Whiskey Reviews: Copperworks American Single Malt Release 044, 045

, | September 26, 2022

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Copperworks Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

Basing a release on flavor over age is a unique strategy. One that Copperworks Distillery chose to enlist for their 2022 release of Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey Releases 044 and 045, both released on the same day in newer bottle designs than their traditional whiskeys, mainly due to supply issues. Co-owner and president of Copperworks, Jason Parker, says of the same day release, “We’ve always released our whiskey based primarily on flavour. In other words, we never decide to use a cask of whiskey simply because of its age. Instead, we blend casks when we believe they are ready based on our tastings.”

To bottle based on flavor over age is a very craft distillery move. It shirks a bit of tradition and instead relies on tasting and blending; really, it taps into intuition on the part of the distillery and shows a very forward-thinking mindset. Located on the downtown Seattle waterfront, Copperworks Distillery was named 2018 Distillery of the Year by the American Distilling Institute, and work based on the philosophy of distilling utilizing sustainable practices including water conservation, environmental protection, and renewable energy.

As reported by Bloomberg, “on average, crafting a single 750-milliliter bottle of liquor results in some 6.5 pounds of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, equivalent to burning a third of a gallon of gasoline.” These practices are under greater scrutiny as both politics and personal accountability has us looking toward the future and how our actions affect the environment.

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For Copperworks Distillery, renewable energy is a key aspect to the mission. By heating the copper stills (created specifically for the distillery in Scotland) by energy produced from “biomass” – clean, non-fossil fueled waste wood – the spirit does not add any new carbon to the atmosphere.

I have to say, as much as I respect the hard work that goes into running a sustainable, environmentally conscientious distiller, I wish Copperworks Releases 044 and 045 were more outstanding. I was fairly underwhelmed with my tasting and found myself craving a more unique flavor profile, especially given that the whiskey was bottled for flavor. That said, they were both enjoyable enough, and will benefit from the help of a few other ingredients, I picture a nice old fashioned in the near future for Copperworks Releases 044 and 045.

Copperworks American Single Malt Release 044, 045 review

Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey Release 044 and Release 45 (image via Copperworks)

Tasting Notes: Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey Release 044

Vital Stats: Crafted from eight casks. Four casks brewed and distilled from Great Western Malting Pale Malt, matured for 45-52 mo. in charred new American Oak casks. Three casks brewed and distilled from single variety Baronesse barley from Colfax, Washington, matured 56 mo. Final cask created from “Queen’s Run” and matured for 60 months. 50% ABV. SRP $69.99.

Appearance: A soft lantern yellow hue.

Nose: Tangy nectarine and vanilla come through, along with a chalky texture on the nose reminding me of sweet tarts or Necco wafers. There are notes of wood, and maybe a bit of pine sap.

Palate: The whiskey opens with peachy iced tea flavor, not terribly sweet, and coffee notes hit mid-palate, along with cocoa nib and light honey.

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Final Thoughts: My preference of the two whiskeys, Release 044 offered a bit more complexity in the profile. And while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this whiskey, I did enjoy the savory aspects on the palate and the nose was thoroughly pleasant.

Score: 3.5/5

Tasting Notes: Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey Release 045

Vital Stats: Six casks of single barley variety single malt whiskey make up 94% of this whiskey. This component was distilled from Fritz variety of barley and matured 36 months in charred new American Oak Casks. The remaining 6% is whiskey matured 60 months in Manzanilla sherry casks. 50% ABV. SRP $69.99/750ml.

Appearance: A dandelion yellow with thin legs.

Nose: Wood and dusty hay stands out first. Honeysuckle and clover blossom follow after the whiskey opens, along with maple syrup.

Palate: Thin, mellow, and pleasantly bitter, the whiskey lacks a bit of substance. I got a charcoal note, with the distinct sweetness of corn on the cob. This expression has less character than 044, and will likely be lost in a stronger cocktail or even with a bit of ice.

Final Thoughts: Release 045 is slightly less impactful than 044, though both are lacking in a bit of substance that I was looking for. I appreciated the earthy nose on this whiskey, and there were some levels on the palate that I had to really stop and think about to find distinct notes, but once I identified what I was looking for, I was left wanting.

Score: 3/5

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Jerry Jenae Sampson

Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.