Pappy Van Winkle makes some of the most sought-after bourbons…
I love it when I am able to visit the tasting room of a winery or a distillery, especially when it is a smaller operation and you can talk to the people who are making the product. Not only do you get more insight into what they’re making, but you also get a sense of the passion and care that goes into it. I always try to visit tasting rooms when I’m traveling, and occasionally have the opportunity to virtually visit one when I’m not able to be there in person. This was the case with Coppercraft Distillery, a small production distillery located in Holland, Michigan. I recently had the pleasure of tasting the current lineup from this young company and was able to do it remotely with the help of their GM, Jenney Grant, who gave me the full tasting room experience via phone as I tasted.
The team at Coppercraft is small and passionate, and you can tell that as soon as you start talking to them about their spirits. Their goal is to produce delicious, drinkable spirits using local ingredients. So, for instance, all of their grains they use are sourced within about 10 miles of the distillery. As a small distillery run by a small group, they have the opportunity to experiment and play with flavors to produce spirits that are excellent on their own and great in a cocktail.
Coppercraft Gin – This gin is a very modern, dry gin made with a blend in 13 different botanicals. It is crisp and refreshing, with a strong presence of citrusy lemongrass and coriander in the body and a hint of spice from cinnamon and nutmeg in the aftertaste.
Coppercraft Rum – Rum is a spirit that I often think is under-appreciated, but no one could take Coppercraft’s white rum for granted. The rum is made with 80% molasses and 20% cane juice, and it has a complex sweetness with a strong molasses flavor and spice, The finish has a clean grassy note that is similar to the flavor of a rhum agricole. An aged version of this rum is in barrels now and I can’t wait to taste that one. (Recipe: Grass Skirt)
Coppercraft Vodka – This is an exceptionally smooth vodka that really stands on its own. It has an unusually complex flavor profile that that is reminiscent of gin, with notes of cucumber, anise, mint and pepper. It also has a fantastic texture that leaves you with a slow, sweet finish. (Recipe: Vodka Old Fashioned)
Coppercraft Citrus Vodka – Citrus vodka isn’t usually my favorite spirit, but I was very impressed with the amount of flavor in this bottle. It is loaded with so much citrus flavor that it almost tastes like a limoncello. The vodka is steeped in lemons, oranges and grapefruits and simply filtered, not redistilled, so it retains all the intensity of the citrus along with the smoothness of the base spirit.
Coppercraft Applejack – This applejack is made with locally-produced Virtue Cider and is aged in used bourbon barrels for 6-9 months before bottling. It has a very fresh, sweet-tart apple flavor with a hint of oak, and one taste makes you think of the fall apple baking season.
It was very exciting to get to taste Coppercraft’s whiskey selections, which were just released a few weeks ago. These initial launches are extremely small batch whiskeys, with less than 1000 375 ml bottles available, and they are the first aged spirits from Coppercraft. They still have plenty in barrels that is yet to be released, and their first bourbon release is on the horizon. If these are any indication, I can’t wait to see them.
Coppercraft 100% Corn Whiskey – Distilleries typically release their high corn whiskeys unaged or wait for them to become bourbon, but I am very glad that this lightly aged corn whiskey is available because it has a very complex flavor all on its own. It smells of fresh sweet corn and spice, but has a bold combination of pepper, oak and caramel corn on the palate that makes it a lot of fun to drink.
Coppercraft Rye Whiskey – This rye is made with 75% locally grown rye. You’ll pick up leather, dried fruit and honey in the nose, and taste a blend of sharp pepper and bittersweet cocoa, with a hint of sweetness that lingers on the finish. It is well-balanced and easy to drink.
Coppercraft High Wheat Whiskey – The high wheat whiskey is produced using locally grown Michigan red wheat. It has a distinct scent of honey, almonds and malty pancakes. You pick up more of the malt in the body of the whiskey, along with flavors of bread and toffee.
For now, the best place to get Coppercraft is at the tasting room at their distillery, but it is also being served at local bars and restaurants in Michigan and in Chicago. Hopefully, as their production increases, you’ll be able to order directly from them or – better yet – find them in your local spirit retailers.