From the moment that I received my sample bottles of Coppersea Rye whiskey I understood the deeper reasoning behind this handmade product. This may not make sense to you, but I grew up on a Biodynamic farm in Morristown, NJ. The rules and reasoning of the earth as more than just a bunch of rocks is very apparent to the nature of distillation. There are lessons and techniques - like the Biodynamics that I grew up with- that apply to the principals of distillation, just like the winemakers who embrace this not so ancient art and science.
Biodynamics takes the entire cosmos into the theory of growth.
The use of simple, honest methods attract me in distillation. Just like when you meet the farmer who grows the grain that you eat, or the bee-keeper who spins the honey into jars for your tea, this connection is everything in the broader context. I see an opportunity to align myself with flavor as opposed to just commerce.
Coppersea uses locally grown grains to make their passionate spirits. Their rye comes from nearby the distillery and the water is also from the place. The yeasts are what float in the air- similar in many respects to the wild lambic beers of Belgium. Don't disturb the insects, they are part of the sense of place- and the yeast requires their company. It's out there, just beyond the periphery. You can taste it!
Coppersea does their version of Rye whiskey in an extremely hands off approach. They don't over engineer the process. It is made from 100% malted rye that is floor-malted and then ground un-kilned. You can taste the terroir of the grain in every sip. Rye is not for everyone however and your sips may not be what you expected at first. Rye, after all was almost killed off by prohibition when the corn lobby took over distillation. Rye is durable stuff in more ways than corn. It doesn't need many hands out down the line to grow. It likes harsh soil, whereas corn needs a nutrient rich slurry of mostly inorganic materials to grow.
I've always said follow population and you'll get distillation. Put a field of rye in your pocket (seed) and light up a small town. (With the end result...)
Rye is easy to grow and easier still to make into whiskey.
Coppersea should put an ingredients label on their bottles, because it would probably read, rye grain, water, wild yeast,.... and that's it!
This is a most passionate product!
1. Coppersea New York Raw Rye. Traditionally I'm not a fan of white whiskey, but the Raw Rye is anything but rough. My first impressions are of wet stone fruits, sea salt slicked stones and opulent warming from the 45% ABV. Each sip reveals a slurry of vanilla syrup, green apple and orange marmalade. There are little bursts of candy sugar that follow for a minute or more. Each sip is engaging and brassy. Creme Brulee notes are bringing up the finish with Spanish saddle leather in the nose. It's really easy too drink. I enjoyed my glass with a roast beef sandwich with Dijon Mustard on Pechter's Rye bread.
Drink this with preserved Vietnamese Lemonade, but just a splash... That stuff has both sea salt and simple syrup along with the hauntingly sour preserved lemons. Only use an ounce or so...... Trust me!
2. Coppersea New York Green Malt Rye... Ah this is the stuff that dreams are made of. Tangerine peels and sea salt dipped caramels give way to Granny Smith apple across my tongue like candy sugar fresh from the pot. There is freshly churned butter in the mid-range and bittersweet chocolate across my tongue. The rye malt is not kiln dried so it retains their exuberant, yet unforced style. The yeast does its magic and time seems to slow down with each sip.
Perhaps its the 45% ABV that is working its way through my brain?
Running all around my brain? Indeed.
This New York Green Rye is classy stuff, more than worthy to grace your bar in the urbane jungles or your weekend home in the Hudson Valley. If you're drinking this liquid, you are the kind of person who would never shout about what he/she has.
It's that kind of passionate product. Quiet elegance in each sip. Do nothing to the Green Rye... maybe a blood orange zest or a sprig of mint... but that's it!
My second book, Whiskey Cocktails is out for your enjoyment now... I like using independent book-sellers... Support local books!