Category Archives: Spirits

We’ve gone outside the box for this one!

1. Château La Mascaronne, Quat Saisons Rose 2018

Château La Mascaronne is owned by Tom Bove.  He was born and raised in Indiana. The 72-year-old American engineer and businessman–turned–wine producer continues to buy and restore neglected Provence wine estates such as this Chateau.

Bove has a rare touch. In 1993, he convinced his family to buy Provence’s historic Château Miraval, and the majestic 18th-century manor, and converted it to organic farming and winemaking. In 2012, he sold the 1,000-acre package for $60M to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  With the money, he turned his attention to the acquisition and revival of Chateau La Mascaronne.

This rose is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache grapes.

Education:  What is Cinsault?  Cinsaut (often spelled Cinsault) is a dark-skinned grape variety traditionally used as a blending partner for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre as part of the classic Southern Rhone blend. In rosé it provides aromatics, acidity and bright fruit flavors.  It’s simply a great rosé grape! Cooper’s Price $22.99

2. Walter Scott 2017 Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Willamette Valley

Freedom Hill Vineyard is tucked into the coast range on a gentle southeast slope. Protected from the Van Duzer coastal winds, this vineyard has a warmer climate than the rest of the Eola-Amity Hills. The soils here are a sedimentary, uplifted seabed and are thought to be among the oldest in the region. This soil, combined with the microclimate and meticulous farming, consistently produces very structured wines.

Tasting Notes:  The 2017 Freedom Hill Chardonnay has delicate aromas of fennel, yellow flowers and mixed citrus; there is an emphasis on Meyer lemon with a hint of smoke lingering on the finish. The palate is a balance of density and elegance, with juicy acidity and a stony mineral finish.   

Kevin’s Notes:  This is BIG NEWS, we only have two cases of this amazing wine, but depending on our sales this weekend, but we may get more.  Trust me, there isn’t wine shop in the country tasting this wine. This is first vintage of this Chardonnay from this amazing vineyard.  Only 200 cases were produced! Cooper’s Price $49.99

Wild Roots All Natural Infused Vodkas

Wild Roots Distillery Infused Vodka offers all-naturally infused spirits. Utilizing the flavorful and abundant fruit from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Wild Roots Distillery’s Apple and Cinnamon, Raspberry, Marionberry, Pear, and the NEW Huckleberry infused vodkas taste as fresh and ripe as nature intended. 

Starting with a 5x distilled, and 5x filtered, grain-based vodka, each bottle of Wild Roots is infused with over a pound of all-natural Northwest-grown fruit. The flavors are bold, rich, and native to this idyllic region.  

Pear Basil Martini:  PEAR-BASIL MARTINI                                   

1.5 oz Wild Roots Pear Vodka

.5 elderflower liqueur

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

2 basil leaves

In a shaker with ice, muddle basil and a wedge of lemon. 

Add remaining ingredients and shake until icy and strain into a martini glass with pear wedge garnishes.


2 oz. Wild Roots Huckleberry Vodka

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Serve over ice with lemon slices

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tasting Notes May 3rd, 2019


  • Tequila vs Mezcal. One thing to remember, all Tequila is Mezcal, but not all Mezcal is Tequila. 
  • Mezcal is a term that applies to any spirit distilled from agave. 
  • “Tequila” is a reference to a specific town within the Mexican state of Jalisco. Production within this region is regulated by a governing body, much like wine in France or Italy, or whiskey in Scotland. It must be produced within the state of Jalisco (and a few municipalities in the nearby states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas).
  • Tequila is (by law) the product of just one agave varietal—Blue Weber, while Mezcal can be made from upwards of 30 varietals of agave—though the majority is made with agave Espadin.
  • Mezcal was, until recently, considered a poor man’s beverage. It wasn’t until 1994, when the government decided to regulate production of mezcal, limiting the area where it could be produced to regions in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas. 
  • In Mezcal production, the agave hears are roasted and smoked in earthen pits before pressing, and distillation, giving it the characteristic smokey flavor.
  • Mezcal and tequila age designations: Joven/Blanco/Plata/Silver (0-2 months); Reposado or “rested” (2 months-1 year); Añejo or “old” (1-3 years); Extra Añejo (newer category, 3+ years)

Tequila Ocho Plata – Cooper’s Price $44.98

Currently the only single estate distillery to produce vintage-designated tequila. What does that mean? It means every bottle is designated with its vintage year and the specific agave field harvested. Each vintage produces tequila with aroma, flavor and character unique to that year and agave field. Tequila Ocho is sustainably managed and produced using long standing, respected production methods.

Profile:  Classic tequila aroma is evident as soon as the bottle is opened. There is sweet grass, creamy vanilla, and fresh roundness on the nose. There is very little burn to this tequila. Definite warmth and good, weighty mouthfeel. The flavor is light on the tongue with vanilla creaminess in the background. Very flavorful. 

Milagro Reposado – Cooper’s Price $19.98

Milagro “Miracle” uses agave that are an average of eight to twelve years old for their Tequila (others use agave as young as three years old). A more mature agave develops a better flavor and terroir, due to the longer growing period according to a number of experts. Milagro also uses a number of more traditional steps than many others – again, slower, more expensive processes, but they pay off in the long run.

Profile: Citrus, savory herbs, brine/alkali with a nice mineral feel, and grassy notes. Woody oak and pepper are nicely present with hints of vanilla as well. Finish is medium-long, with lingering dry herbs, minerality, and a touch of citrus. 

Dos Artes Extra Anejo, Limited Edition Sugar Skull – Cooper’s Price $179.99

Dos Artes literally translates to “two arts”; the first being the Tequila itself, and the second, obviously being the handmade bottles. These gorgeous bottles each take around 72 hours to complete. Starting with forming and baking the clay bottle, then hand-painting and back into the oven, then glazing and one last firing in the oven. This specific bottle is a limited edition of their Extra Añejo offering. The 

Profile:  Strong toasted oak, cooked agave, and grilled banana. Dark fruit, and marzipan, with a slight salinity, and huge notes of rich caramel sauce and vanilla bean from the extensive barrel aging. This is a truly special blend of 2-5 year old tequilas!

Mezcal Amarás Espadín – Cooper’s Price $44.99

The brand, which translates to “you will love,” was founded by Jorge Rodríguez-Cano and Santiago Suárez Cordova. It’s a collaboration between 5 mezcaleros in the village of San Juan del Río in Oaxaca. It’s made from 100% Espadín grown in the surrounding hills near the distillery that is roasted for 5 days in conical ovens over Holm Oak logs. It’s made the traditional way with horse-drawn mills for grinding, open pine containers for fermenting and copper pot distilling. Both the agave and the logs used to roast, are used sustainably, with more being replanted for every one taken.

Profile:  This is an approachable, and a particularly fruity mezcal that has some interesting mushroomy and pinecone notes in the background. Hot cinnamon spice warms the path to backwoods campfire smoke. Finishes smooth, with a little bit of sweetness to round it out.

Winter Whiskey Tasting!

Redbreast 12yr Irish Whiskey – Old Midleton Distillery stands on the banks of the Dungourney  River in Midleton, East Cork. Set on 15 green acres, the distillery is home to all of the world’s supply of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Redbreast is made in the classic Irish Single Pot Still style. This means it is produced using a mash bill consisting of both malted and unmalted barley which is triple distilled in copper pot stills. The 12 year is aged only in Oloroso Sherry casks. 

A healthy dose of orange marmalade presents itself along with toast and coconut. Dried red fruit, cloves, and honey round out the palate and leads to a creamy and lengthy finish. All in all, a balanced and satisfying whiskey. Cooper’s Price $49.98 

Laws ‘Bottled in Bond’ Four Grain Straight Bourbon – Laws Whiskey House is a historically minded distillery. “Quality before quantity” is their self-proclaimed mantra, and they’ve proven it with each of their releases. The 1897 Bottled-In-Bond Act is a little-known piece of legislation that cleaned up whiskey when it hit an all-time low. In the late 1800s whiskey was unregulated, and customers were paying the price. Gunpowder, tobacco and turpentine are just a few of the unsavory additives that distillers were using to color and flavor cheap whiskeys. Supporters of the act were so desperate to protect the sanctity of their spirits that they enlisted help from an unlikely ally— The Women’s Christian Temperance Union— an organization that would eventually be instrumental in prohibition legislation. This whiskey, made to adhere to these standards of the Bottled in Bond act, must be aged for a minimum of 4 years, made in a single distilling season, using the grains of a single season, made by one distiller at one distillery and aged in a federal government-bonded distillery. So, in laymen’s terms, a “bonded” whiskey is cleaner, stronger and more difficult to make. Golden amber in color. Notes of honey, caramel, bread pudding, and gentle rye spice come first on the nose. Flavors of dark chocolate, nutmeg, oak, and cinnamon are evident on the palate. Cooper’s Price $69.98 

Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Single Malt – Established in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay in over 124 years. Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills, set out to revive the lost art of farm distilling once widespread before the commercialisation of the distilleries in the late 1800s. Over a decade into his journey, Kilchoman’s 100% Islay range remains the only Islay single malt produced completely on site, from barley to bottle. The parish of Kilchoman is home to some of Islay’s most fertile ground.  It is here, in the fields surrounding the distillery, where they grow 200 tons of barley each year. Planting in Spring once Islay’s 50,000 geese have migrated, the farm team care for the barley over the summer months before harvesting in early September. Harvest time represents the start of the whisky-making process which sees the Kilchoman-grown barley malted, distilled, matured and bottled here at the distillery, eventually becoming Islay’s only Single Farm Single Malt Scotch Whisky over 1130 days later. 

Machir Bay is clearly an Islay malt, but it has a style all its own. Aged in 80% bourbon barrels and 20% Oloroso sherry casks. All the familiar saline and smoke notes are evident on the nose, but they’re ushered in on an unlikely rush of peppermint. Eccentric. That mint aroma manifests as a cooling sensation on the palate. Against that backdrop, hits of lemon rind and chocolate roastiness pop through. But those pops are short-lived and they leave without a trace. You’re left with a saline tang that reminds you exactly where this malt comes from. Cooper’s Price: $59.98 

Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur – The dairy farming industry in Ireland dates back thousands of years. The importance of dairy farming to the Irish and their livelihood is mentioned even in Early Irish Law or “Brehon Laws,” which valued milk cows as the highest form of currency. The dairy farmers of Five Farms are members of a local dairy Co-op of over 500 farms. The Co-op helps guarantee that all farms within the group get a fair price for their output and provides a supportive community for the farmers. 

Five Farms is a true farm-to-table product, crafted from single batches of fresh cream that are combined with premium Irish Whiskey within 48 hours of collection to become authentic Irish Cream Liqueur. The cream is sourced entirely from five family-owned farms in County Cork, run by families that have a deep connection to the land and a passion for their craft.

An inviting nose of butterscotch, caramel fondue, and vanilla bean jumps from the glass. The lush palate coats the mouth with flavors of coffee with fresh cream, dulce de leche, coconut, maple, and Belgian waffles. An intensely satisfying after dinner sipper in place of dessert. Cooper’s Price $32.99

Scotchy Scotch Scotch…Mmm Mmm Mmm!


Loch Lomond Original Single malt –  The distillery was built by Littlemill Distillery Company Ltd, a joint venture part-owned by the American distillers Barton Brands Ltd, in 1965 on the site of a former calico dyeworks and Britain’s oldest car factory, the Argyll Motor Company. Barton took over complete ownership a few years later in 1971, but the distillery fell on hard times during the 1980s and was forced to close in 1984. Production resumed in 1987 under the new ownership of the Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse company, an independent bottler seeking to control supplies of malt whisky for their own-label blends. They operate on two traditional potstills, and one Coffey still for grain whisky production, making Loch Lomond the only distillery in Scotland to produce both malt and grain whisky on the same site. 

First impressions of dark, warm leather that builds into a more Highland heathery character. These darker notes gradually give way to a sweeter, malty presence. All of this aromatic richness concludes with lighter and more subtle wood notes becoming evident at the close. A pronounced burst of malt on the tongue with appetizing sweet cereal notes building over time to give an almost creamy texture to the palate, with a pronounced nuttiness, the texture and flavor of brazil nuts. Finally, a slightly astringent citrus note appears fleetingly in the background. The citrus on the palate subsides and the finish becomes more conventionally sweet. Hints of dark molasses develop into a darker sweeter conclusion with faint hints of citrus peel offsetting the general rich and sweet notes. Cooper’s price $24.98


Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky – Coffey Malt is made from 100% malted barley. However it is not categorized as “malt whisky” but as “grain whisky” since it is not distilled in a pot still. This unique production method results in extraordinary flavors and texture. The Coffey Still is the world’s first patented continuous still invented by Mr. Aeneas Coffey in 1830. Masataka Taketsuru valued the feature of this type of still, which retains the flavors of ingredients and also creates a distinctive texture. Coffey Grain and Coffey Malt are Nikka’s signature grain whiskies, from their Miyagikyo Distillery, which show the beauty of the Coffey Stills. 

The aroma is lively and tart. Fresh and citrusy all the way through. An ode to lemon, with sweet pear barely managing to temper. Fine pepper notes and a hint of balsamic blend together, with softer vanilla scents finding their way in. On the palate, its vivacity is sustained by citrus aromatics (clementine, orange) which challenge more enticing notes of coffee, praline, and vanilla cream. Surprisingly, prune, mirabelle and greengage plum aromas develop, leaving one with the impression of an eau-de-vie. The finish extends, without batting an eye, on prune and mirabelle notes. Licorice makes a brief appearance before the fruit takes center stage.  Cooper’s Price $74.99 

Glen Scotia Double Cask Single Malt – Campbeltown, a tiny region on Scotland’s west coast, was once a hotbed of whisky-making, but today there are just three companies with active stills. Springbank is by far the best known. Glengyle/Kilkerran is largely unheard of in the U.S. The third is Glen Scotia, which was built in 1832 but has changed hands and gone through so many owners that few have kept count. The current owner is Loch Lomond, which produces whisky under its own name as well.

Glen Scotia Double Cask, is a non-age statement single malt whisky finished in first-fill bourbon casks followed by time in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. In the glass, it offers aromas of coffee, Madeira wine, dried fruits, and roasted nuts. The palate is more well-rounded, with caramel and vanilla sweetness quickly leading to a heavy baking spice character, particularly focused on cloves and cardamom. There are some simple granary notes here, indicative of youth, but they’re well masked behind all the spice, wine, nuts, and fruit. Those winey notes find a reprise on the finish, where they are showcased well along with a bit of salt spray and overtones of spiced nuts. Cooper’s Price $49.98


Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Whisky – Kaiyo is a negotiant bottler started by a drinks group led by former Asahi employee Mr. Watanabe. He was able to purchase “teaspooned” malt whisky barrels from an unnamed Japanese whisky supplier via his connections in the industry (“teaspooning” is when a distiller adds a teaspoon of another whisky into the barrel before selling it, thus preventing the purchaser from claiming it as a single malt from that distillery). The whiskies are purchased as teaspooned new make (unaged distillates) and then put into Japanese Mizunara oak barrels from Ariake, considered one of the best manufacturers in the world (each new Mizunara barrel costs between $6500 – $7500). For those unfamiliar with the legend of Japanese Mizunara oak, it’s become heralded in the whisky world both for the exotic flavors of incense, sandalwood, and coconut it passes along to the spirit as well as its expense. Difficult to cooper and notoriously inefficient as a vessel, editions of Yamazaki and Bowmore aged in Mizunara wood have sold at four figure prices, making the Kaiyo whiskies in comparison seem like a steal. You get an exotic note of tea and faint orange peel on the nose of the standard Kaiyo edition, but the soft and rather delicate palate brings more of the vanilla and oak character. The spices come out on the finish with lots of pepper and oolong. It’s very Japanese in its restraint, graceful from front to back without any serious peaks or valleys.
Cooper’s Price $69.99

Last Tequila tasting of the year!


Suerte Tequila

Suerteis the brainchild of Co-Founders Laurence Spiewak and Lance Sokol.  Lance from Mexico City and Laurence from Philadelphia first met one another in Boulder, CO and quickly realized they shared the same passion for great tequila.  They often discussed the idea of creating their own tequila house, but this did not happen until Lance met and tasted the tequilas from Master Distiller Perdro Hernandez.

Pedro is from highlands of Jalisco.  He was an attorney until he decide to make tequila from blue Weber agave grown on his family’s property.  He spent six years making tequila in the traditional manner by slow roasting the pinas and crushing it with a Tahona (a large wheel constructed of stone).  

In 2010, Suerte – the Lucky Rabbit – began distillation and two years later it was released to the market.  After many years, Lance and Laurence completed their goal:  produce a traditional tequila with the purest essence of Blue Weber agave with a clean, modern package that will be affordable to many!

How Suerte Tequila is Made

  1. The Harvest – The Blue Weber agave plants are harvested after 8 years of growing slowly to the size of 200 pounds with a leaf and heart span of up to 16 ft!!!
  1. The Oven Roasting – “We welcome piñas by the truckload into our distillery and begin the process of splitting and stacking them in our brick oven. We slow roast the piñas for 52 hours, four times longer than the industry standard, to bring out the fullest agave expression.”
  1. The Crushing  – “It’s the way we roll that sets our tequila apart. Being 100% Tahona means every piña from the oven gets crushed under a two-ton stone, slowly and repetitively, for 16 hours to release all the juices. Others use shredders to process the piñas.”
  1. The Fermentation – “The juice from the crushed piñas is mixed with pure spring water creating “Mosto”. Along with the Agave, the other most important natural ingredient that imparts amazing taste is the pure spring waters of Atotonilco El Alto. Legendary in their purity and healing properties, these waters give life to the surrounding agave fields and our tequila.To get the most of our Mosto, it goes directly into a fermentation tank where a proprietary yeast is added. Then we’re back to going slow – letting the yeast do its work for a few days and getting our fermentation on. Hello alcohol.”
  1. The Distillation – “From there, the liquid is ready to be double-distilled by passing through a stainless and then copper still for finishing. Our distillation is a 17-hour process and the industry standard is 3.5 hours. Hello Tequila.”
  1. The Aging – “Now we have our tequila, the final steps determine what expression it will become. 

For Blanco, it’s off to the stainless steel tanks for 2 months before bottling. 

For Reposado and the Añejo, its gravity poured into charred American white oak whiskey barrels and rested from 7 months to 7 years.”

Dos Artes Tequila Tasting with Owners Miguel & Josephina~6/15&16~5-7pm

FRIDAY~Meet the passionate owners of Dos Artes Tequila!  Learn how these beautiful tequilas are created; how the hand-painted bottles and made…and just how amazing tequila can be!

SATURDAY~If you miss Friday; don’t dispair!  We’re STILL tasting Dos Artes on Saturday night.


See YOU this weekend..and Happy Fathers’ Day!


CASAMIGOS Cinco de Mayo Tasting 5/4-5 5-7pm







Casamigos Blanco Tequila- Blanco is crisp and clean with hints of citrus, vanilla and sweet agave with a long smooth finish.   Mellowed for 2 months in stainless steel tanks.   Sooo clean!

Casamigos Reposado Tequila – The Reposado is soft, slightly oaky with hints of caramel and cocoa and has a silky texture with a medium to long smooth finish.  “Rested” for 7 months in  reconditioned whiskey barrels.  Sooo smooth!

Casamigos Mezcal – Agaves are smoked in underground pits for 4-6 days before being crushed the traditional way, using a horse-drawn “tahona” (large-stone wheel) this mezcal is made from 100% espadín from Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca. The agaves are split and placed in an earthen pit lined with volcanic rocks heated by oak wood fire where they cook for 4-6 days.  Smokey!


We’re serving a suprise Mezcal cocktail  for a special treat!! 






Join us for Award-Winning Whiskey!! This Friday & Sat 5-7pm


Join us as we taste:

Bushmill’s Red Bush  

Among the first of the Irish whiskeys to be imported to the US, American drinkers fond of whiskey and other brown spirits have enjoyed the range of characterful smooth spirits from Bushmills since the 1800s.  Red Bush is a smooth blend of triple distilled Irish single malt and fine Irish grain whiskey.  On the nose, the amber spirit offers intense aromas of toasted oak and vanilla.  The palate is medium bodied with hints of caramel and nutty flavors.  

Cooper’s Price $19.98

Old Forester 86 Proof

Created in 1870, Old Forester is the only bourbon continuously distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during and after Prohibition.  At 86 proof, this Old Forester delivers a genuine bourbon experience, with rich, full flavor and a smooth character that is ideal for sipping neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water or in a classic cocktail.  The aroma is sharp and sweet, with a strong floral character that swirls with hints of mint, rich tobacco leaf and vanilla.  On the palate, it’s sharp at first, but softens quickly, with hints of oak, sweet corn and rye character.  Spicy, with soft vanilla and light orange notes.

Cooper’s Price $26.99

Calumet Farm Single Rack Black 10yr  

Calumet Farm Bourbon Whiskey is Kentucky-aged to perfection for over 10 years bottled from hand selected barrels on a single rack (19 barrels) in the rick house.  Calumet has a customary mash bill of corn, rye and malted barley that offers a sweet, flawless finish, glowing with butterscotch and vanilla.  A harmonious perfection of wood and time, this whiskey brims with citrus and toasty aromas followed by apple skin and baking spice.  That palate shows complex flavors of soft toasted oak, brown sugar and a touch of spice.  Each bottle boasts a hand-written, custom label with the specific rack location and number of barrels in that bottling.

Cooper’s Special Price $49.98

 291 Colorado Rye Single Barrel

Kevin’s Notes:  I first met Michael Myers, Owner and Distiller, a short time after we opened our store.  His whiskies had just reached the ages of 2-3 years old and he was very enthusiastic to share them.  We related to one another quickly as his passion for making the best possible whiskey was very evident and the spirit was certainly in the bottle.  Since our first encounter and more recently, Michael’s whiskies have earned numerous competitive awards from internationally recognized whiskey festivals, including most recently, “best rye in show” at the 2018 World Whiskey Awards! (2nd time for this prestigious honor)

Cooper’s Price $69.98

Subscribe to stay up to date on all our tasting events.

* indicates required

It’s time for whiskey!!!

Redemption Whiskey The Redemption name was chosen to reflect the idea of Rye re-claiming its status – prior to prohibition, it was the #1 selling type of whiskey. The Redemption portfolio of whiskeys all have a high rye content in its recipe which gives it a distinct flavorful spicy taste. The whiskey is all sourced in Lawrenceville Indiana from the old Seagram’s distillery, founded in 1847. The distinctiveness of Redemption comes from the attention to detail during the aging and batching process which is all done to taste, insuring consistency bottle to bottle. The combination of high rye  content and proof allows the whiskey to gain significant flavor with less aging.

Redemption Bourbon – Sourced from Midwest Grain Products or “MGP” in Indiana, Redemption Straight Bourbon breaks from the label’s tradition of rye whiskey and high-rye bourbons. This bottling is made from a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley (as opposed to 60% corn and 36% rye in their standard bottling). The whiskey is aged for at least two years in new, charred American oak. A high amount of corn gives a classic sweet taste with notes of vanilla and caramel from the wood, and the rye adds a light spice to balance. Bottled at 84 proof (42% abv) for a lighter experience, this whiskey is great on the rocks or in mixed drinks. Cooper’s Price $24.99

Redemption Rye – Redemption Rye’s goal is to bring back the classic American Rye cocktail.    While Federal law states that a whiskey classified as a rye must be made from at least 51% rye, we chose to push our grain content to 95% with the other 5% being barley. This not only pushes the flavor forward, it also magnifies the unique profile of the rye grains. Beautiful and rich rye spice with light floral and citrus notes. On the nose you’ll find heat, oak, spice, and orange. The palate reveals clove, leather, and juniper. A moderate length on the finish with a slight bitterness. Great for sipping or mixing in a classic cocktail (think Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Sazerac). True rye character at a fraction of the price! Cooper’s Price $24.98 

Kentucky Vintage, Sour Mash Bourbon – For the Willett family, distilling craft whiskey is a family tradition. During Reconstruction, John David Willett, the family patriarch, began distilling whiskey at the Moore, Willett & Frenke Distillery, which was situated just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. In 1898, his son, A. Lambert Willett, who was 15 years old at the time, began following in his father’s footsteps. Three decades later, Lambert, together with his son, Thompson, purchased a farm on the outskirts of Bardstown KY, and began construction of the Willett Distilling Company. Eventually they changed its name to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, yet the family tradition lives on. Evan Kulsveen, the current owner of KBD, is Thompson Willett’s son-in-law. In keeping with family tradition, Kentucky Vintage Bourbon is an authentic Kentucky straight whiskey. Bottled at a robust 90 proof, the bourbon has a golden chestnut color, along with an aroma of oranges, lemons, clover and honey. Notes of ginger, caramel apples, roasted nuts and creamy vanilla dominate the palate, and give way to a finish accented by hints of almonds and black pepper. This not a bourbon that gets much fanfare. It’s rare to hear anyone talk about it. Is it due to its limited availability in parts of the country? Is it because of the complete lack of marketing and boring bottle design? It can’t because of how the bourbon tastes, because it’s right on the money in quality and price. This maybe true with a lot of bourbons, but the more time you spend with Kentucky Vintage the more you’ll love it. It might not be the most exciting bourbon you can buy, but it’s one that deserves to be in your decanter as one of your “everyday go-to-bourbons.” Cooper’s Price $39.99 

Old Forester 1920 “Prohibition-Style” Bourbon – Through a government permit allowing the production of whiskey for “medicinal purposes,” Old Forester was one of 6 legal distilleries operating during U.S. Prohibition. Launched in 2016, this third release in the “Whiskey Row” series was created in resemblance to what Old Forester would have tasted like during Prohibition. It is bottled at 57.5% ABV. The aroma is rich and powerful with dark fruit, burnt brown sugar, chocolate, and a hint of fruit. Not surprising for the proof, it tingles the nostrils with a trace of ethanol. On the palate it’s big, bold, and immediately likable. The richness of barrel char and dark chocolate play against the sweetness of caramel and creme brûlée. Allspice and black pepper pop initially, then quickly dissipate and leave a long-lingering finish. While it presumably shares the same mash-bill as the others in the Whiskey Row Series, it’s amazing how different it tastes. Sure the proof is higher, but inside we find an entirely different flavor profile. Brown-Forman provides little to go by as far as what might have contributed to this, other than barrel selection and masterful blending. Even by comparison with the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Series, which can be enjoyable and echo similar flavor characteristics most likely due to the particular rick-house and floor the barrels are pulled from, 1920 seems to stand out by offering better balance and an immediately enjoyable experience. I didn’t have to peel back layers to enjoy it. Cooper’s Price $54.99

All you need to know about Rum before this weekend’s tasting!!!

What is Rum?

Rum is a distilled spirit made predominantly from molasses. The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean and first mentioned, specifically, in records from Barbados around 1650. It was originally referred to as “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” but by 1667 was simply called rum. The legal definition tends to vary depending on the country of origin, so establishing a strict definition that applies to all rum from everywhere is impossible. What’s consistent, though, is that rum is always made from molasses, sugarcane juice, or other cane by-products. Initially, molasses was thought of as industrial waste, too heavy to transport from the islands, and therefore mostly dumped into the ocean. It was the plantation slaves that first discovered the molasses starting to ferment. It still had enough sugar to attract natural yeasts from the air; and the hot, wet climate of the islands was perfect for encouraging natural fermentation. By this point, distillation techniques were refined, and quite well-known so it was natural to take the fermented molasses and distill it.

In modern times, most distillers purchase molasses rather than make it themselves. Yeast and water are added to the molasses to create a “wash,” which is then allowed to ferment. Some distillers prefer to use wild yeasts, whereas others, use specific cultivated strains. Fermentation, of course, is the process by which yeasts convert sugars into alcohol. In modern spirits production, this process generally takes place in large metal tanks and is carefully monitored. Fermentation lasts from twenty-four hours to several weeks, depending on the type of rum being produced. Distillation can proceed using either a pot still or a column still. Pot stills are more traditional and less efficient (i.e. more expensive) than column stills. Generally, heavier rums are produced in pot stills and lighter rums in column stills, although some rums are a blend of pot and column.

A Sordid History

Sugar cane was first introduced to the Caribbean in 1493 by Christopher Columbus who was inspired by his father-in-law, a sugar planter on the island of Madeira. But it wasn’t until the decadent era of Louis XIV that Europe developed a real sweet tooth. That fueled sugar production in the Caribbean, and an ugly slave trade to support it. By the late 1600’s rum found its way into the slave trade of the American colonies and Europe. Slaves were brought from Africa and traded to the West Indies for molasses; the molasses was made into rum in New England; the rum was then traded to Africa for more slaves.

This was all during the Age of Sails, and all the European powers (British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French etc.) had colonial interests in the new world of the Americas. Thus, it also ushered in the era of piracy and state sponsored privateering.Historically, the association of rum and pirates was enforced because of the rum-rations given, by the Royal Navy, to its Privateers (replacing French Brandy). Many of the privateers later became pirates or buccaneers raiding Spanish flotillas. Since rum was in such great abundance and so inexpensive it became their beverage of choice. Excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica which was a famous pirate hang-out once dubbed “the wickedest city in the world,” turned up hundreds of rum bottles.

British sailors received rations of rum in 1600’s which was an administrative move that was wildly popular because rum was both stronger and it kept better than beer. It was so popular, in fact, that it soon began to interfere with the sailors’ competence, which led Admiral Edward Vernon to attack the “pernicious custom” of rum guzzling, which led to “many fatal effects” on sailors’ morals and health.

Vernon’s solution: dilute the rum and add citrus juice. Surprisingly, this made everyone happy, including the sailors, who were still getting the equivalent of five generous shots a day. The new watered-down drinkable was promptly referred to as “grog,” in reference to Vernon’s nickname, “Old Grogram,” from the weatherproof grogram coat he routinely wore. The addition of citrus to watered down rum, proved to be helpful in warding off scurvy as well.

By the 18th century, American colonists were not only importing rum; they were distilling their own.  As of 1770, according to one source, there were over 150 rum distilleries in New England, and the colonists, collectively, were importing 6.5 million gallons of West Indian (Caribbean) molasses, and turning it into five million gallons of rum. One estimate from the time of the Revolutionary War puts American rum consumption at nearly four gallons per person per year. Unfortunately, most of it wasn’t very good, but it did have the advantage of being cheap.

The exception was Medford rum. Medford—whether because it actually tasted better or because the Medford distillers were canny self-promoters—soon had a national reputation for high quality. Rival towns even attempted to boost their sales by stenciling “Medford” on their rum barrels. In 19th-century cocktail recipes that called for rum, often specified Medford as the rum of choice.

Excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica which was a famous pirate hang-out once dubbed “the wickedest city in the world,” turned up hundreds of rum bottles.

Factors that Influence Rum Styles

  • Agricole

Most rums were made using molasses from the Caribbean, however, during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s, Britain imposed a blockade of France, and this blockade prevented the import of sugarcane from the Caribbean. As a result, French scientists devised a method for the industrial extraction of refined sugar from sugar beets, which, unlike sugarcane, could be grown throughout France and central Europe. This, however, left the sugarcane industry in Martinique and other French West Indies colonies with a quandary: its chief market for refined sugar had suddenly dried up. The plunge in sugar prices drove many producers into bankruptcy; sugar production declined, and less molasses was available for rum production. Distilleries in those islands turned instead to freshly crushed sugarcane juice. The product that resulted came to be known as “agricultural rum”—or rhum agricole. In this case, the sugar source carries a certain amount of terroir. Fresh sugarcane juice is prone to oxidation, so it needs to be produced near the distillery, and fermentation needs to begin straight away. Agricole manufacturers say that the use of local sugarcane carries some character from its growing environment into the finished product.

  • Yeast Type

Using wild yeast will impart certain characteristics of the local environment into the rum; characteristics that can actually change from batch to batch. To control such variables, some companies use specific cultivated strains that retain the same characteristics from generation to generation. The Los Angeles Times recently wrote about the yeast used by Bacardi, detailing how the Bacardi distillery smuggled its yeast out to Puerto Rico when its original Cuban facilities were nationalized by the Castro government in 1960.

  • Length of Fermentation

The other variable that yeast introduces is fermentation speed. Some yeast strains convert sugar to alcohol more quickly than others. The faster the molasses ferments, the fewer esters and congeners (the chemical substances that create flavor compounds) form.

  • Type of Still

Another factor that affects rum styles is the type of still used. Pot stills generally produce heavier rums, richer in the yeast compounds that create flavor. Column stills produce lighter rums, stripping out more of the flavor compounds. Column stills are more efficient and therefore less expensive to operate, but it’s important to remember this isn’t an either-or proposition. Some rums are started in pot stills and redistilled in columns, and some rums are a blend of pot and column.

  • Type of Barrel

The kind of barrel used for aging rum affects its flavor, too. Some rums are aged in new charred-oak casks; some are aged in used whiskey barrels. Some are aged in sherry casks; some in cognac barrels. All these contribute different flavors to the finished product. Not all rums today are aged, however those that are, much like whiskey, tend to be more highly regarded and more expensive. The longer a rum ages in a barrel, the more flavor compounds it will pick up from the oak.

  • Strength of Rum at Distillation and Bottling

Most rums on the market are bottled at 80 proof, or 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), but they’re typically distilled to a higher proof—anywhere from 85 to 95% ABV—and then diluted with water to achieve bottling proof. The rums with the richest flavors and bodies are those distilled to a lower proof—say 85% abv—and then diluted to a higher proof—say 43 to 45% abv.

Why is this so? When spirits are distilled to higher and higher proofs, the flavor compounds begin to degrade; a rum that comes off the still at 95% ABV will retain fewer flavor compounds than one distilled to 85%. Remember, a spirit distilled to 95% ABV is 95% alcohol and 5% other compounds. Some part of that 5% is flavor molecules. A spirit distilled to 85% ABV has 15% other, and therefore more room for flavor molecules.

When you take a rum distilled at 95% ABV and dilute it down to 40%, you need to add a lot of water, which, being water, carries no flavor. So you end up with a lighter tasting rum than if you start with a more flavorful spirit and add less water.