Hillrock Distillery Debuts Peat Smoked American Single Malt Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Hillrock Distillery Debuts Peat Smoked American Single Malt Whiskey

By Nino Marchetti / July 31, 2014

Hillrock Single Malt Smoked WhiskeyHillrock Estate Distillery, nestled on some beautiful acreage in New York’s agriculturally rich Hudson Valley two hours north of New York City, lays claim to being one of the few so called “field to glass” whiskey producers in the world. It also is said to be the first U.S. distillery since Prohibition to traditionally floor malt and hand craft its whiskey on site from estate-grown grains. This is all important to know as you consider the fact this producer of an already fine American single malt has upped its game with this bottling by just releasing a peat smoked variant with a minimum of two years in different barrels.

Hillrock is the brain chid of owner Jeffery Baker and renowned American whiskey expert and distiller David Pickerell, the latter of whom most notably was the former head distilling guy at Maker’s Mark before getting his hands into the development of a number of craft whiskey operations across the country. The result of having such a heavyweight as Pickerell helping in spirits development here has been the release of some very popular and heavily awarded offerings, including, besides the estate single malt, a solera aged bourbon and a double cask rye.

The Hillrock single malt, when it first debuted, came out in small batches after a previous life as estate grown barley that was floor malted before being distilled in a copper pot still and barrel aged. Little to no peat smoking happened in the first three barrel releases apparently, but as of barrel four going forward, which is just starting to hit some shops now in New York, you have a whiskey that was lightly smoked for eight hours with imported Scottish peat and later finished in 20-year-old ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

Tasting notes provided to me by Hillrock for this exciting new release, bottled at 86 proof, are below and showcase a whiskey somewhat characteristic of a fine Speyside malt. The 750 ml, honey-amber colored whiskey is pricing around $100 a bottle. When you are looking to buy it make sure to check the side label for an indication of the barrel number to know whether or not you are getting the smoked expression.

Nose: Shortbread, caramelized orange and heather

Taste: Faint citrus notes are rounded with toffee, dried fruit, cinnamon and clove

Finish: Long and dry.  Spicy, yet sweet with a delicate lingering smokiness