Rock Town Distillery Tasting Notes

Posted: March 20, 2013 in American Whiskies, Whiskies

Arkansas Lightning 55%

82% Arkansas Corn, 9% Arkansas Soft Red Winter Wheat, 9% Malted Barley

Tasted: June 2013

Pungent, ‘off the still’ aromas of oily cereal along with plenty of toasted, wheat flake notes and a touch of pop corn and citrus. Very natural and definitely not soft and fluffy!

The palate is soft and lightly oiled, again with an ‘off the still’ pungency. Slightly corny but showing more of the wheat notes until the corn notes come through quite strongly with quite a nutty character. Like the nose it is a very natural spirit with a citrus finish.

With water the nose becomes even more pungent and oily with a touch of fusel oils, manure and rose petals. Likewise the palate with a more distinct toasted, nutty, wheat flakes character.

Apple Pie Flavoured Arkansas Lightning 20%

Lightning flavoured with apple juice and cinnamon.

Tasted: June 2013

It smells and tasted just like baked apple pie with cinnamon! You can even smell and taste the pastry! A little spirit notes comes through on the palate but its diluted so much you can hardly taste it. Great fun though!


Arkansas ‘Young Bourbon’ 46%

Tasted: Dec 2012

Nose: A very toffee’d nose and caramel heavy nose. Caramel drizzled corn puffs with a faintly astringent, almost peaty note. Buckets of peppery rye with hints of blackcurrant and uber sweet oak, which could be mistaken for French oak. Very winey. This is very bizarre and unusual, like crossing a bourbon with a new world shiraz! Warm and inviting with loads of creamy vanillins and hints of lightly toasted soya bean.

Palate: Lighter than the nose with a distinct rose petal marc note, interwoven with a light, winey, blackcurrant note. The ‘new world’ oak comes barrelling in trailing waves of delicious spice and liquorice. Not quite as complex as the nose but still very good.

Finish: An intense, marzipan and omnipresent sweet oak finish with hints of light, petally violets and take your breath away camphor. Monumental stuff!

Conclusion: Very flash and ‘in yer face’ An Auzzie/ American hybrid. Very unusual and I think it works really well. The purists will hate this!

Arkansas ‘Young Bourbon’ 46%

82% Arkansas Corn, 9% Arkansas Soft Red Winter Wheat, 9% Malted Barley

8 months maturation in 10 gallon (37ltr) and 15 gallon (56ltr) New charred American oak

Re- Tasted: June 2013

An explosively intense and lightly spiced nose with toasted corn and plenty of almost ‘French’ oak notes. Very fruity with hints of sultana, prune, dried grape, marzipan and malty spices. Soft, succulent with developing sandalwood and Java coffee. Oh, did I mention the spices? Oooh they’re stunningly crumbly and soft!

The palate is broad and juicy, opening with the lightly dried fruit and a serious corn intensity. Quite tannic with again a very ‘French’ oak character. Intense, nutty, wheat flake notes follow along with a touch of malt. For such a young spirit aged in very small casks the balance is very good and although it is quite oaky, it is not overblown. Superb length with the vanilla notes entwining with Java coffee, light pepper and sandalwood and finishing with an earthy, slightly buttery oak fade. Very more-ish!

5th Anniversary Bourbon (4 year old) 50%

A mashbill of 70% Arkansas Corn, 10% Arkansas Wheat and 20% Malted Barley

Aged in 35 gallon white oak ISC #4 char

Dist: 2011 Btl: Apr 2015/ Tasted: July 2016

The oily marzipan oak shows first on the nose followed by honey, fat-ish corn and dark wheat flakes with a light herbal edge. The youthful edginess of the spirit and the alcohol balance the sweet corn and oak. With time some rich, spicy, treacle coated fruit and earth appears.

The palate is wonderfully soft with oily corn and lightly charred oak notes. Some lightly herbal spirit notes appear along with a touch of wheat flakes, but the corn and honey balances and gives it a lovely natural, if slightly edgy feel. Long and wheaty with a superb sweet/ bitter balanced finish, showing dark chocolate coated marzipan and subtle spice.


Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon 56.5%

Barrel 227/ Btl: 2014(?)/ Tasted: Apr 2015

Exuberant, dark aromas of treacle and molasses. Very soft with just a hint of sweet corn and herbal rye. The oak is pretty heavy, you can really smell the char! However the sugars and the rye balance it very well and with time a light bacon fat and bbq meat appears.

The palate is lightly tannic, but the molasses, treacle and liquorice arrive promptly. Gently spiced and meaty with the rye adding some herbal notes and the corn fairly well hidden. Lovely length as the herbal and spice notes mingle with some almost creosote notes. Beautifully sweet finish with a touch of vanilla to lighten.

Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon 50%

Independent Stave Cask 107A

Dist: July 2012 Sample Drawn: Mar 2015 (Current Age 3 year & 7 months)

Tasted: Apr 2015

A fragrant and corn fat nose with hints of coffee, bitter chocolate and sweet vanilla. With time the oak becomes wonderfully buttery and scented. The herbal rye arrives eventually as does a light balsamic note. Stunningly deep.

The palate opens with the lightly bitter chocolate tannins followed by thick corn, treacle, herbal rye and a touch of citrus. Gently spiced middle with the generous herbal notes developing. Quite a dry finish as the chocolaty tannins bite. Light wood smoke after-taste. At this moment in time it could do with a little more sweetness to balance the oak.

Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon 50%

McGuiness Cask 161

Dist: Nov 2012 Sample Drawn Mar 2015 (Current Age 2 year & 4 months)

Tasted: Apr 2015

The nose is quite oily and reserved with hints of burnt bacon and an almost sherry cask richness. There is a very light corn input along with hints of wheat flakes, lightly herbal rye, dried prune and raisin. With time some sweet/ buttery vanillins appear. Beautifully soft.

The palate is as oily as the nose suggests with hints of Colombian coffee and rich dried fruit. Again the corn is quite reserved and the herbal rye and wood tannins build on the middle. The spirit shows its obvious youth with some marc-like notes on the middle and finish along with some crisp, biting, lightly bitter cinnamon and black pepper. Lingering bacon fat after-taste.


Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon 46%

Batch 1/ Tasted: Apr 2015

Pungent aromas of sour fruit, gristy wheat and corn along with lightly spiced rye and herbal rye. Edgy, fresh and citric with underlying creamy oak notes. In fact it has an almost French oak toastiness. With time hints of red berries, blackcurrant and malted barley appear.

The palate is soft and oily with the herbal rye showing first, showing against a lovely sour fruit back drop. The buttery/ toasty oak comes through along with hints of violets and berry fruit. Very herbal on the middle with hints of wheat/ bran flakes and treacle. Very long and very spicy a profusion of mouth-watering herbal spices and a touch of oily marzipan. Damn that’s good!

Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon 46%

62.5% corn, 12.5% wheat and 12.5% rye (all from Arkansas) and 12.5% malted barley.

Batch 2/Tasted: Dec 2015

Very intense and very sour aromas – crab apples, dusty spice, wheat flakes and hints of fat corn. The sweet oak comes through but it’s supportive rather than dominating. With time the herbal rye appears. Wonderfully soft but very vibrant too.

The palate opens with the earthy/ dusty spices. Very soily and dunnagey with hints of sour fruit, wheat, edgy, herbal, young rye and a subtle corn note, which adds weight. Long, oily and herbal finish with a touch of bitter spice and edgy wood tannins. Intense and very good!

Rock Town Distillery 4 Grain Sour Mash Bourbon 46%

Batch 2

Re-Tasted: Oct 2016

Young and intense on the nose with rose petal marc and edgy, herbal and spicy rye. The rye really punches above its weight here! Hints of sour sour fruit, earth and vanilla. Both the corn and oak notes are pretty subtle and with time some wheat flake notes appear.

The palate is young and earthy. Like the nose it opens with the rose petal marc and spicy rye, followed by sour fruit, dusty spice and herbal notes. The wheat comes through on the middle with a touch of treacle, drying tannins and plenty of herbal rye. Long, bitingly spicy finish with mouth-watering chocolaty spice, vanilla and earthy tannins. Lovely lingering sour fruit notes.


Hickory Smoked Whiskey 45%

91% Cold Smoked Arkansas Soft Red Winter Wheat, 9% Malted Barley.

Aged in used Bourbon barrels.

Tasted: June 2013

A young and slightly raw nose. Lightly oiled, quite pungent and slightly soapy to begin with before the gentle, sweet hickory smoke arrives along with a slight meatiness. Very whisky like as there is less oak influence, but it adds some subtle vanillins, which given some time to begin to assert themselves. With time the nose takes on a light starchy quality and a touch of pepper emerges.

Soft and wheaty on the palate with some light, sweet, hickory smoke. Again slightly meaty and youthful in character with an oily pungency. A little on the raw side but the wheatiness is very mouth-filling and a little marzipan oak adds weight. Good length with the light smoke lingering.

Hickory Smoked Whiskey Single Cask 55%

Wheated Mash Bill/ Ex Four Roses 53 gallon cask 143

Dist: Nov 2013 Sample Drawn: Mar 2015

Tasted: Apr 2015

Lovely aromas of distant earthy, hickory smoke with hints of herbal rye, wheat flakes, bran flakes, oily apricot and gentle, sweet vanilla. Considering its only 16 months old it is showing quite a bit of development.

The palate is dry and herbal. Lightly dunnagey, mushroomy and loamy with damp wheat flakes. Gently smoked with some gritty wood tannins and the herbal rye coming through strongly. Medium length with soe sweetness appearing to balance the alcohol and herbal notes. Late hints of hickory and mocha. Quite an oily after-taste.

  1. rfurzer says:

    Hi – do you have any info on price and whether you will be stocking this please? Thanks, Rick

    • gauntleys says:

      I have done some digging and it would appear that it is not available in the UK. However I have contacted the distillery to find out if they do export or if they have plans to do so. If I hear anything I’ll let you know.

      • rfurzer says:

        Thanks Chris – look fwd to hearing from you. Cheers, Rick

      • gauntleys says:

        Hi Rick
        Apaently they don’t have any plans as yet to export to the UK, however I have given them the details of an importer that brings in a couple of other American micro-distilleries bottlings, so maybe something will happen. Incidently the distillery are sending me some samples so I can do an episode of the Good Dram Show on them, so keep an eye on youtube for that!

  2. rfurzer says:

    Fingers crossed. Will keep an eye out for your reviews too (happy to help with any samples if you’ve any spare!) Cheers, Rick

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