- On October 8, 2015
Copper & Kings has been kicking around Minneapolis for just over a year, and boy are we glad to have them! Distilling in the heart of bourbon country, these iconoclasts are producing top quality brandies and absinthes that will absolutely bowl you over. We’ll be hosting a sampling of their products this Saturday from 2-4, but if you can’t make it in, here’s some notes for your further education and edification!
Copper & Kings is a real-deal artisanal brandy producer. In America, these are surprisingly hard to come by nowadays! Turn the clocks back a couple of centuries, and we’d see them littering the countryside. Luckily, the move to micro in cocktail culture has fomented some great new producers. Copper & Kings have cut no corners, and their Butchertown facility is exquisite. Two copper Vendome stills dominate the production area, and rightfully so. These are the show pieces as well as the workhorses. From these two pot stills, we see a number of spirits emerge, some to slumber for a number of years in barrels of various kinds. None of their stuff is chill-filtered; they add neither sugar nor boise, or any other artificial crutch to prop up their product. All of their brandies stand on their own, and oh how they stand! The three spirits we will focus on are some of their flagship products, as well as their newest product to debut in this market.
We’ll start with the rawest form of Copper & Kings’ production methods: their Immature Brandy. Produced from Muscat grapes, this brandy, while unaged, has a richer flavor than would be expected. It is distilled only two times, with a batch proof not exceeding 135. Why does the batch proof ceiling matter? The higher you distill a spirit, the more neutral it becomes. Distill something all the way to 190 and you’ll have NGS (neutral grain spirits), a clear, flavorless and thoroughly uninteresting beverage. The lower the temperature, the more cool proteins and esters come over and remain in the spirit. These flavor compounds are quite intense, but can turn a glass hazy if the spirit is chilled. This is more of an issue when it comes to whiskies, generally, but we here are all for them! The Immature Brandy has a fruity nose, of course, but an herbal note comes through with a hint of sweet nuts. The flavor follows through on what the nose promises, with an extra bit of earthiness. Probably better for cocktails, but definitely delicious on its own. ($29.99)
Taking a note from other microdistilleries around the country, while their spirit is aging Copper & Kings has packaged a blend of brandies that they have purchased from various producers. Just like what High West does with their whiskies, so too Copper & Kings. There is a fine art to this, and if you do not have a deft hand you can tarnish the brand you are looking to build. Some of the brandy has been bottled as is, some has been aged further in both ex-bourbon and medium-char new American Oak barrels to give the flavor profile that Copper & Kings considers their “DNA”. If there were ever a spirit to sway a bourbon drinker, this would be it! Blind tasting this, one could easily confuse it for a fruit-forward example of our native spirit. We find a lot of familiar flavors here: vanilla, caramel, with light fruits and demerara sugar closing in. The body is fantastic and resonant, with a bit of heat at the finish (it is 90 proof after all!) ($27.99/ regularly $34.99)
We just tried the newest entry from Copper & Kings this week, and we were darn glad to! Reaching back to America’s roots, they are giving us a new craft apple brandy with really interesting finishing touches. Aged in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels, sherry casks & butts for a minimum of 4 years, this apple brandy has an incredibly dense flavor. The nose presents with candied apples and honeycomb, paired with peanut brittle. Seriously. The flavor starts out dry and a bit austere, but moves to a lively, spicy sherry influence, rounding out with marzipan and baking spice. It has a bit of an abrupt finish, with dry baking spice lingering on the tongue; as if you’ve just had a great slice of apple pie. Being bottled at 100 proof makes it perfect for cocktails (they think of everything!) ($39.99)