Virginia’s Copper Fox Distillery has been mixing up impressive craft cocktails at both their Sperryville and Williamsburg locations since the state loosened restrictions on on-site beverage sales (which still aren’t loose enough, if you ask most Virginia distillers). It’s no surprise then that the distillery has added a cocktail-friendly amaro to its lineup. Amaro y Arroyo is the brainchild of Jon Arroyo, a former bartender and bar manager turned amaro maker who has worked with the distillery for years. To make this amaro, Copper Fox macerates 25 different botanicals in their unaged bourbon mash spirit made from Virginia-grown corn, wheat, and hand malted, peachwood smoked barley. The amaro is then finished in ex-Virginia wine casks and infused with hand-cut toasted Chestnut wood before being sweetened with a mix of local honey, agave, and cane sugar. Let’s check it out.
The honey and agave offer up a dark, syrupy sweetness on the nose which is balanced against gently bitter notes of licorice, gentian, and whole spices. As it blooms in the glass, the baking spice gives way to aromas of Oolong tea and subtle, dried herbs. The palate is round with a surprisingly balanced sweetness given the caramelized undertones of the nose. Top notes of citrus peel and candied grapefruit are supported by a well-spiced and mildly-bittered foundation of chili flakes, saffron, rhubarb, cinnamon stick, and freshly-grated nutmeg. The finish is soft and honeyed, lingering on the top of the tongue with clove syrup, a bit of cola, and licorice. An impressive craft Amaro with a little more high tone complexity than some of the classics. Enjoyable on its own, but pairs particularly well in a cocktail with Copper Fox’s slightly smoky rye and single malt.
A- / $40 / copperfoxdistillery.com