Tag Archives: Hudson Valley

Field to Glass Whiskey in New York State–Hillrock Estate Distillery in the Hudson Valley

Hillrock Distillery

Hillrock Distillery

Copper Still at HillRock

Copper Still at HillRock

I love distilleries and spirits. I’ve worked babysitting a still at more than one winery as the cellar rat, and there is something so old school about the process. A few weeks ago, I was tasting through the Hudson Valley with TasteCamp 2014. We were lucky enough to have one of the largest distillery tastings ever in NY, with over fourteen local distillers representing their products and specialties. The tasting was set at Hillrock Estate Distillery, about two hours north of New York City. Worth the trip if you can escape the city for a day, this place is special-and so is everyone involved with it.

Belly up to the bar at Hillrock

Belly up to the bar at Hillrock

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock greeters

Hillrock Estate Distillery is an incredible facility that is focused on showcasing the unique terroir of the area, using estate grown grains that are FLOOR MALTED in their on site malt house, the only one in NY.

Floor malting estate grown barley

Floor malting estate grown barley

Barley in the floor malting process

Barley in the floor malting process

Owner Jeff Baker toured historic Scotland malt houses in order to create a functioning, traditional malt house for his dream distillery. Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (formerly the Head Distiller at a little place called Maker’s Mark) was intrigued by the commitment to small batch quality, traditionalism, and history, and joined on to add his impressive skill set to the Hillrock team.

Fermentation tanks

Fermentation tanks

IMG_1176.JPGThroughout the tour and tasting, it was evident that these craftsmen are one hundred percent invested in the crafting of the highest quality whiskey, bourbon, and rye. The Solera Aged Bourbon and Single Malt Whiskey were an incredible treat for a whiskey lover such as myself, and the price points were completely justifiable considering the quality of the product. Cinnamon and clove are very prominent flavors reflected in the terroir, and the slow hand crafting process creates a silky, smooth sipping delight. Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had, hands down, kids.

Tasting with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell

Tasting with Master Distiller Dave Pickerell

So, what the HELL is floor malting? Tradition, that’s what. The barley is germinated in the traditional fashion, turned and raked by HAND every six hours on the stone floor, to control the temperature and moisture. Fellow Taste Camper Todd Trzaskos took an AWESOME video of the floor malting, distilling, tasting fun we were a part of at Hillrock. He was nice enough to let me post it–Check it out HERE: Hillrock Distillery TasteCamp Video

Hillrock is open for tastings and tours by appointment only! I would LOVE to get a group of tattoo folks together that might be interested for a BoozyLife field trip. Intrigued? Leave your comments below!