By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
There are few American whiskies that transcend the category's gruff persona. Sure, there are expensive whiskies being made at craft and industrial distilleries alike, but only a tiny handful capture that nuanced space that could be considered "luxury." The Hillrock Estate achieves that feeling without even trying. They've put so much time, money, energy and thoughtfulness into these products -- the inherent quality seeps from the glass with almost perfect restraint. Dave Pickerell (RIP) had a field day making Hillrock. I'd never seen him more proud or excited about one of his products than when he talked about Hillrock. But nothing about the story explicitly implies that it's a luxury product. After all the "Estate" is actually a farm, but the quality derives directly from a commitment to produce the absolute best regardless of cost. That is true luxury. Almost no craft producers have achieved such an innovative and well-polished product, so when we had the chance to buy this little cask we knew we wanted to pick a good one. After many rounds of samples, we found one that captured the incredible intrigue of their standard release, yet turned up volume to a different level. The wine cask influence, something I'm generally averse to in bourbon, is so well integrated and built around such a high quality product that you almost can't pick out their specific complexities. The nose is a powerful bouquet of hardwood, spice box, roasted nut brittle, caramelized stone fruit, hints of graphite, dried leaves, and white pepper. On the palate, sweet black cherries, fresh tobacco leaf, roasting baking spice, wild honey, and burnt orange peel. Big, bold spice coming out on the finish, which is powerful but not at all hot. The is whiskey is like an Hermès tie. It's not flashy or loud, but exudes elegance, class, and above all, good taste. Few American whiskies can match the quality that is being produced at the little farm upstate, but we're extremely excited to see the incredible things they've got planned and proud to partner on this special cask.