View Full Version : The Rock vs.The Black
I realise I have (this entirely my own fault) confused and at times conflated Black Maple Hill and Rock Hill Farms whiskies.
Can someone give a description of each brand, i.e., who makes them, taste profile, the different kinds in each range, and how they rate in general and to each other?
Rock Hill Farms is a single barrel bourbon made by Buffalo Trace. It is a rye recipe bourbon and it is the only one to carry the rock hill farms name.
Black Maple Hill comes in different variants. It used to come in a 14, 16, 18 and 20 yo bourbon as well as a 15 yo rye when it was bottled by Julian. The newest releases were not done by Julian. They come in an 11yo, 14yo, 16yo and a 21yo and I think they still bottle an 18yo rye. I believe the new releases are bottled by Evan for a CA distributor, California Vineyards Inc. Oh, and the new BMH is a rye recipe whereas I think the originals done by Julian were wheat.
As for taste profiles I can't really help on the BMH's as I haven't had them yet, but people on the forum here who have tasted them really seem to like them. As for RHF, I haven't had it in some time but trust me it is a wonderful bourbon. A perfect balance of everything as I recall and fairly smooth. Dang, I was going to open a bottle of Blanton's soon, but I may have to open a RHF instead now!
Admirable precision and knowledge, much appreciated. I get confused sometimes by the names ending in "ock" and "ack": Black Maple Hill, Rock Hill Farms, Hancock Reserve. I think I have only had a BMH once, the one Randy brought to the Gazebo. It was very good. I had either a BMH or the Rock Hill Farms at a bar in New York (Collins bar on 8th Avenue at about 42nd, an outpost of whiskey specialists DBA's (on 1rst Avenue between 2nd and 1st Streets)) but cannot recall which it was.
I will be looking for these on subsequent trips to Kentucky..
I've been wanting to try the Rock Hill Farms ever since I read this rating from Jim Murray in Whisky Magazine. (Incidentally, a far better rating than he gave the brand in his Whiskey Bible. I'm not sure which one is newer.)
Here's what it says:
A dazzling array of oaky tones, but a drier, fruitier rye presence adds perfect balance. A softening sprig of mint compounds the complexity.
Opens evenly over the mouth: beautifully bitter sweet with the rye, toffee-cream oak.
Long, restrained age and some late rye and liquorice chewability. Unbelievably balanced and about as good as any bourbon gets.
Michael Jackson's comments are equally appealing:
Raisins. Boxes of dates. Oak
Black chocolate. Milk chocolate. White chocolate.
Balancing nutty dryness.
The flavours may sound similar but it is the interplay of their subtleties that make this such an interesting whiskey. Try it with a double chocolate-chip cookie. Or a rocky road ice-cream.
Gary....That was a 14yo BMH bottled by JVW. It was very good indeed. I've tried the newer version by EK, and while different, is a smooth, refined bourbon. I'm bringing the new BMH 16yo to the Festival in September to compare to Dane's 21yo BMH. As for RHF, I always have a bottle on hand. It's a top ten for sure!
Many thanks Randy and to Clayton for his report. Interesting how older spirirts can acquire the taste of chocolate. Recently I sampled at a party some Mount Gay Very Old Rum (from Barbados). I expected a rather tannic dram but it wasn't at all, just soft cocoa, light sweetness, very soft and balanced - much like Jackson's description of Rock Hill Farms, in fact.
Anyway, I am bringing some Canadian rye (probably the "new" Lot 40) and my "Fleischman's 1885 best bourbon blend". The latter has some of the rye intensity noted by Murray in his taste note for Rock Hill Farms - not quite the caramel/vanilla/wood swathing he notes but I think it needs melding time, just as Fleischman suggested. It won't get three months in a warehouse but will have had about two months bottle maturation in our coolish Ontario summer. It's tasting good now! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Back around '92, Rock Hill Farms (along with Booker's) was my first "step up" from MM et al. into premium bourbons. To this day it remains one of my favorites. As stated above, it has great balance. I find it is always an absolute pleasure to drink. Back then, I remember it also coming in an 86 proof version, but IMHO the bonded version was always better. The bottle design used to be slightly different - I liked the older ones better. The picture on the whiskymag webstite shows the old bottle.
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