Whiskey Review Round Up: Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review Round Up: Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey

Rock Town Hickory WhiskeyEditor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as free samples to review by the party behind them. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working our way through Rock Town Distillery’s whiskey lineup, starting with three of their bourbons, then moving on to their two rye offerings. This week, we’re sampling two versions of a more unique whiskey: a Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey and a single-barrel version of that same expression.

Rock Town is a Little Rock, Arkansas-based distillery turning out an impressive range of whiskey, gin, and other spirits. The corn, rye, and wheat used by the distillery are all grown in Arkansas, and all their whiskeys are made, grain-to-glass, at the distillery. As we’ve mentioned in previous weeks, they’ve garnered some serious accolades in recent years, including a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and an inclusion in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible.

Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey, along with its higher-end cousin, the Single Barrel Reserve Hickory Smoked Whiskey, is made with a mash bill of 91% wheat and 9% malted barley. In what seems to be a pretty unique process, the wheat is cold-smoked over hickory before being milled. The distillate is aged in 15- and 25-gallon used bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes: Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey

Color: Pale gold

Nose: Sweet up front, with honey, butterscotch, and vanilla. Some toast and light smokiness are also there. What dominates, though, is a strong butter note.

Palate: Bread, cherry candy, and more butter transition to wood and cardboard. There’s a vague savoriness in the mid-palate. Light mouthfeel.

Final Score: 79/100

Tasting Notes: Rock Town Single Barrel Reserve Hickory Smoked Whiskey

Color: Light copper

Nose, neat: Vanilla, hard candy, and honey mix with faint smoke

Palate, neat: Buttered toast, nutmeg, and fairly strong, bitter oak, along with a faintly meaty note. Hot and tannic.

Nose, with water: Some of the creamy notes of the regular Hickory Smoked Whiskey come out, though they’re not nearly as strong. I also get salted caramel, apricot, and, again, a slight savoriness.

Palate, with water: Honey and wood are here, along with some light smoke, but underlying everything is a funky, faintly gross combination I can only describe as prosciutto mixed with ink. It’s… odd. Decent body.

Final Score: 78/100

Final Thoughts

Both these whiskeys came across, to me, as something of a weird mess. The Hickory Smoked Whiskey is like drinking melted butter, with fairly little of the smoke flavor the distillery reports. The Single Barrel Reserve is less one-note, but if anything, more of a head-scratcher, with its strange combination of sweetness, umami, and funk. The nice way to describe it, I guess, would be “interesting,” although I don’t care for it personally.



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