Producer: Copper & Kings. ABV: 55.5%. No age statement. Price: $50.
More magic from Copper & Kings, the Kentucky bourbon-lover’s Kentucky brandy maker. They’re already busy converting bourbon drinkers with their Butchertown barrel strength brandy. Now with their Craftwerk series, they’re about to be the craft beer-lover’s brandy maker too.
The series salutes the “balls to the wall creativity” of four craft brewers by finishing Copper & Kings’ powerful pot still brandy for 12 months in the brewers’ beer barrels: there’s a a Sierra Nevada Smoked Porter, a Three Floyds Brewing Russian Imperial Stout, an Against the Grain Brewery Smoked Scotch Ale, and an Oskar Blues IPA.
The whole line is insanely fun. They invoke Seven Stills‘ beer-finished (and beer-distilled) malt whiskies, but with extra body and ripe fruit from the brandy base.
The Sierra Nevada Smoked Porter finish takes the brandy’s fruit core in a distinctly chocolatey direction. With time and water, you’ll get toasty cookie-bottom notes, together with candied lemon and a slight beeriness on the finish.
The Against the Grain Scotch Ale finish starts with more barrel notes on the nose–oak and cedar–then Tootsie Roll. The smoke comes through on the palate, more pronouced than with the Smoked Porter finish. Very well intergrated. The finish is dark and raisiny, reminiscent of a port-finished bourbon–or even a rye! I found myself in the mind of High West’s excellent Midwinter Night’s Dram.
The Three Floyds Imperial Stout finish starts with a ton of chocolate, darker than the Smoked Porter’s, and drizzled over a Belgian waffle. The palate recalls the Seven Stills Chocasmoke, but with a more substantial body (little wonder at 55.5% ABV). There’s macerated apple peel and baking cocoa on the palate. The beeriness interacts with the cognac fruit in fascinating ways on the finish: is that smoked key lime pie?
The Oskar Blues IPA finish was my least favorite of the bunch, but that didn’t surprise me: overly hoppy IPAs aren’t my favorite in the beer world either. The hops come through here in a way that’ll be familiar if you’ve tried hop-finished whiskies like the Charbay: green and floral and bitter and sweet in a way that strikes me as soapy. If you like the Charbay, though, you’ll likely enjoy this too.
All in all, I’m as impressed by the Craftwerk series as by everything else I’ve tried from Copper & Kings so far. If it’s not in your area, check K&L Wines online–they ship, and they’ve got three of these in stock at the moment, together with the Butchertown and Small Batch American Brandy.
Here’s to the balls to the wall creativity of the good folks in Louisville. Cheers, friends! – BO
Copper & Kings graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.