Distiller: Hillrock Estate. ABV: 48.2% Age: NAS. Mashbill: 100% malted barley.
The folks at Hillrock Estate in NY’s Hudson Valley may be best known thus far for their Solera Aged Bourbon — a delicious and clever solution to the startup distiller’s dilemma: they blend their own young bourbon, aged in small barrels, with more mature sourced “seed bourbon,” and finish it in Oloroso sherry barrels. Wine Enthusiast gave it a 96, putting this young distiller on the map with a single review. (They owe a certain debt for their early success to former Marker’s Mark master distiller — now consultant to Hillrock and many other ambitious microdistillers — Dave Pickerell. See The Whiskey Wash’s great Q&As with him on the topic.)
Hillrock also makes an excellent single malt, the latest batch of which I had the pleasure of sampling: the 20-Hour Peat Smoke. They grow and floor malt their own barley on their own estate, and, for this batch, smoke it for 20 hours with peat imported from Speyside. Not exactly taking the easy way out.
How is it? Delicious. The nose is hot at first but mellows quickly. Add a drop of water and it really comes alive. Raw pumpkin, hot buttered challah, and sweet campfire smoke. The body is marvelously thick and oily. The palate’s on the drier side, with prickly hickory smoke and pleasant vegetal notes that recall the Amrut Fusion — which I love — but with less tropical fruit. The finish clings to the tongue, with charred chicken breast and white pepper.
Great stuff, Hillrock! Here’s hoping this makes it much further than the distillery gift shop. – BO