Whiskey Review: Rock Town Fifth Anniversary Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Rock Town Fifth Anniversary Bourbon

Rock Town Fifth Anniversary BourbonEditor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Recent silver winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Rock Town Distillery of Little Rock, Arkansas, seems to be coming up in this world. Now over five years old, Rock Town is celebrating its anniversary with a limited edition Rock Town Fifth Anniversary Bourbon release (we recently wrote about it here).

Rock Town claims to be Arkansas’ first-ever bourbon, produced completely in Little Rock. Their barrels are locally coopered at the Gibbs Brothers Cooperage in neighboring Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the majority of their grains are from the state as well.

This particular whiskey is made with 70% Arkansas corn, 10% Arkansas wheat, and 20% malted barley, and aged for four years in #4 charred white oak barrels. Bottled in bond at 100 proof, Rock Town isn’t messing around.

For a craft distillery outpost in a state not likely on the map of many whiskey drinkers, Rock Town has garnered a pretty serious accolade for this particular bourbon. Noted whisk(e)y writer Jim Murray, in his annual Whisky Bible, scored this bottling a 92, which is pretty high for such a young outfit.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Rock Town bourbon is a medium-light caramel tone in the glass.

Nose: Bananas and brown sugar a la bananas foster is the first impression on the nose. Surprisingly mild for its BIB status, Rock Town is light, fruity, and funky on the nose. Buttery, doughy notes mingle with a cornucopia of warm tropical fruits, with pineapple, banana, and raw almond standing out. As the nose develops, it becomes quite funky; papaya and guava come through with significant vegetal funk. After some time, the topical fruit funk settles in with a buttered popcorn and grassy notes.

Palate: Bitter, nutty, and almond-forward on the palate, Rock Town has a light, almost thin mouthfeel with a slight BIB burn. A fun-house mirror reflection of the nose, the palate accentuates the funky, tropical vegetation of the nose, with adding a distinctly bitter element. Hot fruit comes through with the grassiness of the nose turning to hay on the palate. Midway through the palate, buttered popcorn comes through to accompany the tropical, vegetal notes that have transferred from the nose. Slightly chocolatey on the finish, popcorn carries all the way through.

Conclusion:

Rock Town Fifth Anniversary Bourbon is absolutely a strange bourbon. While the tropical, vegetal, popcorn elements of the dram make it fun and interesting to taste through, the bitterness present from front to back on the palate detract from the overall experience. The relatively thin body also seems strange in comparison to the buttery flavors of the whiskey. The flavors on the palate need some excavation to be discovered, with the power of the nose really being the show-stopper.

Altogether, Rock Town remains pretty approachable for how funky it is.

FINAL SCORE: 89/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF ROCK TOWN FIFTH ANNIVERSARY BOURBON]

About the author

Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the Hebridean Isles. I am currently working in the industry getting up-close and personal with whisk(e)y, spirits, and cocktails every day.