Hillrock’s New Single Malt Rocks the Glass

At last month’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a cowboy-hat wearing Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller for Hillrock Estate Distillery, gave me a “C’mere, kid!” crook of the head, beckoning me to something secret seeming. He pulled from his tuxedo jacket’s breast pocket a small, glass bottle full of an amber-hued liquid and grinned.

At last month’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a cowboy-hat wearing Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller for Hillrock Estate Distillery, gave me a “C’mere, kid!” crook of the head, beckoning me to something secret seeming. He pulled from his tuxedo jacket’s breast pocket a small, glass bottle full of an amber-hued liquid and grinned.

“It’s our single malt — we’re releasing it in the next few weeks!” He handed me the secreted container and I sipped — spice, maple, cinnamon. Gloriously well-integrated and smooth. Wow.

On June 3, this lovely libation was released — Hillrock Estate Distillery Single Malt Whiskey (48.2% abv; $125) is made entirely from barley that is organically grown, harvested, and malted at Hillrock’s Ancram farm distillery — the first field-to-glass operation of its kind in New York state since before Prohibition. Pickerell says that in the future, he’s working on other styles of single-malt whiskey, too — a peated version and a fruit or nut wood smoked version, too. If they’re anything as delicious as this first release, we expect they’re well worth the wait.

A great trek for Father’s Day weekend: Head on up to Hillrock’s open house in Ancram, NY on Saturday, June 15 from noon to 5pm at the distillery for a free tour and tasting with Pickerell. So much better for Dad than soap-on-a-rope.

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Amy Zavatto is the daughter of an old school Italian butcher who used to sell bay scallops alongside steaks, and is also the former Deputy Editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She holds her Level III Certification in Wine and Spirits from the WSET, and contributes to Imbibe, Whisky Advocate, SOMMJournal, Liquor.com, and others. She is the author of Forager's Cocktails: Botanical Mixology with Fresh, Natural Ingredients and The Architecture of the Cocktail. She's stomped around vineyards from the Finger Lakes to the Loire Valley and toured distilleries everywhere from Kentucky to Jalisco to the Highlands of Scotland. When not doing all those other things, Amy is the Director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.