‘No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.’¹
In other words, you have to take a guess or at best, an educated guess. A leap of faith based on information, research or just that gut feeling you cannot shake off or explain. That’s my whisk(e)y journey in a nutshell. Personally, it is about looking forward as much as it is nice to go back through the historical whiskies. It’s about new distilleries as much as it is classic names; trying new cask types and production methods etc. adding more blocks to my experience bank.
Discovery should be fun and hopefully affordable. And I have had my eye on today’s bottle for some time, having actually made the purchase back in September. So, accept my apologies for my tardiness, as this site has pushed me down other avenues. Some of these routes have contained pitfalls like the Talisker 8 year old 2020 Special release and new discoveries such as the Connaught new make spirit. But, deep down, I really wanted to dig into this whiskey from Boutique-y and bring the Copperworks Distilling Co. onto Malt.
The Copperworks distillery is based in Seattle, Washington, with the state already home to some very promising distilleries in Woodinville and Westland. Both of which have shown so much promise that they’ve been acquired by Moët Hennessy and Rémy Cointreau respectively. Such corporations don’t splash the cash unless they see potential and the same promise applies to Copperworks which still remains in the hands of the founders have gone down the more organic crowdfunding route to enable more expansion.
Coming from a brewing background means that the team appreciates the importance of yeast varieties, grain, fermentation and all the stuff before the arrival of ‘premium wood’ and the ethos that ‘the wood brings 70-80% of the flavour’, which we’ll see shot down in flames in the coming years. Like Two Brewers in Yukon, such a background and appreciation of the vital ingredients has married with a desire to experiment and maximise flavour. Brewing has the advantage of being almost instantaneous, but in whisk(e)y, you have to show some patience. And as their pitch for funding highlighted, Copperworks has already won various awards on a very limited production capacity. At the time, they had just 260 casks maturing, that’s probably less than Dornoch Distillery and other small scale enterprises. ‘Demand exceeds our supply of mature whiskey’, is a professional way of saying we need help!
We’ve covered several Boutique-y releases this year from a variety of writers. Looking back over our reviews, a clear trend is the ability of this bottler to source casks on a worldwide scale. In essence, they are bringing distilleries such as Copperworks to new markets that normally wouldn’t have the opportunity (without great difficulty) of trying such whiskies. It’s a worthwhile collaboration as Copperworks, I presume, has limited distribution within the United States. They’ve not got the manpower or the superhuman resolve to navigate the international hurdles of breaking into distant foreign markets. So, why not raise your profile and let someone else take the strain?
Boutique-y is taking a lead in this and it seems like a missed opportunity for the Scotch Malt Whisky Association that has dabbled in foreign releases but never really picked up the baton. Pricing is also a key component of this whole equation. The 50cl no doubt helps in this endeavour and keeps things down. While the SMWS when it does go international, often comes across as being overpriced for those non-Scotch distilleries. At least they do occasionally try, whereas other bottlers seem transfixed on UK distilleries with the occasional European jaunt. So, I’d love the ability to have more such releases from whoever makes the effort – if you’re reading out there.
This 3 year old is available from Master of Malt for £64.95 for a 50cl bottle and is bottled at 50.7% strength. It might also be available from other retailers, so it pays to shop around. Certainly, this side of the Atlantic, it seems you’ll struggle to find another example from this distillery. However, let’s push things forward and check out the liquid.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Copperworks Batch #1 – review
Colour: a rich marmalade.
On the nose: an apparent wood influence, but gentle overall. Warmed hazelnuts, orange segments and more warmth with a cinnamon bun. A big hug of a dram. Rubbed brass, kindling, dark chocolate, beef tomato and lots of vanilla caramel. I’m reminded of amber, figs, sourdough and some spent tobacco. Adding water brings out hints of shandy, chocolate mousse, furniture polish and compost.
In the mouth: best word here is wholesome as this dram has the core trinity of caramel, vanilla and nougat. A pleasing texture featuring pine nuts and some cinnamon residue with liquorice and dark chocolate on the finish. Water isn’t hugely successful or welcome. Some blood orange, rolled tobacco, wood spice, chocolate sponge and cracked black peppercorns.
What a pleasant surprise this bottling is. For its age, you might envisage a more aggressive wood dynamic and some harsh alcohol notes, but there are balance, depth and poise here.
It reminds me in some respects of Two Brewers from the Yukon, Canada. Obviously, former brewers turned distillers. They too appreciate the potential offered by various grains, different yeasts and fermentation. The outcome is just as pleasing and surprising.
This might be your only opportunity to pick up a Copperworks in the near future, so this is recommended as a good whiskey (hence the score) and a bookmark for future releases.
¹ Isaac Newton, 1643-1727.
Stills photograph kindly provided by Copperworks. Also, we’ve included a commission link in this review, if you can find the bottle at a local shop instead then please purchase it. Such links don’t influence our opinion and just keep Malt ticking.