By Father John Rayls
Brown-Forman Beverages is now producing Coopers’ Craft Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It’s the first new bourbon produced by this 70+ year old company in over 20 years. The founder of Brown-Forman, George Garvin Brown, began bottling whiskey over 150 years ago. Of course, Brown-Forman is the only major whiskey producer that raises and creates its own barrels. The Coopers’ Craft Bourbon is a recognition of the influence of the wooden barrels on the overall appearance and flavor of bourbon. Chris Morris, Master Distiller for Brown-Forman, believes the wood in the barrel delivers all the color and over half the flavor. It’s a NAS (no age statement) bourbon that is at least 2 years old, but likely a blend of 4 – 6 year old whiskeys. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information available on the aging process or the makeup of the mash except that it has less rye and more corn than some of the company’s other offerings. This is the parent company of Jack Daniels and also produces Woodford Reserve, Early Times and Old Forester. Coopers’ Craft is produced using a special beech and birch charcoal filtering system. Don’t be surprised if you detect some similar flavors to a Tennessee style whiskey.
Coopers’ Craft Bourbon has a typical beautiful copper color in the glass. The legs are thin, but very apparent and the whiskey easily swirls in the glass. Light reflecting off of and through the bourbon shimmers with golden highlights. At 82.2 proof,
there is no alcohol burn on the nose. It is a very subtle nose. There is a light cereal aroma with very light hints of fruit over a vanilla and faint oak background.
This is not a complex whiskey. It’s pretty straight forward in its flavor profile. It is an easy drinking bourbon with most of the action taking place directly on the tongue near the back. It brings a light vanilla flavor on top of a light charred oakiness. The flavor is light, but pleasant. It’s not over powering, but leaves hints of light fruit. The first taste left me a little under-whelmed. However, it quickly began to grow on me and became quite enjoyable. The finish is medium and continues to linger with a very light spiciness. Many have described this bourbon as a good mixer (think Kentucky Mule) or as an introductory bourbon experience for newbies. It’s actually more than that and can be enjoyed as a regular sipper.
The local area rep in San Antonio for Brown-Forman couldn’t believe The Whiskey Reviewer had gotten its hands on this whiskey. Apparently, it is the only bottle in Texas. Coopers’ Craft Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey is a being offered at $29.99 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee beginning in early July. For the price, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. I would certainly suggest drinking it neat first and then trying it as a mixer. Spend some time really examining what it brings to the table.