Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
The Pacific Northwest, a land of trees, waterfalls, bicycling hipsters, and an average of 150 days or more of rain a year. This region of the U.S. is also a hub of creation, featuring tons of micro-distilleries and breweries. In particular, the emergence of the wildly popular American Single Malt Whiskey has been a staple of the PNW, with brands such as Westland Distillery, Westward Whiskey, and Hood River Distillers’ McCarthy’s routinely popping up on internet lists of best whiskeys to try.
For those unfamiliar with the category, American Single Malt Whisky is not yet an official category, as of the posting of this article. However, the U.S. Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) has finally published a notice to standardize the category with specific requirements, including that the spirit 1) made from 100% malted barley, 2) distilled from one distillery, 3) must be mashed, distilled, and matured in the U.S, and 4) the maturation must be done in oak casks.
A lesser known Seattle-based distillery, Copperworks Distilling Co., has been quietly pushing the category forward and producing single batch American Single Malt Whiskeys for the past few years. Founders Jason Parker and Micah Nutt opened the distillery in 2013 and have recently released their 47th American Single Malt Whiskey, a series they started around 2016.
This commitment comes as no surprise as Parker led Copperworks to become a founding member of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission. “Just as the American Single Malt Whiskey category gains more recognition on the global stage, demand for Copperworks spirits continues to rise at home– and now, abroad!” said Parker.
Release 047 is a combination of 13 separate casks, including four from Copperworks Five Malt recipe and nine from Baronesse Pale Malt, a German varietal of malt typically used for brewing beer and which grows easily in the PNW. While the malt may differ, each aging cask was a new American Oak barrel with char #2, an uncommon level of char, most often used to finish a whiskey with light caramel and vanilla notes.
The whiskey is aged between three and four years before being blended, which is fairly young for a whiskey.
In review, I found Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey, release #047, surprisingly smooth given its young age. It demonstrated more complexity than other American Single Malt Whiskeys, using relatively light caramel and oak flavors and emphasizing the pomme and malt flavors prominent in Scotch style whisky. Whether from the use of heavier char or longer aging, most American single Malts I’ve tried tend to use a heavier hand with the charred oak, producing flavors more akin to a bourbon.
However, what the whiskey gains in complexity it loses in intensity and the $69.99 price tag feel a bit steep. The finish in particular is unexpectedly sharp and it feels like a longer aging or a finishing in rum or brandy casks would have added a needed flair to the dram.
Tasting Notes: Copperworks Distilling American Single Malt #047
Vital Stats: Aged 3 to 4 years in charred American Oak. 100 proof (50% ABV). $69.99/750ml.
Appearance: Rich orange with a yellow hue.
Nose: Cinnamon and apple spice lightly assault the nose with cedar and anise rising behind. There are small amounts of dried fig lingering on the edges.
Palate: Smooth and young, warm honey and nutmeg mix gently with caramel over spicy ginger. The middle of the palate has dried apricot, which gives way to stronger charred oak and malt flavors. The finish has a distinct sharp grassy taste, identified as eucalyptus.
Read the full article at Whiskey Review: Copperworks Distilling American Single Malt #047