Whiskey Review Round Up: Coopers' Craft Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review Round Up: Coopers’ Craft Bourbon

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

Coopers’ Craft is a relatively young whiskey label for an established spirits company, being the first bourbon in 20 years added to the lineup at Brown-Forman back in 2016. It was originally created as a way to pay tribute to the coopers that make all barrels Brown-Forman whiskies are aged in. In 1945, Brown-Forman founded the Blue Grass Cooperage where it was closed to the public up until 2009. Renaming the cooperage for its own namesake, the Brown-Forman Cooperage continues to produce about 1,500 barrels a day.

While Coopers’ Craft doesn’t provide a mash bill, or go into much information at all, you could probably guess that it is similar to Old Forester or Woodford Reserve. For the Coopers’ Craft Original, they use a charcoal filtration process to not only impart some extra flavor but to also smooth it out. Unlike Jack Daniel’s, which uses maple charcoal, Coopers’ Craft uses beech and birch woods for its charcoal.

A step up from Coopers’ Craft Original, and bottled at 100 proof, is Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve. For this expression, the coopers at the Brown-Forman Cooperage chisel out grooves in the white oak barrel staves before charring. This allows for the whiskey distillate to touch more surface area and increase the flavor.

Now let’s get down to the fun part, the tasting.

Coopers' Craft Barrel Reserve

Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: Coopers’ Craft Original Beeched & Birched

Vital Stats: 41.1% ABV (82.2 proof); Kentucky straight bourbon with no age statement filtered through beech and birch charcoal; 750mL; ~$22 to $25.

Appearance: Light amber.

Nose: The first thing that I notice is the smokiness followed by so much honey I think I am near a honeycomb. A large amount of butterscotch that clears away to reveal fresh baked apple pie.

Palate: The honey

Final Thoughts: The Coopers’ Craft Original Beeched & Birched is very easy to handle. While it is similar to Old Forester, the beech and birch charcoal really make this Kentucky straight bourbon stand out. They broke the bourbon making rules, but I’m going to let it pass. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, but I am particularly fond of a lighter bourbon when the sunshine starts sticking around.

I would recommend this whiskey, especially for newcomers to the brown spirit. Seasoned whiskey drinkers may not like it because it isn’t overly complex or nuanced, but it’s a nice daily sipper that won’t break the bank.

Score: 4/5

Tasting Notes: Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve Chiseled & Charred

Vital Stats: 50% ABV (100 proof); Kentucky straight bourbon with no age statement, and held in charred barrels that are chiseled and grooved to deepen the flavor; 750mL; ~$30 to $33.

Appearance: Light amber, just a tad darker in color than the 82.2 proof.

Nose: Bright apple lays underneath the forward acetone. It is more on the perfume side of things. I get a tiny hint of cherry amongst the char. Finishes with sweet cinnamon raisin and a touch of cereal.  

Palate: Drinks hotter than 100 proof. This one changes notes as it moves to the back of the tongue; it goes from fruity to grassy. The char adds a bit of smokiness that isn’t overpowering. The finish is dry, and the aftertaste leaves a mix of hay and coffee to linger. While the nose implicates that this whiskey would be sweet, it in fact it very mellow in sweetness.

Final Thoughts: Although more complex than the Coopers’ Craft Original Beeched & Birched, it comes off higher octane than it is. I prefer dropping the proof with a splash of water or soda.

Score: 3/5