Last week, I sampled Wasmund's Single Malt Whiskey from the Copper Fox distillery in Virginia. Wasmund's Single Malt has been out for a few years but Copper Fox has a new rye whiskey on the market, and given how much I like rye and how interesting I found the Wasmund's malt, I had to try it.
Like their single malt, the Copper Fox rye is different from any other rye on the market. It's not a straight rye whiskey as it is aged only 14 months (straight ryes must be aged at least two years). Copper Fox Rye is made from a grain recipe of two-thirds rye and one-third barley. Most straight ryes include a fair amount of corn, and while Anchor's Old Potrero is 100% malted rye, I'm not aware of any other whiskey with a pure rye-barley mash bill. As with the Wasmund's single malt, the rye is aged with applewood, cherrywood and oak chips. The whiskey is aged in used Bourbon barrels.
Copper Fox Rye Whisky, 14 months old, 45% alcohol ($50)
The nose is similar to Wasmund's with the fruit wood in the forefront. There's also a fresh leather scent (new couch?). There's only the smallest hint of rye on the nose. I have to admit that I cringed a bit upon tasting this. There is a flat alcohol note that is unpleasant. It's not harshly alcoholic, more on the bitter side. It may be that the rye simply doesn't blend with the fruit woods as well as the malt, or at 14 months, it may just be too young, or both. The rye flavor doesn't arrive until mid-palate and then on the finish, but the bitterness stays on my tongue for longer than I'd like. You can feel the hints of rye and malt as if they are struggling to get out and be heard among the acridity, but sadly, they don't make it.
Note to Rick Wasmund: I'm afraid you should go back to the drawing board on this one.