I remember when Brown-Forman introduced Coopers’ Craft to their lineup in 2016 – the first addition in more than 20 years. Offering filtration through beech and charcoal, it was meant to be an easy drinking spirit. I was excited to try it as I’ve had a soft spot for other BF offerings, including the signature Old Foresters, the Whiskey Row Series, and its premium offering – Woodford Reserve. Now, 3 years later, they have introduced a new offering in the series – Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve.
A Tribute to the 50%
In bourbon, 50% of the flavor comes from the barrel – both the wood and char used, as well as how long the product ages in the barrel. Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve is the latest tribute to the barrel and the coopers who make them. This year’s new addition states the uniqueness is in the barrel itself, that have “post-char chiseled interiors [which] deepens the whiskey’s wood exposure creating a robust taste profile”.
The bottle is lovely, with wide shoulders and an antiqued label featuring a woodcut rendition of the Old Forester Cooperage. There is no age statement, but is assumed to be 4+ years. The mashbill is 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley and it is bottled at 100 proof
Color: Dark caramel with reddish tones – definitely a tribute to the wood. I’m reminded of the wonderful Old Forester 1910.
Nose: Some initial alcohol notes, but those dissipated quickly. Plenty of sweet vanilla and caramel followed by toasted oak – like you just slipped into an old, well-aged rickhouse. There’s also hints of light mint and cinnamon.
Palate: Vanilla, spice, and a dry oaky flavor and even hint of dry leather. The mouthfeel is light and slippery, with a Pop-Rocks spiciness as it hits all the buds on my tongue. The charred oak is dialed up here, too.
Finish: Medium-long with more green pepper spiciness and a dry, toasted wood.
Overall: This is a decent bourbon. It’s not overly complicated and is straight-forward. The original Coopers’ Craft came out at 82.2 proof; and this rendition is significantly higher. At around $30 a bottle, it’s not too distant from its siblings – Old Forester Classic 86 and Signature 100.
The flavor profile is dialed up from the Signature 100, with a bit more spice and oak. This is an interesting expression and one you can easily enjoy neat, with a cube, or a nice old fashioned as you thank all of the coopers who work tirelessly to bring us a great pour at the end of the day.