DSR-VA-019: River Hill 100 Bourbon Whiskey
Company/Distillery: River Hill Wine and Spirits, LLC
Location: Luray, Virginia
Mash Bill: 100% Corn
Age Statement: 12 Months
Proof/ABV: 100 Proof/50% ABV
Color & Viscosity: River Hill 100 Bourbon produces a light tawny color while viewing its contents from the bottle. In the glass, the 100% corn bourbon is chestnut in appearance. Tilting the whiskey glass to the side, the bourbon leaves a thin viscous line then immediately progresses into pin head sized droplets. The droplets become a medium sized lip then large droplets of whiskey form to drip down the inside of the tasting vessel like melting wax.
Purchase Price: $25.09 from the Distillery; 750 ml Bottle
Bottle Label Information:
“River Hill 100 Bourbon Whiskey”
“100% Corn | 100 Proof”
“Distilled and bottled by River Hill Wine and Spirits, LLC, Luray, Virginia”
“Our family has been farming in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for over two hundred years. We at River Hill Wine and Spirits take pride in the fact that most of the ingredients in this product are carefully grown, distilled, and aged in small quantities at the farm. Enjoy our whiskey, but please drink responsibly. – Fred Foley ”
“Aged 12 Months in Charred Oak Barrel No. 48 | Bottle No. 22 | Filled by FF”
Founded in 2014 by Fred and Amy Foley, River Hill Distillery calls Luray, Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley home. Just a short drive from Front Royal, Virginia or Charlottesville, Virginia, River Hill Distillery is located on the same land farmed by the Foley Family for approximately 200 years – just a short stones throw from the well-known Luray Caverns. Mr. and Mrs. Foley decided to diversify their farm operation by first opening a boarding stable for horses and eventually opening up their winery and distillery.
All of the corn used in the production of this bourbon whiskey is grown on the farm at River Hill. Some of the corn is used to feed their cattle while the rest is used in the production of their traditional River Hill Bourbon Whiskey and their 100% Corn Bourbon Whiskey.
Additional products include River Hill Corn Whiskey, River Hill Peach Corn Whiskey, and several different seasonal offerings of fruit wines.
A brief video of the distillery with an interview by Mr. Foley can be located on YouTube by Virginia Spirits.
Tasting Date/Vessel: July 9, 2022 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a couple drops of distilled water.
Christian: In the bottle, the nose on River Hill Distillery’s 100 Bourbon is quite sweet! Rich brown sugar and roasted or grilled corn on the cob permeate from the bottle. There is just a slight touch of smokiness present as well. Finally, I notice a very light honey roasted peanut aroma. This whiskey is very unique when experiencing its nose from the bottle. In my Glencairn glass, the 100% corn whiskey stands out with an assortment of deep earthy flavors. Green Virginia Peanuts, leaning almost to the aroma of boiled peanuts (just the touch of brininess) is noticeable at first. As I go back for another sniff I notice a decent amount of butteriness which lends a touch of richness to the pour. A quick swirl really brings forward the smokiness of roasted corn on the cob. This is 100% corn so as expected, corn is the dominant note here but what is surprising is how it kind of shows itself in several different forms – buttered and roasted over open flame. Adding a small amount of water to this pour really sweetens up the nose. Sweet kettle corn made with smoked caramel or butterscotch really pulls forward nicely. Notes of green peanuts remain present as well.
Mike: As I dive nose first into the bottle, this 100% corn bourbon from River Hill offers a delightful aroma of salted peanuts in the shell. If you’re thinking of a freshly opened bag of your favorite ballpark peanuts then you’re spot-on and you’ll love how this whiskey starts out. As I continue nosing from the bottle, the ballpark peanut aromas give way to soft notes of brown sugar then transition to honey roasted peanuts.
As this whiskey sits in the glass, waves of pea-nutty goodness can be detected several inches away. Drawing the glass closer to my nose, hints of earthy hay or dried alfalfa present alongside young, green peanuts. A swirl of the glass releases your typical ethanol tones then a soft buttery aroma develops. As the bourbon settles in the tasting vessel, a second pass through reveals qualities of dry roasted peanuts.
Christian: The mouthfeel associated with this bourbon is light but perhaps a bit unrefined. It is not gritty or unpleasant, but just feels like it could be developed more. On the palate, the whiskey is just a corn bomb first and foremost. Freshly boiled corn on the cob, just a touch of all natural butter, and the earthiness from the corn silk, cob, and husk. Again, a smokiness is clearly present and almost poses as green Virginia peanuts (unsalted) or even as mentioned before, boiled peanuts. This has a moonshine quality to it that tries and sneaks through the sipping experience. The addition of water really softens the mouthfeel of this whiskey. An earthiness remains but with just a little bit more sugary components added to the mix. Maybe a little more cream corn than straight corn on the cob.
Mike: The overall mouthfeel of this River Hill 100 Bourbon carries a medium body and a pleasant saccharinity. Flavors of sweet corn, roasted and salted peanuts hit first as subtle notes of cinnamon balance out the earthiness. This 100% corn whiskey becomes dry on the palate late as a black pepper spice wells up to tickle your throat and warm things up just a bit.
Christian: This whiskey sits nicely on the tongue and welcomes a medium to long finish that brings plenty of heat as it slides down the throat to the chest. I will note, a few additional sips allows the finish to really tame itself. On the back-end I continue to pick up loads of sweet corn, a smidgen of the new oak barrel char, peanuts, and leather. Water really makes this finish mild and open to a larger spectrum of tasters. Earthy peanuts, freshly cut hay, and just a touch of bitterness from the oak barrel remain.
Mike: This whiskey offers a medium to long finish overall. It starts with a brisk punch of heat then settles in with a long and soothing cinder into the chest. Very respectable and desirable finish going on here. Not long after the bourbon has been imbibed, you’re left with a tremendous suggestion of dry roasted peanuts or natural peanut butter.
Christian: River Hill 100% Corn Whiskey Bourbon offers a lighter, less bold experience than traditional bourbons – almost leans a bit scotch in nature. I do believe that using a new charred oak barrel really ramps up the flavors present versus other similar offerings. Like other 100% corn whiskey offerings or moonshine products, you have to be in the mood for this pour. Both times I have sipped on it, I have found the flavors enjoyable and unique. Is this pour traditional in profile or tasting experience, no. If that is what you are looking for then you probably will want to turn elsewhere. But when looking for a little change of pace in flavor profile and overall tasting experience then give this one a go.
Rating: 2.65 Rickhouses
Mike: This River Hill 100% Corn Whiskey Bourbon is very unique. Seemingly simplistic in flavor being that it is very corn and peanut forward, those flavors run the gamut from nose to mouth to finish. This is Mellow Corn on steroids and though much younger in age, benefits from time in a NEW charred oak barrel, unlike the Heaven Hill expression. This bourbon may not be for everyone, but if you are a fan of Mellow Corn and in the Virginia area where this is produced, you definitely will appreciate what River Hill has done here.
All that said, I’m torn on how to rate this. There is nothing traditional about this bourbon, which can be good or bad. For me, I relish its uniqueness. Flavor wise, while intricate, transitioning through many levels of corn and peanut piquancy, it is rather unambiguous and mono-tonal. But for me, that gives it some unassuming flare, so for that, my Rickhouse Rating “is what it is”!
Rating: 3.0 Rickhouses