Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon (46.3% ABV / 92.6 Proof, $80) – light amber in color, the Hillrock whiskey has picked up a small amount of the color from its time in the Oloroso sherry casks while still maintaining the golden luster of a younger whiskey. The nose on the Hillrock Estate Bourbon is slightly spicy with cinnamon, oak, and rye spice. This spice is balanced with an undercurrent of caramel and a slight nuttiness. The entry of Hillrock Estate Bourbon is slightly sweet with the caramel from the nose, which was an undertone there, jumping out to become a lead flavor note on the palate. This sweetness quickly subsides and drops back to a supporting note reading more like brown sugar than caramel. In the midpalate, Hillrock Bourbon recaptures much of the spice from the nose with rye spice, cinnamon, and oak. There’s also a subtle fruity note in the core of this spice from the Oloroso sherry which reads like faint blackberry, as well as a slight nuttiness. It’s towards the end of the midpalate where the young whiskey in the mix shows itself with noticeable heat. This young whiskey drives the finish which starts off nice with vanilla and spice but then quickly turns too dry with the flavors evaporating from the palate.
Hillrock’s Bourbon has a fairly nice and balanced mouthfeel, until the end of the midpalate where it’s just a little too hot, and on the finish where it skirts with being unpleasantly dry. One of the things that Hillrock managed to do was avoid many of the significant issues that can arise when using small barrels in the mix. The Hillrock Bourbon isn’t over oaked and doesn’t have any unseasoned oak notes in the mix. The presentation of the rye spice is also well managed but ultimately there’s just no getting around the young spirit in the mix. Hillrock Estates took a bit of a risk with the Solera system; it’s not something that’s commonly used for American Whiskey, and for the most part it works.
Read the complete Review: Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon at Drink Spirits.