Whisky Review: Cooper Spirits’ Lock, Stock, & Barrel 20-Year Rye

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by The Cooper Spirits Company. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced 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.

Bourbons and ryes with age statements more than 15 years have divided the whiskey community. While there have been ryes aged 21 years and higher, Cooper Spirits is one of the first to release a 20-year-old specifically. On that note, Coopers Spirits’ Lock, Stock, & Barrel 20-Year Rye is limited to 3,000 bottles. 

Founded in 2006, The Cooper Spirits Company is based in Philadelphia. Robert J. Cooper expanded the family business of Charles Jacquin et Cie, makers of cordials and liqueurs. Cooper rose to fame with the creation of St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur used by bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts worldwide. 

The United States history of whiskey starts with rye. The purpose of The Cooper Spirits Company for the past few years has been to revive the classic American spirit. Conversely, the 20-year-old Lock, Stock, & Barrel rye is made of 100% Canadian rye grain and matured in Calgary. 

Alberta Distillers Ltd., provides Cooper Spirits with the same rye whisky used for the 20-year-old Alberta Premium label. So why not bring the barrels to Philadelphia to mature? Well, the climate between Philadelphia and Calgary is vastly different. Compared to Philly, Calgary stays more cool year round. 

The issue with bourbons and ryes aged in warmer climates over 15 years is that the influence of the new American oak overpowers the flavor. Keeping the barrels in a cooler climate is supposed to prevent this, hence why single malts from Scotland can have big age statements. So let’s see how the Lock, Stock, & Barrel 20-Year rye from Cooper Spirits fares. 

Lock, Stock & Barrel 20-Year Rye Whiskey

Lock, Stock & Barrel 20-Year Rye Whiskey (image via Cooper Spirits)

Tasting Notes: Cooper Spirits’ Lock, Stock, & Barrel 20-Year Rye

Vital Stats: 56% ABV, 112 proof. 20-year-old 100% rye mashbill matured in 3.5 charred new American oak in Calgary by Alberta Distillers Ltd. The hand selected barrels produced 3,000 bottles. 750ml $389. 

Appearance: Dark amber with glints of brass

Nose: At first the nose comes off sour, but it’s more like a pure wedge of lemon. Marzipan and toffee add a little sweetness and nuttiness. Peppermint finds its way in the middle. Towards the end, the rye gets woody and spicy with a mixture of cedar plank, tobacco, and clove. 

Palate: Pressed cocoa powder and espresso greet the tongue. The slight bitterness lifts away bringing in marzipan. French vanilla shows up big, which helps to subdue the slight acetone taste in the middle. The dried wood and clove from the nose also come in near the end on the palate, but nutmeg sneaks in. The finish has lots of butterscotch. 

The Takeaway

Summary

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For a 20-year-old rye in American oak, the wood does not overpower the rest of the palate. While there are dessert-like flavors, the rye is not overly sweet or syrupy. The rye spice is not too hot and is balanced with the ABV so it does not burn. I'm really impressed and find few faults with this whiskey, but I cannot say I have ever not enjoyed a dram of Lock, Stock, & Barrel. As for the price, you are paying for the age statement, but it is a fair deal, so buy a bottle if you find it.

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