I spend a good amount of time in the Hudson Valley, NY area. My wife was raised there and has friends that still live in the area that she regularly visits. While I’m being dragged on visits, I like to sample the local offerings and one item that piqued my interest was a small batch bourbon that comes from a distillery in downtown Beacon, New York.
Denning’s Point Distillery was founded by Karl and Susan Johnson in 2014. Karl had been a chemist developing rocket fuel, and Susan was a successful designer producing corporate and product designs. Together, they decided to quit their jobs and strike out on their own, starting a distillery and making locally sourced whiskey.
They started by making vodka and “white lightning” unaged whiskey, staying true to their desire to make authentic local whiskey while waiting for their aged spirits to finish sitting in the barrels. They expanded that line to include gin, apple brandy, and more recently whiskey and bourbon as the aged barrels have ripened.
Following the pattern of other New York distilleries, all of the grains used in the production of the whiskey are sourced from within 50 miles of the distillery. For this spirit, the distillery uses corn, rye, and barley. Since this is a bourbon, at least half of the grain bill needs to be corn; however, the specific proportions of each of those ingredients aren’t disclosed
Once the grains are mashed and fermented, they are run through the distillery’s hybrid still — a pot still that distills spirits in small batches, but also includes some of the features of a column still for more precise cuts and selection of the right flavor profile.
Once the whiskey is produced, the spirit is stored in new charred oak barrels for a period of time. Exactly how long that whiskey is aged is not disclosed, as there’s no age statement on the bottle. And then, of course, the spirit is bottled and distributed after that.
The bottle is simple and stunning. We’ve seen a couple other distilleries using a similar design, which is a mostly traditional shaped bottle with a large body, quickly tapering shoulder, and medium length neck. The biggest difference here is that the corners are all rounded off, almost like a stone that’s been polished in the surf. It’s slick and modern and I like it.
The label does a good job of balancing a good and visible design with being small enough to allow the whiskey to be seen through the bottle. I love the aesthetic of the black label with the shiny gold lettering.
The whole thing is topped off with a cork stopper dipped in teal wax, which is a great accent color for the black and copper primary colors on the label.
This is 100% something I would keep on my shelf.
I get some very clear citrus notes in the aroma, specifically orange and lemon along with some honey sweetness. It’s delicious and inviting and reminds me of a hot toddy.
Taking a first sip, what gets me first is the heavy oak flavors. There’s some good vanilla and caramel notes in there, along with some cinnamon and nutmeg spices to make things interesting. As the flavors fade, the peppery spice from the rye in the grain bill really comes into its own, adding a bit of a kick that I really love and appreciate in my bourbons.
The whole thing is sweet and spicy, flavorful and delicious. There’s no bitterness or bite, it’s just awesome-ness all around.
As usual, with added ice the aromas have been toned down a bit. The whiskey smells much more like a stock traditional bourbon, with caramel and vanilla notes taking center stage. There’s still a bit of orange around the edges but it’s much less pronounced.
Surprisingly, though, there’s not much change in the actual flavors themselves — all of the subtle and no-so-subtle flavors are present and accounted for. It’s just colder and a little more diluted. The peppery spice is also present and apparent, but not as prominent or strong as taken neat.
The challenge of the mule is in the ginger beer. It has a tendency to overpower the whiskey flavors, and it needs to add something to the discussion other than just alcohol content.
In this case, the bourbon absolutely nails it. There’s the orange flavors blending nicely with the ginger, some of the sweetness from the corn counteracting the bitter ginger, and that peppery spice comes in to add some depth to the experience. It’s delicious. Absolutely delicious.
I love a true, small batch, locally produced bourbon, and this one is especially delicious. Everything about it is great, from the flavor profile to the packaging, and I’ll absolutely be looking to pick up a bottle to take back home to Texas.
Beacon Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Owner: Denning’s Point Distillery
Production: Beacon, NY
Grain bill: Corn, rye, and barley
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $59.49 / 750ml
Overall Rating: 5/5
Is the Hudson Valley the new hot place for bourbon?