Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Sazerac Company, Inc.
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Release Date: Ongoing
Mashbill: Undisclosed (Buffalo Trace's Mashbill #2, 12-15% rye)
Named for the rich farmland along the Kentucky River, Rock Hill Farms is part of Buffalo Trace’s Bourbon Mashbill #2 family. With the exception of Ancient Age, Mashbill #2 based bourbons are currently composed of only single barrel offerings. Rock Hill Farms was the highest proof Mashbill #2 bourbon sold in the United States, until in 2020 when it was eclipsed by Blanton’s Gold as the highest proof Mashbill #2 bourbon.
The nose opens with light summer cherries, berries, baked apples, and light hay. Behind these scents is a delicious bed of vanilla, cinnamon bark, and charred oak. For a 100 proof bourbon there isn’t a hint of ethanol, which allows you to concentrate wholey on the scents that are present without being distracted. The mix between more traditional scents and lighter summer fruits strikes a nice balance and a really inviting way to start the sip.
Light spice mixes with a creamy dose of leather and oak. Swirling the sip pulls forward sweeter flavors of allspice, vanilla sticks, toasted sugar, and a light hint of cocktail cherries. The creamieness found at the start of the sip really elevates this palate, resulting in a fantastic flavor profile that keeps pulling you back in for more.
A large dose of rye spice opens up the finish. This spice is joined with hints of creamy vanilla, evergreen, and oak. The rye spice is the constant, as a long lingering combo of toasted oak and rye spice hangs on. While the finish doesn’t quite match the depth that the palate brings, it still allows the sip to end the sip on a memorable note.
Rock Hill Farms is part of the ever-popular Buffalo Trace Mashbill #2 single barrel bourbons. This includes Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, Blanton’s Single Barrel, and the recently announced stateside release of Blanton’s Gold Single Barrel. The two main differentiators between all of these single barrels are their varying proof along with varying warehouse aging locations.
It’s interesting to see Buffalo Trace release so many single barrel bourbons with such small varying proofs between them all. In theory this should produce similar flavor profiles that are either bolder or weaker based on the proof, however it isn’t an apples to apples comparison across the board. The only line this really works for is Blanton’s, and that’s because that family line is aged in Warehouse H, while the others are aged in different warehouses.
A closer comparison would be Rock Hill Farms to Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel. What comes to light are two different flavor profiles that allow both to shine equally, yet in different ways. Rock Hill Farms shines in its balanced blend of spice with creamy flavors that intermingle into a delicious tasting sip. This combination allows Rock Hill Farms to distinguish itself among it’s Mashbill #2 siblings in its own right.
Rock Hill Farms, like so many of Buffalo Trace’s bourbons, isn’t easy to find at MSRP. As is the case with many Buffalo Trace products, this usually sells for much more on shelves and even higher on the secondary market. However, it also seems to be talked about less than Elmer T. Lee and Blanton’s which in my personal experience seems to be due to its even more infrequent release than the rest of the Mashbill #2 bourbons. Put simply, it’s just not top of mind.
For its $60, it’s a great value. This is especially true in light of Blanton’s Gold’s $120 price tag. Sure the bourbons have their nuanced differences, but for half the price, you can’t beat the value in comparison. Rock Hill Farms delivers a great pour for the price and is well worth a pick up if you happen across it on shelves.
It may not get as much attention as its Mashbill #2 siblings, but Rock Hill Farms single barrel bourbon delivers in all the right areas and is another solid single barrel in the Buffalo Trace family lineup.
Rock Hill Farms doesn’t come up in conversation as much as it deserves, and part of the reason is that even 6-7 years ago you didn’t see this very often on shelves. Its unassuming bottle with its extra large cork topper and bottle design often gave off the impression of a bourbon that was the odd kid out. It’s a shame too, because when you take the time to really look at the bottle, with its horses that come across as hand painted, it’s actually one of the more tastefully done bottles on the market now.
The fact of the matter is, Rock Hill Farms stands shoulder to shoulder with its Mashbill #2 siblings. It’s not a big bold pour like so many bourbons strive to deliver. Instead it delivers a delicious flavor profile that balances a nice dose of spice with additional rich creamy flavors throughout the sip. With a price tag that recently seems very reasonable compared to it’s siblings and peers, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy a bottle if you come across it.