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Cigar Spirits: Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon

1 Jul 2014

Allow me to take a brief break from writing about rye whiskey to focus on a new staple bourbon in my collection. Rick Hill Farms has been around for a while, but I had never actually tried the spirit until recently (in part because, in my home state of Virginia, it is a “special order” item not regularly stocked by Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores).RockHillFarms-sq

RockHillFarmsSBRock Hill Farms is made by Buffalo Trace, which crafts many well-known bourbons, from Blanton’s to Eagle Rare to George T. Stagg. Buffalo Trace makes bourbon with three different mashbills (this chart has the details). Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel is one of five made with the high rye mashbill, which features 10-12% rye and a small amount of malted barley along with a majority of corn. (Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, Ancient Age, and Hancock’s all derive from the same mashbill.)

Rock Hill Farms doesn’t have an age statement, but reports list it as 8-10 years before being bottled at 100-proof. A 750 ml. bottle costs $50-60, roughly the same as the 93-proof, more widely available Blanton’s. (The bottle is a square decanter that an imaginative mind will have no trouble finding use for after its contents are gone.)

Rick Hill Farms is a lovely deep amber color. The nose has a rich combination of rock candy, honey, baking spices, and just a bit of oak. On the palate, it’s a velvety combination of caramel, dried fruit, fudge, and creaminess. It has a restrained intensity that’s easy to appreciate and worthy of drinking straight. The finish is long and full of apples and spice.

As far as cigar pairings go, it’s a versatile bourbon that can stand up to all but the spiciest cigars. A rich Nicaraguan cigar like a Tatuaje Brown Label or Drew Estate Liga Privada goes as well as a more subtle cigar like a Cohiba Behike or Davidoff Colorado Claro.

The obvious comparisons for the Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel are Blanton’s and Elmer T. Lee, both of which are single barrel selections made from the same mashbill. For value, it’s hard to beat Elmer T. Lee, which is $20 less than the other two. But compared to Blanton’s, the higher proof Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel is a slight step above, perhaps due to the added intensity of its higher proof. That’s why it recently became a regular on my bourbon shelf and is a must-try for bourbon fans.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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