Brown-Forman may be most known for its brands Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, and Old-Forester, but they have plenty of other spirits to choose from. One of those is Coopers’ Craft Bourbon. It’s a whiskey that undergoes charcoal filtering and is meant to honor the barrel makers of Brown-Forman. We figured this was a unique bourbon with a unique story, produced by one of the largest and most storied whiskey producers in the world.
In this review, we’ll cover the history, flavor profile, price, and more of Coopers’ Craft Bourbon to help you answer the questions, is it good? Is it worth buying? We’ll also discuss what it means to be a Cooper and its importance.
Coopers Craft Bourbon History
Brown-Forman is the 5th largest spirits and wine company in the world and one of the oldest. They have been around since the late 1800’s and own a wide variety of brands. We touched upon their ownership of Jack Daniel’s, Woodford, and Old-Forester, but this is about Coopers’ Craft Bourbon. While Coopers’ Craft is a newer brand, their timeline can be traced back to 1945.
In 1945, Brown-Forman purchased the Wood Mosaic Company and turned it into a cooperage. A cooperage is a place or business that crafts wood barrels, and a cooper is the person who crafts them. While most whiskey producers outsource their barrels, Brown-Forman is able to produce them in house.
This brings us to 2016, the launch of Coopers’ Craft Bourbon. After 70 years of the Coopers’ hard work and dedication to “raising” barrels, Brown-Forman decided to release a bourbon to honor them. Coopers’ Craft comes in two selections, their original straight bourbon and their 100 proof barrel reserve.
Importance of Barrels
We often talk a lot about a whiskeys mashbill. Is it corn, rye, wheated, malted barley? What percentage of each? The mash bill is also important for classifying the whiskey. Bourbon uses at least 51% corn. Rye, 51% rye. Scotch and Irish Whiskey use mostly malted barley, depending on the type. Well, maybe the more important part is the barrel.
Before whiskey spends any time in a barrel, it is essentially moonshine or even vodka I suppose. According to the Coopers Craft website over 50% of the flavor in a whiskey comes from the barrel. Others say that it’s closer to 60-80% of the flavor. The specific percentage… no one can really say. We do know that it plays a large role, though. That’s precisely why Brown-Forman produces their own barrels, they know how important it is.
Coopers Craft Bourbon Overview
- Whiskey: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Owned By: Brown-Forman
- Distilled By: Brown-Forman
- Aged: NAS (Minimum 4 years per straight bourbon guidelines)
- ABV: 41.1%, 82.2 Proof
- Mashbill: 75% corn, 15% rye, 10% malted barley
So far, this seems like your standard straight bourbon. It’s aged at least 4 years, has a typical bourbon mashbill, and is bottled just above the typical 80 proof. What sets this bourbon apart is the charcoal filtering process it goes through.
Jack Daniel’s was the first whiskey to go through something we now know as the Lincoln County Process. This process involves steeping whiskey through charcoal, specifically sugar maple charcoal. It’s this process that, along with location, that separates Tennessee Whiskey from Bourbon. Now, Coopers Craft does things slightly different. Instead of maple charcoal, their whiskey is filtered through their Beech and Birch charcoal.
Coopers’ Craft Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, we can answer the real questions you have. Is Coopers Craft good bourbon? What does it taste like? Let’s pour ourselves a glass and find out!
Nose: Nothing crazy going on here. Honey is the most prominent aroma followed up by baked apple. There’s a light oak undertone as well.
Taste: Apple & lemon, oak, light vanilla and spice. Decent to above average mouthfeel, fairly smooth.
Finish: Medium in length, very light heat making it quite easy. vanilla and fruit fade into a leather undertone.
I’m a fan of Coopers’ Craft Bourbon. It’s certainly got a fruitier profile than I anticipated with strong notes of apple and lemon, but it’s quite easy. There’s plenty of vanilla and honey thrown in as well which actually helps dull any heat.
Often times I can be turned off of sweet and fruity bourbons due to the heat. A sweet and hot bourbon is just something I’m not a fan of, but there’s relatively little heat in a glass of Coopers’ Craft Bourbon. There’s nothing super complex or rich about a glass, so don’t expect anything about a glass to WOW you, but it’s an easy and tasty starter bourbon.
Coopers Craft Bourbon Price
Alright, so we appreciate Coopers Craft Bourbon, but also realize it’s not a whiskey for an aficionado. Let’s take a look, then, at it’s price tag. Does the price match the quality? Is this bourbon a steal, fairly priced, or over priced? We take a look at various Total Wine stores across the country to come up with an average price range.
Coopers Craft Bourbon 750ml Price: $20-25
I purchased my bottle for $23, and at that price, this is an even better bourbon. It’s cheap enough to mix with whatever you want, and it’s good enough to enjoy on the rocks.
A $23 bottle of Coopers Craft Bourbon is a great deal. If you’re looking for a budget daily drinker, this may be it. There are times when I want to enjoy a really good whiskey. Often times, this comes in form of a bottle much closer to the $50 price point. There are other times where I just want a drink, and don’t want to go through my more expensive bottles. That’s when a bottle like Coopers Craft comes in handy.
Coopers Craft Bourbon Summary
In 2016, Brown-Forman released Coopers’ Craft Bourbon to honor the men and women who “raised” barrels that Brown-Forman whiskey would eventually age in. These men and women are coopers, and they’ve produced millions of barrels for Brown-Forman over the last 70 years. It’s great that these workers are being honored, and it’s even better that they’re honored by some solid whiskey.
Coopers’ Craft Bourbon is by no means the best of the best. It’s not complex, it doesn’t have a WOW factor, but it’s not supposed to. This is a $23 bottle of whiskey that is tasteful and easy to drink. In addition, it’s not super thin and cheap either. Pour yourself a glass neat, on the rocks, or with some coke. Coca-Cola that is. If you’re looking for a quality budget bourbon, this could be it.
How Old is Coopers’ Craft Bourbon?
Coopers’ Craft, as a brand, has been around since 2016. The whiskey itself is a NAS (No Age Statement) whiskey. This means it was aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years.
Who Makes Coopers’ Craft Bourbon?
Coopers’ Craft is made by Brown-Forman at the Brown-Forman distillery in Louisville, KY.
Is Coopers’ Craft Bourbon Good?
While this is a relatively subjective question, here at Barrel and Brew, we think so. The whiskey itself is good quality for the $23 price point. The mouthfeel is pleasant, it’s flavorful, and easy to drink. It’s a great option as a starter bourbon, or a more budget friendly option to drink neat or in a mixed drink.