Review: Copper & Kings Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Review: Copper & Kings Kentucky Straight Bourbon

The spirits portfolio from Kentucky’s Copper & Kings has been a bit all over the place since they started distilling a decade ago. While mostly focusing on brandy in numerous forms and finishes, they’ve also dabbled with gins, absinthe, and even triple sec. But despite distilling in downtown Louisville, the beating heart of America’s bourbon boom, they never deigned to offer the same brown water as their neighbors. Until recently, that is.

Copper & Kings Bourbon is a sourced blend of straight bourbon whiskeys aged 5, 10, and 15 years and finished in the distillery’s own Apple Brandy barrels for a full year. At least some period of aging, presumably the in-house finishing time, has utilized C&K’s sonic aging process, a concept not unlike Blackened that relies on subwoofers to pulsate the liquid against the barrel wall, thereby increasing surface contact.

This isn’t the first time a bourbon has been finished in Copper & Kings brandy casks. Past attempts were made in collaboration with Bardstown Bourbon Co. and FEW (among probably others), but with marginal success. Bringing the process under Copper & King’s purview has apparently made a world of difference. The aroma is rich and layered with warm notes of dark caramel, buttery toffee, and gooey apple pie filling. As it opens, things lighten up a bit with brighter notes of candy apple and butterscotch. On the palate, an initial rush of caramel apple gives way to warming dark spices that simmer across the sip. It’s well-balanced with an almost creamy texture. Notes of candied citrus, baking spice, and brown butter unfurl on the midpalate before a generous finish of clove, apple turnover, and candied citrus arrives. The flavors here aren’t anything particularly new, even with the added orchard fruit dimension, but everything comes together with impressive balance and depth.

The distillery announced their new bourbon in October of last year, and it was largely overshadowed by a particularly busy release season that saw a bunch of shiny new whiskeys from bigger brands. That’s a shame because this bourbon ranks up there with some of the better recent releases, in my opinion. Here’s hoping there’s more bourbon to come from this little brandy distillery.

111 proof.

A- / $65 /

Copper & Kings Kentucky Straight Bourbon




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.

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