American craft distilling is undergoing a significant revival – the desire for ‘authentic’, small batch products has walked hand-in-hand with the global trend for all things brown spirit for a number of years now. Whilst California still has the largest number of craft distilleries, New York State is not all that far behind (now over 180 distilleries, up from a mere 50 back in 2012) – something you’ll often hear Governor Andrew M. Cuomo highlighting. Under his watch (since 2011) some significant regulatory barriers have been removed to help foster the growth of the craft beverage sector. But it’s far from plain sailing - regulations and red tape still exist and considerable additional scrutiny from a variety of city agencies has been emerging.
The NY Department of Buildings and the NY Fire Department (to name but two) are seeking updates to the 100 year old zoning codes. But, until those regulations are made ‘fit for purpose’, there are still considerable risks for fledgling distillers around the potential threat of violations and the inabilities to site distilleries in the areas where they can best serve local neighbourhoods in terms of both employment and commerce.
Whilst the legal pressures are easy to comprehend – they stem from public and residential safety – many local craft operators see the bygone protocols as both a headache for the authorities to precisely navigate and also a real risk to New York’s craft distilling revival. Modern craft operations are a different animal to those of the early part of the last century – and the regulations and zoning codes require updating to be in-line with current realities and requirements. Change is coming – but it needs to come quickly and effectively to ensure the future legacy of New York’s growing craft sector.
Door number 3 of the Boutique-y Whisky Company 2019 Advent Calendar takes us over to the Big Apple – in two ways. The New York Distilling Company 2 year old Batch 2 not only hails from The City That Never Sleeps - it also has been finished in a cask which previously contained applejack. Applejack is a cider-based spirit which is often created through a freeze distilling method whereby the cider is frozen (often outside) and the ice (which will have a lower concentration of ethanol) is removed, thus gradually fortifying the remaining liquid.
Boutique-y’s Batch 2 release from New York Distilling Company is formed of 481 bottles of applejack finished rye-spirit and is bottled at 50% ABV. They’re available from Master of Malt for £37.95.
Nose: An appealing combination of spiced (cinnamon and baking spice) apple pie, caramel and newly patented leather. Running throughout, cookie dough, cracked cashew nuts and vanilla cream biscuits. Water unlocks banana bread and toffee popcorn alongside rich crème patisserie.
Taste: The arrival is biting, but not overtly raw – it’s young, but well-formed for its relative age. Cream buns and chocolate covered pecan pie sits with unfined brown sugars, apple crumble and toffee filled biscuits. Spices emerge in the form of dusty pepper and earthiness, whilst chocolate and vanilla add some restraint to the animated profile. Reduction evens things out – spiced apple slices and choux buns together with a softer and creamier body.
Finish: Medium to long with dry prickly spice tempered by earthiness and peppery charred oak.
The applejack cask finish has introduced both complexity and intrigue to this rye spirit – whilst at the same time softening some the expected spiciness from the underlying spirit. But nevertheless, the grain character is still present and discernible. Some rougher edges, but likeable all the same.
Review calendar provided by Atom Brands.