Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Copperworks. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
When you look at a whiskey’s label and see the word “peated,” you know that the grain itself was smoked. If you look closely at Copperworks’ latest single malt, however, you will see the term “peated cask.” That is because the Copperworks Peated Cask American Single Malt is actually finished in Ardbeg casks. The pale malt used in the mash is not peated.
Copperworks suggests tasting their Release 043 beside Release 042, their Washington Peated American Single Malt, to show the difference between the peat types. However, I also suggest comparing the Copperworks 043 and 042 against the Ardbeg Ten. You will be able to discern the differences between the peat regions, and more specifically, you can see how the Ardbeg cask has imparted flavor on Release 043.
From water conservation to renewable energy, Copperworks prioritizes sustainability at their facility. The use of a former peated Islay cask helps lower carbon emissions, but it also connects Copperworks’ ties to Scotland. The stills in which the American Single Malt Release 043 are produced are traditional copper stills made in Scotland.
Since 2016, Copperworks, among several distilleries, has been an integral part in getting American Single Malt recognized as its own whiskey category. The formation of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission that Copperworks helped found was recently granted by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau the category it desired. Copperworks continues to lead the way in making American Single Malt, especially with the latest Release 043.
Vital Stats: 50% ABV, 100 proof. An American single malt aged for 3 years before finishing in an Ardbeg cask for an additional year. Limited to 331 bottles. 750ml $76.49.
Appearance: Deep gold
Nose: Smoky butterscotch masks the acetone at the beginning of the dram. However, lemon oil wafts up to the nostrils with a hairspray. Toasted meringue adds sweetness, where tobacco leaves meld everything together including the baking spice.
Palate: The whisky is hot, more like a rye than a single malt. The mouthfeel is oily but velvety. The tobacco from the nose is there and same with the lemon oil. However, there is the surprising flavor of dill. The smoke takes its time to develop during the sip, but when it does, it is that familiar taste of Islay.
The Copperworks Release 043 proves that you do not need to smoke the malt directly to have a peated whiskey. I was a little skeptical of how much the Ardbeg cask would impact the Copperworks American Single Malt, but the impact is big. Release 043 is complex with vegetal notes. Despite the dill I picked up on the palate, I still very much enjoyed this whiskey from Copperworks.
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Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...