Review: Copper Fox Distillery Sassy Rye and Cognac Finish Rye

Review: Copper Fox Distillery Sassy Rye and Cognac Finish Rye

Virginia’s Copper Fox Distillery has been busy of late. They continue to expand at their second distillery and tasting room in Williamsburg, which opened in 2016. That distillery is larger than the original Sperryville location near the Shenandoah Valley and will eventually house a still twice as large as their original, a bigger malting house, and more barrel storage. They’ll clearly need the added capacity because the brand continues to expand into new markets and add new products to their portfolio. We received samples recently of two of their newest whiskies: Sassy Rye, a permanent addition to the core line, and a very limited, gift shop-only release. Let’s dig in!

Copper Fox Sassy Rye – This is a 100% single malt rye whisky produced using light to medium sassafras root smoke in the malting. The nose is exotically spiced with incense, cinnamon stick, black licorice, and freshly ground peppercorns. It’s all laced with an unusually sweet smoke, almost mesquite, and a subtle note of baked apples. On the palate, it’s oily and light with honeycomb, citrus candy, malt balls, and more licorice. The smoke is nicely integrated, giving the experience a savory and spicy edge. The medium finish sees that smoke dissipate into slightly drying barrel notes, sweet oak, and chocolate-covered cherries. 90 proof. A- / $57

Copper Fox Cognac Barrel Finish Rye – This bottle started life as Copper Fox Rye before being finished for four additional years in a cognac barrel. The nose shows ample evidence of the finishing with notes of golden raisin, polished wood, and new leather. Deeper digging unearths the rye spice with notes of clove-studded orange and black pepper. On the palate, you don’t have to look as far for the rye. It’s instantly bright and lively with dried stone fruits, baking spice, and sweet oak. A creamy texture and gently warming heat develop into the mid-palate with juicy citrus, bread pudding, and vanilla custard. The finish sees a reprise of rye spice, along with fading oak and tobacco. There’s a lot going on in this one, but it never gets out of balance. Nicely done. (700 bottles produced.) 100 proof. A / $180

Copper Fox Cognac Barrel Finish Rye




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.