I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Punch Media and Brown-Forman for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.
Way back in 2016, Brown-Forman released themselves a new bourbon brand. They called it Coopers’ Craft. It might seem to be a bit of an odd name, until you remember that Brown-Forman is the only major American Whiskey producer that also owns it’s own cooperage. I’d tell you that a cooperage is the place where barrels are made, but I’m sure you already knew that. I’m guessing that you also know that the men and women who make the barrels are called coopers too. So I’m not going to bother telling you that either.
So they named the bourbon Cooper’s Craft as a way to honor the people making their barrels. I thought it was a nice gesture and gladly accepted a sample of that initial release to review on the site. I liked it, but I was hoping for a bit more punch for the initial $29 price tag. It was more than a bit too gentle for my tastes. I’m guessing that comes, at least in part, from the “beech and birch charcoal filter finishing process” that the aged bourbon is put through.
For that reason, I was happy to see that the newest release in the Cooper’s Craft lineup, Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve, was being bottled at a respectable 100° proof. I was even happier to see that even though the juice starts out the same, the company was trying something different with the barrels that whiskey was being aged in. It makes sense that a bourbon honoring barrel-makers would play with the barrel a little bit. In the press release they say: “Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve is aged in a unique chiseled and charred American White Oak barrel that allows the whiskey to interact more deeply with the wood, creating a robust and more complex flavor profile.” That sounds like just what I was looking for: more proof and a more complex flavor.
And in more good news, the original Coopers’ Craft has come down in price since that initial release. It isn’t sold in my market so I hadn’t been keeping track of the price. The SRP is now around $22-24 for a 750 mL bottle. And that totally changes my feelings about the brand. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s remind ourselves how that original Cooper’s Craft tastes, shall we?
Coopers’ Craft Bourbon
Purchase info: This sample was graciously provided by the company for review purposes. The suggested retail price is between $21.99 and $23.99.
Details: 41.1% ABV. Uses a “beech and birch charcoal filter finishing process” according to the press release.
Nose: Wintergreen, almond, and vanilla pudding.
Mouth: A bit of a thin mouthfeel. The taste follows the nose with vanilla pudding, wintergreen, almond and a gentle baking spice.
Finish: Gentle with vanilla pudding, baking spice and hints of apple.
Thoughts: The marketing materials for Coopers’ Craft use the headline “Building a Gentler Bourbon" and they aren’t lying. This is a super gentle bourbon. I think the combination of price and flavor profile make this a great bourbon for someone just starting their bourbon journey. It has good flavor, but not so much heat that they start choking and sputtering because they aren’t used to the proof. That said, I like a bit more heat so while there is nothing wrong with this bourbon, it isn’t for me.
Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve Bourbon
Purchase info: This sample was graciously provided by the company for review purposes. The suggested retail price is between $29.99 and $32.99.
Details: 50% ABV. Uses a “chiseled and charred American White Oak barrel” according to the press release.
Nose: Oak, caramel, ginger and vanilla.
Mouth: Cinnamon candy, oak, ginger, caramel and vanilla.
Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering ginger, caramel and oak.
Thoughts: This is a damn fine bourbon. I like this one a lot. While the original may be better suited to the new bourbon drinker, this is much more aligned to my palate when consumed neat. It is spicy without being too hot and has a nice underlying sweetness to support the spice. Basically what I’m saying is that they next time I travel to Kentucky, a couple bottles of this will be coming home in my bags.
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