In 2016, Brown-Forman launched Coopers’ Craft Bourbon, its first new bourbon brand in 20 years. Now, Brown-Forman is back at it again with an extension of the Coopers’ Craft line, Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve. This latest release, which comes in at 100 proof (the original is 82.2 proof), will roll out to 12 states starting in January 2019 and feature updated package design.
The new Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve isn’t just a higher-proof iteration of the original, however. Seeing as the brand is an homage to coopers (which Brown-Forman employs plenty of since they are the only major distillery that owns its own barrel cooperage), the barrels themselves play a large role in distinguishing the original from the new bourbons.
The original Coopers’ Craft uses the necessary American White Oak barrels for aging and follows the process with a run through beech and birch charcoal filter. In comparison, Barrel Reserve is aged in a uniquely chiseled and charred American White Oak barrel, allowing for more interaction between whiskey and wood.
This isn’t the first time Brown-Forman has created special barrels for a whiskey project. Among their many bourbon releases, Brown-Forman has also crafted specially-grooved barrels for Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select, for example.
“Consumers will be able to experience the distinctive taste that [the Kentucky boubon] tradition delivers in the only bourbon that celebrates the barrel-crafting art.”
“Kentucky bourbon is famous around the world for its maturation in new, charred oak barrels,” Brown-Forman master distiller Chris Morris in a statement. “Consumers will be able to experience the distinctive taste that this tradition delivers in the only bourbon that celebrates the barrel-crafting art.”
If you enjoy Coopers’ Craft Bourbon, you will find some similarities, but also some differences in the new expression. Where the original is soft and a bit reserved, Barrel Reserve is bigger and bolder. On the nose, you’ll find fresh oak, char, and cinnamon with hints of leather and orchard fruits underneath. On the palate, the cinnamon spice is again a big player, with caramel apple, poached pears, oak, and vanilla all evident. As some of the flavors fade in the finish, you’re left with more oak and cinnamon.
Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve will retail for around $31.