Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apple Brandy Week: Copper & Kings Apple Brandy

I've been a big fan of Kentucky brandy producer Copper & Kings, but so far, I've only reviewed their grape brandies and beer cask finished brandies. They also make apple brandy.

Like all Copper & Kings aged brandies, their apple brandy is sourced. The brandy is a blend of apple brandies distilled in a number of states and is aged in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks. It contains no additives.

Today, I'll review three Copper & Kings apple brandies. Their original aged apple brandy, released last year, the new Floodwall Apple Brandy and their Tequila cask finished 3 Marlenas Apple Brandy.

Copper & Kings Apple Brandy, 50% abv ($40)

The nose starts with dry apple notes, like a good cider. It goes on to develop some herbal/botanical notes. The palate is distinctively spicy with baking spices. The finish is spicy/woody. This doesn't have a huge apple character, but I really liked the spice notes.

Floodwall Apple Brandy, 4 years old, 50% abv ($40)

This is similar to the original release, reviewed above, except that they used smaller sherry casks and it has a four year old age statement. The nose is apple and spice, like a mulled cider. The palate is dry and spicy with a distinct sherry note. The finish has sherry with a very slight apple note. This tastes like what it is: a more sherried version of the first apple brandy.

3 Marlenas Apple Brandy, 5 years old, 50% abv ($40 for 375 ml)

This five year old apple brandy spent its last two years in Tequila barrels. Sure enough, the nose on this has Tequila and apples like some kind of apple Margarita. On the palate it's got apple, oak and then a light Tequila note that lasts into the finish. I really like this one. It has pronounced Tequila notes but they work with rather than overshadowing the apple. It's a fun brandy.

Ever the innovators, Copper & Kings is the only producer I know of using whiskey style finishes with apple brandy. My favorite of these three was probably the standard apple brandy from last year which had a nice spicy character. I also enjoyed the Tequila/apple balance on the 3 Marlenas. The Floodwall was good, but it tasted much more of sherry than brandy, almost like a brandy de Jerez.

Thanks to Copper & Kings for samples of Floodwall and 3 Marlenas.


kpiz said...

Thanks for highlighting all these apple brandies. I bought a bottle of the C&K apple brandy about a year ago and was inspired to open it last night after reading your post. I'm on the fence about this one - I found the sherry influence to be rather strong and perhaps covered up what could have been subtle apple flavors.

Also, do you know if the 3 Marlenas will be widely distributed? That sounds like it's up my alley.

sku said...

Thanks for your comments kpiz. The 3 Marlenas should be available in all of C&K's markets, which include 27 states.

Joe H. said...

I find this business and proclivity so interesting.

In truth last years iteration of aged apple brandy is probably the least favorite of anything we have done. Yet it has been one of the most popular products we have made. I found it too woody, although I do like the spice (as everyone knows). I really like the 2016 Floodwall expression, this is heading exactly towards where we want it to be. I like the suppleness and flex that the butterscotch brings to the typical crisp profile of good apple brandies.

It is no secret that we tend towards a "whiskey" style in all our products - this is what happens when the tools are spirit + barrel and no adulteration with boisé or caramel color. And this is more important relative to apple brandy - no adulteration by apple flavors or essences. I have become a complete skeptic to overt powerful apple notes in apple brandy. Although my friend Dan Faber tells me that it takes 10 years or more of maturation for that note to appear - so....

I did like Dave Driscoll's description - Glendronach meets Calvados. that will do me.

On Monday night we had a brandy dinner and the final pairing was a Normandy style apple tart (with cream) and 3 Marlenas (in a simple sherry glass at room temperature). It blew me away. Try it.

Final perspective. The blend in the bottle right now is predominantly Pac NW, with Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, and NY as well. Michigan starts to become more dominant in this or next years blend, and then more and more as our own juice enters the DNA. The youngest apple brandy in the blend is 4 years - there's a fair bit quite a bit older.