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Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky Review

Distiller: Copper Fox. ABV: 48%. Age: 14 months. Price: $40-45.

Virginia’s Copper Fox Distillery has been at the American single malt game for a while, relatively speaking: their Wasmund’s Single Malt first hit shelves in 2007. The distillery’s trademark is using fruit woods both to smoke their grain, and in maturation (wood chips in the barrel). We recently reviewed their Copper Fox Rye (see axisofwhisky.com), which I think works wonderfully. There seems to be something about the natural robustness and spice of rye grain that often works well with unusual finishes–see High West’s Midwinter Night’s Dram, etc.

So what about the Wasmund’s Single Malt? It’s made with all Virginia barley, aged a mere 14 months with the aforesaid apple and cherry wood chips in the barrel, and bottled at a healthy 48% ABV. On the nose: smoked prunes. Bitter orange. A little murky, a little syrupy. And there’s a rubbery note that I struggled to identify until it hit me right between the eyes: fresh tennis ball!

Palate: wow. There’s a lot going on here. Tons of clove. Wet cinnamon stick. Vanilla bean. Citrus, but also on the dry side. Heavy body. With the super-saturated flavors, this nearly shades toward an amaro. The finish adds black pepper and orange rind.

Overall, it strikes me as a fine argument for American single malt as a genre all its own, one that revels in wildness and unpredictability. I enjoyed this most drinking it not alongside Scottish single malts, or even more traditional, scotch-style Americans, but as a sui generis sipper. It definitely deserves attention from adventurous mixologists too: it’s got body, punch, and a ton of citrus and spice elements to play with.

Here’s to breaking the mold, friends! Cheers! -BO

Copper Fox Rye Review

Distillery: Copper Fox. ABV: 45%. Age: 18 months. Mashbill: 2/3 Virginia rye, 1/3 malted Virginia barley. Price: $45.

Copper Fox is a Virginia distillery founded by one Mr. Rick Wasmund in 2005. He was intrigued by Scottish malts but wanted his own products to have a distinctly American flavor, and after years of exploration and experimentation, he landed on fruitwoods as his focus.

Hence this Copper Fox Rye, which is made from an unusual mashbill 2/3 local rye and 1/3 malted local barley–far more usual in American rye is a significant portion of corn. The barley is kiln-dried with smoke from a mix of 60% apple wood and 40% cherry wood. The juice is aged 18 months in ex-bourbon barrels with some apple wood and oak chips thrown in for good measure.

Just for fun, I had this side-by-side with the Four Kings Rye (very tasty), and this is by far the more unique of the two. The nose is dark and enigmatic. Earthy, loamy, with some sort of wildflower I couldn’t place. Molasses. Carrot cake. The palate adds cooked sugar, apples, and a touch of sweet campfire smoke. Some rye spice in there, but it’s wrapped up in a heady mix of darker fruit notes. Medium-long finish with just a hint at the youth that the other flavors mostly round out. The more time you give it in the glass, the more it yields.

Never had another rye like it. The grain’s undergoing a heck of a renaissance at the moment, and the Copper Fox is a fascinating study in how well it stands up to experimentation. (High West’s Midwinter Night’s Dram, Willett’s XCF, and Alberta’s Dark Batch Rye are others.) Craft whiskey adventurers, check this one out! -BO

Copper Fox graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.