If you haven’t heard of Hillrock Distillery, it’s time to take note. Not only is Hillrock the first post-Prohibition distillery to floor malt and hand-craft whiskey from estate-grown grain, but the artisan distiller is also the brainchild of Dave Pickerell. Known for his 14 years as Maker’s Mark’s master distiller, Pickerell is one of the whisky industry’s few true experts. Pickerell stopped by Morrell Wine & Spirits Merchants yesterday to pour his Hillrock Solera Bourbon and talk liquor innovation.
The bottling is the world’s first solera-aged bourbon, meaning that a small portion of the whiskey is removed periodically and new whiskey is added. The small barrel-aged Bourbon is then finished in 20-year-old Oloroso Sherry casks to increase the complexity. Pickerell talked about how he worked with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to have “solera-aged” made into an official category of whiskey—the board originally didn’t agree it was whiskey because it didn’t fit the traditional creation process. Luckily, he got his way, and solera-aged is considered whiskey by the board’s definition.
And we’re quite glad too. It looks like liquid caramel and tastes of dried fruit. The full-bodied Bourbon merges sweeter notes of brown sugar and toffee with earthy clove, cinnamon, and spices, leading to a long, butterscotch-filled finish. Stop by and check it out for yourself!