bold character, carried through in the taste, the look and the new names, all evoking the attitude that makes New York unlike any other place in the world. From the majestic views of the Hudson Valley to the bright lights of Broadway, Hudson Whiskey is a celebration of that spirit and the brilliant, creative and resilient people who call New York home. The Hudson Whiskey portfolio proudly boasts Bright Lights, Big Bourbon and Do The Rye Thing, its reinvented flagship bourbon and rye offerings. Alongside these flagship variants, Hudson Whiskey has reimagined a perennial favorite, Maple Cask Rye, into Short Stack, a straight rye whiskey finished in maple syrup casks, and introduces Back Room Deal, a straight rye whiskey finished in peated Scotch barrels and the first innovation from the brand in seven years.
Hudson Whiskey started out like many New York stories, with a daring proposition, in this case, to make New York State’s first bourbon ever and to open the first distillery in the state since prohibition. The journey was not easy. In 2003, antiquated rules and regulations posed numerous challenges to a fledgling whiskey distiller, but founder Ralph Erenzo had a dream and the fortitude to make it a reality. By challenging the government to change the laws for craft distillers everywhere, Erenzo was at the forefront of the craft whiskey movement and put Hudson Whiskey, and more broadly New York whiskey, on the map. In fact, the barriers Hudson Whiskey broke down in the state led to five additional distilleries coming together with Hudson to establish a New York whiskey style to call their own, now classified as Empire Rye. Today, there are more than 1,800 craft distilleries in America and over 180 in New York State alone.
“Hudson Whiskey is the original innovator, a whiskey as bold as New York,” shared Paul Coffey, Senior Brand Manager, Hudson Whiskey. “Hudson shook things up when it started a movement here and now, once again, we will set the tone for what New York whiskey can be. That means liquid that has evolved with age, a fresh look to reflect our bold character, and reimagined names that evoke classic New York moments and that unmistakable New York spirit.”
At its start, Hudson Whiskey was the result of hard work and gumption. The brand quickly became an award-winning darling of the industry, due to its boldness and individuality. As the craft whiskey movement it pioneered continued to evolve, Hudson also matured, experimenting with new grains, blends, cask finishes and age statements.
Since 2017, the liquid has benefited from the distilling expertise of whisky icons Brian Kinsman, William Grant & Sons Master Blender, and David Stewart, The Balvenie Malt Master of over 55 years, alongside the Hudson Whiskey Chief Distiller Brendan O’Rourke. Together they have taken that 130 years of distilling pedigree for which William Grant & Sons is known and have applied it to Hudson.
“This is a seismic shift for the brand,” added Coffey. “With a significant increase in the age profile and the distilling dream team of Brian Kinsman, David Stewart and Brendan O’Rourke, we’ve been able to maintain the bold character of Hudson while mellowing the finish and softening the edges associated with younger whiskeys.”
The result is a reinvention of Baby Bourbon to Bright Lights, Big Bourbon and Manhattan Rye to Do The Rye Thing. As a yearly limited edition release, Maple Cask Rye is now Short Stack and an exciting innovation with a one-time release, Back Room Deal is a straight rye whiskey finished in peated Scotch barrels. With a bit of smoke and a bit of spice, it’s a liquid good enough to seal the deal. Now that time is on its side and with the expertise of its world class distilling team, Hudson Whiskey plans to experiment with older age statements to release additional innovations in the near future.
“My career began in the culinary arts after graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, so I value the fact that great products begin with great ingredients,” says Brendan O’Rourke, Chief Distiller and Operations Manager of Hudson Whiskey. “As a born and bred New Yorker, it is important to me to showcase the hard work from our local family farmers. These grains form the backbone of Hudson Whiskey and we are proud to work alongside our neighbors as our brand continues to grow. As the liquid inside of the bottle has evolved, it was fitting to update the packaging as well. The inspiration came from our love of the great state of New York and the people who make it unique.”
Ever evolving and always exciting, Hudson Whiskey captures the classic and dynamic essence of New York. The new packaging is inspired by the New York subway system with black and white blocking and bold, vibrant colors for each variant that convey a sense of place. The new variant names reflect New York attitude and embrace the kind of characters, places and moments that only exist in New York.
Hudson Whiskey will celebrate this rebirth by celebrating the people of New York and the New York sense of community. “New York is known for its people, the brave, resilient and creative individuals who make it home,” continued Coffey. “They are known for coming together to help and support one another. Hudson Whiskey is proud to celebrate that spirit and our fellow New Yorkers through Lifting Spirits, a month of uplifting activities to show support and appreciation to those who embody the New York spirit while also raising funds to help those in need.”
The Lifting Spirits program kicks off on September 14th with the auction of one select, limited-edition barrel of Hudson Whiskey that gives the highest bidder the opportunity to hand pick a rare cask of their choice at the distillery. The barrel is being donated to Diversity in Wine and Spirits for this auction and all proceeds go to the organization. Diversity in Wine & Spirits is a non-profit working to advocate, promote and support diversity and inclusion in the hospitality industry; a mission Hudson Whiskey strongly stands behind. The auction goes live Tuesday, September 14th via CharityBuzz and will be open for three weeks, with the opening bid starting at $4,500. “New York is great because of its diversity and we want to keep it that way,” said Paul Coffey.
Additional elements of Lifting Spirits:
- An art installation in collaboration with Dirty Bandits outside The Public Theater, and a donation to support the work of this iconic arts organization responsible for Shakespeare in the Park and numerous theatrical firsts; follow along @PublicTheaterNY
- A partnership with @newyorknico to shine a light on iconic New York establishments in need of support
- An evening at the iconic Mildred and Love, Dunette to provide industry professionals and out of work bartenders with haircuts; follow along @MildredNewYork and @LoveDunette
- And Hometown Hero with Priority Bicycles, through which people will nominate their local heroes for a chance to win a custom bicycle.
The reinvented Hudson Whiskey is available beginning today in its home market of the tri-state area allowing New Yorkers to be the first to try before a national roll out in the coming months.
Coffey concluded, “New York and the characters who call it home are always reinventing themselves and now so has Hudson Whiskey. We’ve never felt more at home.”