Simon Toohey from Callooh Callay in London was one of four bartenders from around the world selected to be “honorary distillers” as part of a visit to the home of US whiskey Hudson.
As this video shows, they joined Hudson’s international brand ambassador Tony Vanaria and Hudson founders Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee for a “Bartender Working Week” at the Tuthilltown Craft Distillery in the Hudson Valley in New York state.
Simon, who is bar manager at Callooh Callay in Shoreditch, was joined by Elysha Bush from Penny Black in Melbourne, Ahmed Mido Yahi from Café Moderne in Paris, and Dirk Hany from the Widder Bar in Zurich.
During the trip, they become “honorary distillery men” and rolled up their sleeves to learn about the super-premium whiskey, from milling, cooking and fermenting to distilling barrelling and bottling. They were joined on the visit by the whiskey’s UK brand ambassador, Stuart Hudson.
Ralph said: “This was an opportunity for them to meet the people who are making it. They really got in close with the staff and worked with everyone.
“I’m hoping this is the first of many distillery experiences for bartenders all over the world who can come here and learn about Hudson whiskey first hand.”
They will follow up the experience by swapping places with one of their fellow bartenders to take part in the Hudson Bartender Exchange, giving them the opportunity to experience a different bar scene in a different city.
Tony said: “This first group of bartenders to join the crew here at Hudson were selected for their passion for the brand, their contributions to the bartending community and their appreciation of our pioneering spirit.
“Ralph and I have made many bartender friends during our travels and we were really pleased to welcome these four bartenders – and in the future more of the very best – to be part of the Hudson family.”
In addition to working at the distillery, they also learned about the Hudson Valley where up to 90% of the raw materials used in Hudson whiskeys are sourced. They had a chance to learn about the local history, mountains and natural beauty, visit local farm suppliers, stay in a tranquil lodge at a mountain retreat, go rock climbing in the Gunks and explore New York City’s cocktail scene.
The second Hudson Bartender Working Week will take place in October when four more bartenders – yet to be announced – will join the Hudson family. The whiskeys are distributed in the UK by William Grant & Sons UK.