Review: Seventeen Twelve Carolina Bourbon

DSR – NC – 003: Seventeen Twelve North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Foothills Distillery, LLC

Location: Conover, NC

Mash Bill: Hedrick Corn, Hedrick Abruzzi Rye, and Riverbend Two-Row Malted Barley

Age Statement: Aged 24 Months

Proof/ABV: 86 Proof/43% ABV

Color: Watered down ice tea

Purchase Price: $33.00 at the NC ABC store

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label: “North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey”

“Barrel 64; Bottle 37”


“Small Batch”

“Barrel Rested in Oak & Yellow Birch”

“Aged 24 Months”

Back Label: “Distilled & Bottled by Foothills Distillery, LLC, Conover, NC”

“The bourbon in this bottle is some of the finest young bourbon to be produced. Made with hand-selected corn, rye, and malted barley from local Carolina farmers. It was doubled distilled, aged in new american oak barrels filled with yellow birch wood, then bottled without charcoal filtering resulting in an abundant flavor and hints of butterscotch. We are pleased to share our creation. Seventeen twelve is the first grown, distilled and aged bourbon in North Carolina since Prohibition.”

Distillery Background

Foothills Distillery, LLC

Foothills Distillery, LLC, located just outside of Hickory, North Carolina in the town of Conover, was founded by Zackary Cranford and Master Distiller Tim Weaver (Dec 24, 1963-Jan 30, 2017) in 2013. Foothills Distillery celebrates that its bourbon, Seventeen Twelve North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey, is “the first grown, distilled, and aged bourbon in North Carolina since Prohibition.” In order to accomplish this, the distillery has teamed up with local Hickory grain farmer Russell Hendrick of JRH Grain Farms, LLC. Mr. Hendrick supplies the distillery with the corn and Abruzzi rye needed to distill their products.

In addition to Seventeen Twelve Carolina Bourbon Whiskey, Foothills Distillery, LLC produces a 110 proof moonshine made of the same Hendrix corn, Abruzzi rye, and malted barley as its bourbon. This moonshine, known as Gatlin’ 110, was awarded Gold at the 2015 MicroLiquor Spirit awards and Silver by in 2016.

For more information and cocktail recipes visit the Foothills Distillery, LLC visit

Seventeen Twelve North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey

Seventeen Twelve North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey is made of grains grown near the distillery, distilled, and bottled all in Hickory, North Carolina. The Bourbon is aged approximately two years in new oak barrels with a slight twist of toasted yellow birch wood added for flavoring. Seventeen Twelve was awarded Gold at the 2015 Blue Ridge Spirits Competition and 2016 San Francisco International Spirits Competition.

Why the name Seventeen Twelve? Prior to 1712 it had become clear that the people living in the southern portion of the Carolina colony had much different needs and concerns of those seen as important to settlers in the northern sections. As a result, a split was deemed necessary and in 1712 the Carolina colony official divided into the North Carolina and South Carolina colonies. In May of 1712 Edward Hyde became the first Governor of North Carolina marking the fresh start for this area.

For more information on Seventeen Twelve Bourbon visit the website.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: March 29, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass


Christian: Earthly aromas dominate. Hints of green clay, allspice, rye grain all present. As weird as it sounds, the smell reminds me of wet cardboard. Addition of water brings out some floral notes and sweetness to the nose. Still remains rather earthy.

Mike: Initial pass offers a slightly musty odor. Very light hints of fresh pear or apple slices on the second pass, give it a light and fresh sweetness. Overall, the nose offers a whiskey that is young in age and has very little depth.


Christian: Very thin, almost the consistency of water. No coating on the mouth or tongue. Earthy tones carry through with tastes of green clay, moss, and nutty like peanuts. As the bourbon rolls to back of mouth, I catch slight hints of leather and straw/hay. Addition of water brings a slight taste of oak, floral rose, and clay. Pour remains flat however, any burn is essentially eliminated.

Mike: Earthy taste that gives way to very subtle flavors of pears. The heat of alcohol fills up my mouth quickly and dissipates the pear flavor almost instantly while the earthiness lingers.


Christian: Super dry finish. Earthy tones and peanut remain in mouth. Small trace of honey and rose as the finish dissipates. Hints of freshly mowed grass remain in aftertaste. Addition of water really didn’t change the finish much.

Mike: The finish on this is medium, dry and flat with virtually no burn. The earthy qualities seem to endure in the mouth after the sip has been imbibed.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Something seems amiss in this pour. Maybe it is the use of the toasted yellow birch that is creating the earthy flavors to this bourbon. It is not a usual practice and likely is bringing an unexpected influence to this pour. I am left wondering if this bottle was from a batch that wasn’t quite finished or something, as it just seemed a little off to me. I tasted this bourbon on three different occasions and days, with little change of opinion on the nose, mouth, or finish of this bourbon. I hate to say this about any bourbon, but I just don’t think Seventeen Twelve and I are a good match.

Rating: 1.00 Rickhouses

Mike: I really don’t know what to say about this bourbon from Seventeen Twelve. Perhaps the batch is off somehow or maybe the flavor profile is exactly what they are going for, but I was not blown away. The nose matched the flavor and at 86 proof, this offering left me wanting something different.

The price for this product is bearable, coming in the low to mid-$30 range, which is one of the cheaper options for a local craft distillery and the bottle does present well on the shelf. However, there are many national brands that are better and cheaper.

It is interesting to point out that the color is identical to another whiskey we just recently reviewed that was aged 6 years, however, this product states it was aged 24 months. Not sure if this distillery is aging in smaller barrels or using quick aging methods. I compared both in the bottle and in a Glencarin glass.

Rating: 1.25 Rickhouses

Conclusion: Foothills Distillery, LLC uses fresh local grains grown by Russell Hendricks, double distills, and bottles its Seventeen Twelve North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey at 86 proof. The mash bill of corn, rye, and malted barley are aged to about 2 years old in oak barrels that have added toasted birch in them. The result is a very earthy (not like scotch) bourbon that is different than many other bourbons we have tried.

The sales price of $33.00 at the NC ABC store does not create a barrier to purchase for most, however, it does seem high compared to other available products with similar characteristics.

This offering from Foothills Distillery just left a lot to be desired. Maybe it is the toasted birch that created the unusual flavor. It is possible that our bottle came from a batch that doesn’t show the true identity of this bourbon (which can happen in small batch bottling). For now, I think this is a bourbon we will pass on and maybe try when a friend or bar has it to taste again. It might even be a good mixing bourbon for an Old Fashioned. Perhaps then we can determine if we just caught a subpar batch or if this is the normal flavor profile for Seventeen Twelve Bourbon.


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