Hillrock Solera aged bourbon is their first whiskey release and is the idea of Master Distiller David Pickerell. Solera aging involves never fully emptying the oldest cask of whiskey but refilling it from the next oldest and blending before bottling. The bourbon itself is a blend of corn and rye with the rye said to be "about" 37% (difficult to tell in a solera model). In this way, a small part of any bottle will have a tiny bit of very, very old whiskey. (We always think of it like gas in your car... there may be a little tiny bit of the first tank of gas still in there "blending" with the most recent fill-up.) The blend began with "seed bourbon" from Oloroso (Spanish) sherry casks that a New York Times write-up mentions averaged 6 years old. Presumably, these "seed bourbons" will be present in some degree for all time though most pronounced, obviously, in the very first editions. They suggest looking for notes of caramel, vanilla, and dried fruit (all common with bourbon) but also clove and cinnamon.
The 2013 Beverage Testing Institute--perhaps longing for breakfast--found aromas of "toasty Belgian waffles with berry compote and whipped cream." They recommended it with cigars believing it "woody" and complex.
About the Producer:
Hillrock Estate Distillery was founded by Jeff Baker and located in the Hudson Valley of New York State, which they describe as having a legacy of American grain. The distillery is located at Hillrock House, restored in 2006 amidst their own grain fields. To this legacy, Hillrock is a true "grain to glass" distillery where they mill and ferment their own estate-grown grain before distilling in a custom-made copper pot still. The grain is raised without chemical interference and adherence to organic methods. In an even more unusual move, they "floor malt" their own grain, which means wetting and turning the grain in order for the grain to flower before drying and "freezing" the resulting sugars in the grain. Baker comes from a multi-decade farming background and a long advocate of local produce and vertical integration.