Whisky Review: Coppersea New York Corn Whisky - The Whiskey Wash

Whisky Review: Coppersea New York Corn Whisky

Coppersea New York Corn WhiskyCoppersea, like Islay’s Kilchoman and New York state’s Hillrock, takes craft distillation to a whole new level. Vertically integrated estate whiskey ties these distilleries together. Much like farm-to-table production, estate distilleries bring the distillation process as geographically close together as possible. Coppersea’s 70 acre farm produces the bulk of their grains, all traditionally floor malted on site and milled by hand. Fermented in small open air wooden tanks, Coppersea uses the sour mash method.

Coppersea New York Corn Whisky, not technically a bourbon, is aged in a combination of re-toasted, used bourbon, rye, brandy, and wine barrels. Eighty percent corn and 20% malted barley, Coppersea meets the New York state standards for “craft” whiskey, with at least 75% of the grains hailing from the state. Barreled at 101 proof, and bottled at 48% ABV, Coppersea New York Corn is aged six months. The expression I tasted was distilled in Jan/Feb of 2015 and is batch 15-1, bottle 141.

This is not the first Coppersea whiskey we’ve looked at – earlier this year we explored their green malt barley and rye expressions. In summary we found that it was good the bottles they came in are so beautiful, because we thought they might be in the liquor cabinet for a while, brought out on occasion when only the strangest sip will do. Will the corn whiskey be the same? Let’s find out.

Tasting Notes: Coppersea New York Corn

Appearance: Light golden peach; butterscotchy and bright, but with a pink tint to it.

Nose: Instantly smells young on the nose. Young, hot, and rich, Coppersea has all the qualities I hope to retain into old age. Sweet, malty, and entirely reminiscent of white dog. The only quality separating Coppersea from smelling exactly like white dog is a distinct barnyard and hot hay element.

Palate: Grain-forward and young, Coppersea’s youth makes it difficult to distinguish any defining characteristics past its obvious new make status. While it wouldn’t be 100% fair to state that all new make tastes the same, the overwhelming majority share much of their flavor profile in common; Coppersea is no exception to this rule. Sweet corn and hot hay are the only elements I could glean from the palate. Grassy and vegetal, the finish is surprisingly crisp and clean for such a young spirit.


Hot hay all the way, Coppersea was a whisky that I was very keen on trying from the get-go, but was ultimately too young to make a serious impression. Six months in barrel does not seem to be enough time to express the distillery’s mission of capturing “Hudson Valley terroir.” To me, terroir means the meeting of the land and hand, not simply the sourcing of the product. Whiskey doesn’t make itself, and without the skillful hand of the producer, I do not believe terroir can truly be expressed or honored. Terroir means the taste of place, and the place Coppersea tastes like to me is fresh off the still.

I applaud Coppersea for their methodology, but wonder when American craft whiskey producers will take more time to honor their spirit.


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