Cooper's Craft Bourbon and Coopers' Craft Barrel Reserve Bourbon

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.

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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.

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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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My Wandering Eye: Tequila Clase Azul Reposado

My Wandering Eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. My hope is to see if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point. And please remember, these will all be from the perspective of someone who basically only drinks bourbon.

I wanted to buy my wife something for Christmas that would be just hers. I’ve always felt just a little like Homer buying Marge a bowling ball when I get her bourbon as a gift. I mean it’s for her, but we both know it’s really for both of us. So this summer, based on an uptick in tequila based cocktails that were requested, I asked her if she had ever thought about buying one that she would sip neat. She said she had not and I let the matter sit.

See that’s what 21 years of marriage has taught me. You might go buy it on Christmas Eve, but you start planning early for what you’ll buy.

So, I did what any category novice would do. I went to the Total Wine website, sorted by price (highest first) and worked my way down while cross referencing it with random reviews online since I was unable to find anyone conveniently writing a “TequilaGuy'“ site out there.

Ultimately I ended up going with a Reposado Tequila from Clase Azul. The reviews made it sound good. The company website said it was designed to be consumed neat. And it came in a very pretty ceramic bottle that was hand sculpted and hand painted.

I mean it was a gift after all.

Tequila Clase Azul Reposado

Purchase Info: $71.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 40% ABV. Aged 8 months in oak barrels.

Nose: Creamy and sweet with vanilla bean and delicate caramel. This smells like an amazing ice cream or shortbread cookie.

Mouth: Nice mouthfeel. Follows the nose. Sweet with vanilla and delicate caramel. There is a fruity undertone.

Finish: Delicate and syrupy. Lingering notes of milk chocolate and caramel.

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Thoughts: Folks, I am here to tell you that I done good. My wife was very happy with this gift. She already has plans for what I am going to be doing with the bottle once she empties it. She enjoys drinking it on the occasions that she wants something a bit more smooth and gentle than her typical glass of bourbon. On more than one occasion, I walked into the room only to find her smelling the nose of the bottle. And I don’t blame her for that. This has an amazing nose. She has in her notes: “I could sit and smell this all day.” She really likes this

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Now I am not usually a tequila fan, but then I’ve really only ever had inexpensive tequila in cocktails. I’ve never found one that I could make it past the first sip of much less sit down to enjoy a glass. This, however, is missing all the things that I used to identify as “tequila flavor” and is something I would happily accept a glass of. I’m not exactly a fan. It is something that I can appreciate more than it is something I like. It just doesn’t quite align with my tastes. But it does show me that I need to do a little more exploring in this category before writing it off completely.


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Three Whiskeys from Filibuster Distillery

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank the folks at Filibuster Distillery for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion.

I’ve gotten used to whiskey showing up at my house. It took a while, but now that it happens about once a month or so, it is getting to be old hat. Usually it starts like this:

Hi Eric,

I stumbled across your blog and was very excited about it!

I was wondering if you’d be willing to review our (fill in the blank). 

They almost always just stumbled across my site and are always excited by it or are enjoying it so far. In return, I almost always say yes when someone comes out and offers me free whiskey. I mean it’s free whiskey. Even if it isn’t any good, I’m sure I can find something to do with it after the post goes live.

Most often, I’ll get a notification from UPS or FedEx, within a few days of replying in the affirmative, that there is a package on its way to me. Sometimes I tell them yes, and nothing happens. But one thing that never happens is that a sample shows that I didn’t have an email about first. Mostly because that is really the only way to get my physical address, which is obviously needed in order to ship something to me.

So, when a box of whiskey bottles showed up in mid-December from Virginia and I didn’t have a record of an email correspondence? Yeah. I was confused. I am an email hoarder. I almost never delete an email. And even if I do, I never empty my trash. I said above that “Filibuster Distillery” sent these to me because I honestly have no other idea as to who did.

Looking through their website, I come away impressed by the company. It is a woman, and minority, owned business. One of the ad agencies I worked for was the same, it’s something to be proud of. Unlike many of the folks that enter the craft spirits business, they aren’t strangers to the spirits business, having “experience in specialty spirits retail.” Plus they seem to be doing a lot of things on the distillery side to run an environmentally friendly operation. They do source some of their whiskey, but based on their labeling they also distill some as well. Based on their website, they seem to cask-finish a lot of their products in wine barrels. Seems like a good operation.

So then I ran into some questions. The bottle lists the bourbon as “aged for less than four years in new charred oak casks,” but the website states that it “is a blend of older and younger barrels – 4-6 year being typical.” Their bourbon is described on the bottle as a straight bourbon. It also says that it was “Bottled by Filibuster” as well as being “Distilled in Virginia and Indiana” thus disqualifying it from the straight designation (as per §5.22(b)(1)(iii)). The Boondoggler whiskey doesn’t use the straight designation. It seems to be a blend of different styles of whiskey. Once again this one states it was aged “for less that years” [sic]. The rye says that it is “Bottled by Filibuster Distillery” and doesn’t mention a state of distillation.

So now I am throughly confused. I’m not sure who sent this to me or how it got here and I have no idea which of the information they are using is correct as the website contradicts the label and sections of the label contradict other sections. I reached out to the distillery in mid-December via the contact form on their website to try to get these questions answered, but didn’t receive a response prior to publication time.

However, one thing I am not confused by is whether I like them or not.

Filibuster Dual Cask Bourbon

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $42.99.

Details: Batch 27. 45% ABV. The label lists a mash of 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% barley.

Nose: Cinnamon, honey, light mint and some dried grain notes.

Mouth: Warm with cinnamon red hots, cherry and some oaky notes.

Finish: On the short end of medium and warm. Lingering notes of black pepper and coconut.

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Thoughts: This has notes of both mature whiskey and very young whiskey. Which would make sense if they are blending some of their juice with MGP as the label seems to describe. The problem is that unlike some people who have done this very successfully, this one is a bit all over the place in terms of flavor profile. Not a fan of this one. Pretty meh. It’s ok but doesn’t align with my palate. It might do ok in a cocktail though where other ingredients can smooth over some of the rough spots of this one.

Filibuster Dual Cask Rye

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $43.49.

Details: Batch 8. 45% ABV. The label lists a mash of 90% corn and 10% barley.

Nose: Mint, pipe tobacco, dried grasses.

Mouth: Spicy, mint, cherry.

Finish: Spicy and of medium length. Lingering sweetness, mint, spice and a hint of coconut.

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Thoughts: This tastes a lot like MGP rye and with the mashbill they list, that makes sense. 90/10 It isn’t far off from 95/5. In fact, based on the fact that their other styles list Indiana as a state of distillation, I had assumed it was until I read the back label.

I like this one. But then I am a fan of the MGP style of rye. This one does say “Bottled by” on the back and there is no listing for a state of distillation. The price is in line with other ryes on the market so I’d say that this one is worth a shot if you can get past the confusion on the label.

Filibuster “The Boondoggler” Whiskey

Purchase info: This review sample was provided by the distillery for the purposes of this review. It sells at Total Wine locally for $33.99.

Details: Batch 20. 45% ABV.

Nose: There is a good hit of rye spices right off the bat with mint and honey coming along with it.

Mouth: Honey, mint, black pepper.

Finish: Decent length. It follows the mouth with lingering notes of black pepper, mint and honey.

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Thoughts: This one is also pretty good. It tastes like a lot of my house-made rye/bourbon blends. I like it. And at less than $35 it is decently priced as well.

Overall, I’d say that two out of three are worth the asking price (locally) and I guess that ain’t bad when you are talking randomly appearing whiskey that you are not sure exactly who it came from.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!