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Copper Fox Rappahannock Single Malt

Unique, Mouthwatering Complexity

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@PizaroReview by @Pizaro

26th Jan 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Or, more fully, Wasmund’s Rappahannock Pot Stilled non-chill-filtered Single Malt Whisky, Batch #78, aged 11 months, 96 proof.

For more details on this whisky and the distillery that makes it, go here: www.copperfox.biz

To begin…

This is when I start to question my own sanity. Yes, this smells a bit repulsive – so why do I nose it again and again? Because there’s more in there my nose wants to extract, but the aromatic layers here don’t give themselves up easily.

Really! – Smell that!

The nose goes back in to do its work, again and again.

I have no actual experience with embalming fluid, but the first whiff off this whisky is what I imagine embalming fluid smells like. Some cross between an unsweetened cough suppressant and cleaning fluid. Something deep memory is telling me not to allow past my lips.

And yet, as my nose continues its steadfast labors, the whole air-of-a-funeral-parlor-basement smell dissolves like an hallucination. And when I open my eyes (and nose) a second time, I’m standing in a chocolate factory. It’s all here, from Quik and dark cocoa powder to creamy white chocolate.

This is odd: What they’re serving for lunch in this chocolate factory is apple pie. There is definitely a good, tasty, old-fashioned slice of apple pie in my glass. With a bit of cinnamon on it, but very little sugar, if any. This is good, but not sweet, just-made apple pie.

Tilting my nose back out of the glass, I think I discern a wisp of cherry - fresh cherries - or am I only saying that because I know cherry wood was used in the very hands-on process behind the making of this whisky? It hardly matters. Now that I’ve thought it and written it, I detect fresh cherries every time the nose dips back into the glass.

But, wait – what’s that? A malty pecan nuttiness develops…

My oh my! Already, the nose on this is deliciously complex. And now that I’ve discerned all of these edibles in the aromas rising from the glass, the suspicion of embalming fluid is gone completely. Maybe that layer just evaporates after the first few minutes in the glass. In its place I now smell fine leather, polished wood, and maybe just a bit of – charcoal? Fruit wood charcoal.

Speaking of time (was I speaking of time? Oh, yes: Evaporation) – This is definitely the most time I have spent nosing a whisky made in America. Eyes closed, you will never mistake this for an American bourbon or rye whisky. None that I’ve tasted, at any rate. This is something different. As complex as a great single malt scotch – but, it doesn’t really resemble scotch, either. It is much more scotch-like, however, than bourbon-like or rye-like.

Though it has no peat aromas whatsoever, I would put this in the category of the deliciously odd with wonderful “acquired taste” scotches such as Ledaig 10, Longrow 7 Gaja Barolo and a few others. But maybe the word “odd” isn’t quite fair. Unique is a better word for these whiskeys.

Finally raising the sparkling mahogany-gold fluid to my lips, I find the palate this whisky brings is not quite as complex as the nose (how could it be?). It does not, however, disappoint. On the tongue, we finally get our first suggestions of sweetness. A dry sweetness, a very malty sweetness, in fact. There is a little bit of black raison paste in there, and fresh fruit, pear and cherry and apple, and interesting bitterness, and generous amounts of oaky spice. And a little nutmeg and cinnamon.

The finish is fairly long and spicy. And it has a pleasant warm burn that fills the mouth and gets down in the throat but does not make it to the chest. I really like it when a whisky carries that warm burn right down to my chest, all around my heart, but this one stops pretty much at the Adam’s apple.

Which, really, is just the tiniest quibble. Don’t let it stop you from seeking out and savoring this great whisky. If you’ve read this far, you know it took me on quite a journey, as enjoyable as any I’ve been on with drink.

And, to think, all this complexity, flavor and succulence cost me less than $40 at my local whisky emporium – Andy’s Market in Taunton, MA. I name the place because I am in awe of the place and it’s owner. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside – despite it’s location on the outskirts of a sooty old mill city in southeastern Massachusetts – there is a measured expanse of pure heaven for whisky drinkers there. Just sayin’…

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WhiskyBee commented

Terrific review of a whisky with which I'm totally unfamiliar. Thanks for the detailed notes. I would have never imagined that an 11-month-old whisky could be so tasty and complex.

9 years ago 0

Pizaro commented

Yes, I was very surprised by this one. If you go to the Copper Fox site and read about the process, you'll see that certain steps are taken to accelerate the maturation. The big question that remains for me regarding this one is: Will that rather repulsive smell that rose up when I first nosed the glass be gone now that the bottle is open and its contents have had time to breath a bit? I suspect it will be, because that odd aroma left the whiskey in my glass within 5 or 10 minutes and did not return even when I refilled my glass. In any case, I stand by my rating: This is a great whiskey!

9 years ago 0

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