Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cooper's Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $23
- 82.2 Proof
- Kentucky

This bottle is an interesting one to me, and one that I made it a point to seek out the last time I was in Kentucky. Cooper's Craft is a Brown-Forman release that is available only in Kentucky. That limited distribution itself was enough to make me want it, despite the mixed reviews I had seen online.

Cooper's Craft is a tribute to the coopers that make the barrels for Brown-Forman. Apparently, and I didn't know this until Cooper's Craft was initially released, Brown-Forman is the only major distillery with its own cooperage. So, to honor its coopers and the work they do and did, Brown-Forman released this whiskey, using a "proprietary toasting process" and "Beech and Birch Charcoal-filter finishing" as a nod to their craft.

This bottle was one of a handful of Kentucky-only releases that I muled back from my last trip and was one of the offerings in my "Kentucky only" whiskey tasting for my unofficial whiskey club. There it received middle-of-the-road reviews, but overall it was deemed to be inoffensive and drinkable. For $30, that's a good place to start. I then didn't revisit this whiskey for quite some time, until finally I decided I needed to go back to it for a fresh tasting.

The nose was subtle and light, forcing me to work a bit to pick up flavors. What I was able to get off of it was pretty good, however. Right away I got some spicy cinnamon and char notes (is burnt cinnamon a thing?), with a hint of sweet butterscotch. All of this seemed to be surrounded by a healthy dose of brown sugar to lend a full sweetness to the nose.

The first thing I noticed on my first sip was the watery texture. This does not immediately come across as a premium brand, but rather a mid-shelfer, readily-available-at-any-bar type bourbon. It reminded me a lot of Jim Beam white label in this respect.

Probably due at least in part to the watery texture, and not unlike White Label, there was nothing bold or complex about this bourbon's flavor. The predominant note is an unsweetened vanilla, and at times I would get a pleasant milk chocolate note.

Towards the back end I got some black pepper to spice up the finish, which I appreciated. In between, however, was this lingering flat cola note, like taking a sip out of a can of Coke that you forgot was the one you opened 6 hours earlier. Along with that flat cola note was a weird cardboard flavor that, while not offensive, wasn't necessarily enjoyable either. Aside from that, from time to time I would pick up flavors that I did enjoy, including burnt orange notes that seemed to go well with the char flavors. Those provided a nice amount of bitterness to go with the sweetness of the bourbon.

Overall, this was . . . interesting? But, I don’t consider myself a fan. While it wasn't bad, it didn't do enough for me to label it as "good" either. It was mostly just a forgettable bourbon.

Grade: C

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