In the early 1800's, the State of New York was responsible for the production of more than half of the barley and rye harvested in the United States. The Hudson Valley, which extends from New York City northward through Albany, was the country's original breadbasket and was home to thousands of farms, hundreds of which distilled the excess grains they harvested into whiskey. In the 1930s, the onset of Prohibition forced these farmers to abandon their stills.
Today, in a 19th century Georgian mansion situated in the heart of the Hudson Valley, Master Distiller Dave Pickerell pays homage to the New York farmers who produced their whiskey from grains to glass. Pickerell, who graduated from West Point with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, served in the military for 11 years as a cavalry officer before receiving his Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville. Pickerell then served as Master Distiller as Maker's Mark in Loretto, Kentucky for 13 years. There, he was responsible for ensuring the quality and consistency of Maker's Mark Bourbon. A former chairman of the Kentucky Distillers Association and a member of the Distilled Spirits Council, Pickerell is an expert nonpareil in the production of whiskey.
Hillrock Estate Double Cask Rye Whiskey is handcrafted by Pickerell from small batches of organically grown rye that are harvested from the Hillrock Estate. Once the rye has been harvested, it is mashed and fermented, before being distilled through Pickerell's custom-made, 250-gallon copper-pot still. The still, which was built in Kentucky to Pickerell's exact specifications, gives the distiller extraordinary control over the character and quality of the whiskey produced.
Following distillation, the rye whiskey is matured in traditional oak casks before being double-barreled, or finished, in secondary casks. The secondary casks are composed of American oak and have been charred with a #4 char. In addition, the staves of the secondary casks were air-seasoned for over two years prior to the casks' assembly. As a result, the secondary casks contribute strong notes of vanilla and caramelized wood sugars to the rye, while minimizing bitter tannins that are often present in kiln dried oak.
Double Cask Rye has a deep golden amber color, along with a warm aroma of vanilla and caramel that is complemented by touches of prunes, apricots and rye. The aroma gives way to notes of caramel and rye, along with touches of cloves, cinnamon and butterscotch, and leads to a long, warming finish.
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