We use traditional copper pot-distillation to forge non-traditional craft-distilled, natural, pure pot-still American brandies.
We make definitive American brandy influenced by American whiskey and American music. We do not make derivative brandy styled upon a European sensibility. Our brandies are batch distilled exclusively in copper pot-stills, are non-chill filtered, with no added sugar, boisé (powdered oak, shavings or infusion) other flavors, synthetic chemicals or caramel colorants for an uncorrupted, authentic, natural flavor, nose and color. Our aged brandies exit the barrel full integrity intact.
We adopt a “low & slow” distillation philosophy – a relatively low distillation temperature, for a longer, slower distillation, maximum copper contact, to express fruit intensity, concentrated flavors, aromas, and a velvet finish.
Philosophically the art of brandy distillation revolves around the concept of retention and concentration. The distiller is attempting to retain and concentrate the nuance found in the base wine. (As opposed to whiskey distillation where the concept revolves more around extraction and purification to palatability.) You “stroke” brandy into shape.
With that said, we believe that the art of brandy starts in the vineyard or orchard, and our wines are selected for superior aromatics and quality. Our focus is the distillation of unfiltered, un-sulfited wines. We are attempting to retain this essential character of the wine, the vibrancy and personality, and the better the base wine the better the brandy.
Our grape brandies typically use classic brandy varietals – (French) Colombard, Muscat de Alexandrie and Chenin Blanc. Grapes that have intense aromatics, and high acidity, for a distillate that is crisp and bright with a lovely nose. These grapes find their home in, and we source largely in, the Central Valley and Central Coast regions of California. It takes 5 tons of grapes to make 1 barrel of brandy, and California provides the ideal environment in which to produce grapes at sustainable scale. The fermentations are done at a very low +/- 64F to maximize retention of aromatics and fruit nuance.
We also distill an annual Kentucky vintage brandy using the Vidal Blanc grape varietal.
Our apple-wine is fermented and sourced from Michigan and is selected for its fresh, crisp, high acid, highly aromatic character. The fermentations are also done at a very low +/- 64F, with a superior (South African) white wine yeast selected for high aromatic retention.
Our aged grape brandy is matured in Kentucky bourbon whiskey barrels, and medium-char new American white oak barrels, for a distinctive new world American flavor, nose and style. Smooth and aromatic, but a little feisty and rambunctious. Our apple brandy is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and Spanish sherry casks.
Our original “DNA” brandy, first bottled in mid-2014, used sourced copper pot-distilled brandies from fine purveyors who were generous enough to share some of their wares. This DNA has continued to evolve over the years as aged brandy is added to younger “new make” in a variation of the classic solera system. Spirit distilled in Butchertown will start entering the bottled blends in Spring 2018.
We believe that the barrel as a maturation vessel is pivotal, critical and beyond essential to the quality and character of our aged brandy. It is the vessel that adds texture, fragrance, complexity and balance to the spirit. At Copper & Kings we firmly believe that American Oak is a perfect medium for brandy maturation. American Oak is high in lactones, which when toasted release more linens and vanillin to provide warm, buttery, woody, vanilla and coconut flavors. It is this honeyed warmth and caramel that we find so attractive in our American Brandy (and other brown spirits).
We also believe that a used bourbon barrel, is a perfect maturation vessel for brandy – some of the power has been taken from the barrel by the original whiskey, and as brandy distillate is quite delicate and very malleable, this is helpful, and we also try and extract some of the whiskey notes in to our distillate.
We do not dilute from still to barrel, so our entry proof is approximately 135 proof. We also do not dilute with water to compensate for the “Angel’s Share” during maturation, preferring to concentrate and intensify the spirit profile.
We have an extensive partnership program with exemplary American Craft Brewers where we swap barrels with each other, and in our case we are aging our American Brandy in barrels previously used to age dynamic world class craft beers. These are released under the Copper & Kings CR&FTWERK sub-brand. We also have significant investment in novel barrels from New American Oak barrels that use ex-Oloroso sherry butt wood for kindling, Kentucky hogsheads, tequila barrels, Port barrels, Mistelle fortified wine barrels, and Serbian Juniper barrels.