By Debbie Shocair
There is a reason I’m so vocal in my excitement about American craft whiskey, and this expression from Copperworks Distilling Co. in Seattle exemplifies why. Their Release 001 began as a craft beer brewed from two varieties of pale malt before being twice distilled in traditional copper pot stills and growing up to be a fine single malt whiskey.
Let me stop and mention for a moment that for quite some time, when I spoke about the craft whiskey industry (and I mean the smaller, startup, creative craft distillers), I would explain that because it is time-consuming, laborious and expensive, few people were doing it and doing it well. It seems that this description has turned. I am discovering that more passionate distillers are making fascinating and enjoyable whiskies apart from the established traditions, and I am pleased for the opportunity to report about them.
You see, when I refer to beer as “baby whiskey,” I’m not just being cute about it. I’m telling a factual truth, and it’s a truth that Copperworks co-founders, Jason Parker and Micah Nutt have heartily embraced.
“From the very beginning, our plan has been to use our brewing backgrounds to produce an exquisite whiskey in the newly emerging category of American single malt whiskey,” says Parker. Nutt agreed, going on to explain that distilling the product twice “enables us to collect more of the beer and malt flavors we want.” Parker’s professional history as a brewmaster, along with Nutt’s experience as a talented home brewer have come together to produce an altogether lovely and very interesting product.
Copperworks Release 001 began its life as a beer brewed at the Elysian Airport Way Brewery, also in Seattle. Copperworks then twice-distilling it in copper stills and laid it away to mature in new charred oak barrels for 30 months. With a final yield of something just over 1,500 bottles, this new American single malt was released August 27, 2016.
On the nose, this delightful craft whiskey was grassy and really a bit beer-ish, with sweet caramel, bright citrus and honey rounding out the initial aromas. Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water brought out distinct candied fruit, as well as bringing citrus and honey closer to the front, along with subtle notes of ginger.
The mouthfeel on this American craft was extra gentle, especially for a whiskey bottled at 104 proof. There was only a little tingle at the back of the palate as I swallowed.
The long finish featured cocoa, toasted oak, cinnamon, pepper, and a hints of leather. It was a bit spicier than I expected for a single malt, but was altogether lovely and interesting.
If you are a fan of the American craft whiskey movement, the Copperworks American SIngle Malt, Release 001 is one you should consider adding to your collection. Bright. Unique. Enjoyable.
Copperworks Release 001 is available for sale in the Copperworks tasting room as well as the company’s online store (shipping where state law allows) for around $59.