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  • Writer's picturePeter Miles

There's a single malt in them thar Goochland hills.

Hilltop Distillery

Hilltop is a family run craft distillery in Goochland, a few miles north west of Richmond. Situated on top of a sharp hill overlooking woods that run down to the James river, it is a great location to visit. This distillery, in operation for just a few years, controls the entire process from mashing the malt through maturation. It uses traditional processing methods in a sparkling clean production area that can be seen from the tasting room, complete with new stills. Maturation in new oak barrels is carried out in an adjacent warehouse. Products include a full range of flavored ‘Gooch Houch’ moonshine, vodka, bourbon and whiskey.

For those living in central Virginia, this friendly place is well worth a visit. There is seating inside and out, and live music on Saturdays.

Virginia Single Malt Whiskey.

The Hilltop Single Malt Whiskey is produced from a mix of American and Irish malt. Unlike most single malts, this one is matured ‘bourbon style’ with brand new American oak barrels.

Mash bill: 100% barley malt.

Batch: None recorded on bottle

Matured: 12+ months in first use American oak barrels, ABV = 40%.

Cost: $38 / 750ml bottle

Color: Pale Gold: 0.3 (Whisky Magazine scale).

Swirl: Moderate rim created with short ‘legs’ dripping down the glass.

Nose: Straightforward, led by cereal aromas and vanilla crème cookies, some wood polish and a perhaps a faint hint of licorice.

Taste: Moderate viscosity and pleasant on the tongue. Balanced, with plenty of fresh oak wood notes up front joined by a slightly astringent bittersweet orange chocolate. Heat builds but never becomes overbearing, thanks to the choice of a 40% ABV. A splash of water brings out a hint of tropical fruitiness, melon perhaps. A light, laid back flavor profile.

Finish: Fairly short with the oak fading away gently.

Verdict: For a one-year-old single malt this whiskey is surprisingly smooth and easy drinking. Obviously, at this age it is light and it reminds me of some of the better young Japanese whiskies. I have found that with whiskies of this age it is best to swirl and leave them for a minute or two to 'air out' before tasting. A good day time sipper of a whiskey and a bargain at the price.

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