Updated July 17, 2017
By Debbie Shocair
The Cooper Spirits Co. is the creation of the late Robert Cooper, whose early genius brought St. Germain elderflower liqueur to the spirits community. This rare 16 year old straight rye whiskey is their most release, and came out only shortly before Cooper’s untimely passing at age 39.
This new expression of Lock Stock & Barrel is double-distilled from a mash that is 100% rye, then aged, unfiltered, for 16 years in new charred American oak barrels, and bottled at a respectable 107 proof. “We tasted many barrels in our extensive collection of aged, straight rye whiskey and culled the finest that have matured to 16 years old,” said Cooper.
Having won highest honors at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this release from Cooper Spirits is limited to 3000 cases. While I seldom fawn over packaging, the LS&B 16 black bottle and elegant label, along with the cork closure intrigued me. I expected a lot from this rye, elegant packaging notwithstanding, and I’m quite pleased to say it did not disappoint.
On the nose, this 16 year rye was redolent with candied fruit and dark chocolate. Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water brought out a depth of sweetness to the aroma that I’ve not experienced in a whiskey before. I studied it carefully, and the more I mused the more I noticed notes of fresh-baked spice cake.
At a hefty 107 proof, the mouthfeel was as expected, tingling the whole tongue and palate, a bit like a carbonated beverage. Without question a smooth, grown-up rye, LS&B 16 slid down with barely a whisper, leaving a long, lingering finish that began with oak, then progressed to sweetness, and rootbeer, finally finishing with dried cherries. This is a rye I heartily recommend for any whiskey lover. Deeply complex, sweet, both strong and smooth.
Addendum by Richard Thomas
In the glass, the whisky had a light copper appearance, and the liquid showed some real viscosity. It was quite reluctant to drop any legs, instead forming a crown. It took over a minute for the beads to drop.
The nose is quite fragrant, being packed with cake spices and supported with notes of mint, lemon zest and musty wood. It’s sweeter, with a core not unlike a smores, what with the graham crackers, marshmallow and toastiness. I say that because the spiciness of the rye is very much in the vein of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, whereas the sweetness has a certain, “stick a spoon in it and it will stand up” character. The only thing not part of that campfire picture is the note of mint and the strong note of old wood. The finish rolls off the latter, and is quite oaky.
It’s officially priced at $150, and that is by and large what it still goes for a year after its release. However, some retailers have it discounted as far as $120, so shopping around might pay off.