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Copper Fox Rye Whisky

Average score from 4 reviews and 6 ratings 85

Copper Fox Rye Whisky

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Copper Fox Rye Whisky

Never had a whisky this young before, yummy!Dark copper colour, forming thick oily legs. Winey hay smell...reminds me of sugared strawberies soaked in brandy and diped in fresh cream!Ends with a firey bang with fading apple and cherry.Medium finish ..prolonged by the spice residue. I've poured a 4th time (small amounts) as I'm having dificulty describing taste...sweet cherry liquer. wow!

@bourbondrinker, thanks for your review. That's cool that you can get Copper Fox Rye over in Cyprus. I've sampled from three bottles of it, and own a fourth, unopened bottle.

The Copper Fox Distillery is located in Sperryville, Virginia, 82 miles from where we live in Maryland.

@Benancio, Copper Fox Rye is indeed quite unusual. Jim Murray has in the past called distiller Rick Wasmund, the "mad scientist" of whiskey making.

The mashbill is 2/3rds rye (you can assume unmalted rye, because he did not declare malted rye), and 1/3 malted barley. The barley was lightly smoked with a combination of 60% applewood and 40% cherrywood.

From an unopened bottle of Copper Fox Rye, bottled Jan 13, 2012, and aged for 12 months:

"Aged with a progressive series of new and used applewood and oak chips, inside used bourbon barrels, and finished in a second used bourbon barrel."

No, @Benancio, this one tastes a good deal different from a typical US rye. It is very fruity in unusual ways, i.e. apple fruity and cherry fruity, plus the fact that it is aged in used barrels, which removes it from ever being able to be considered straight rye whiskey, even if it were the minimum two years old, which it is not.

I've seen significant variation in batches of Copper Fox Rye. At its best it is fantastic in quality in addition to being of a unique style. Jim Murray reviewed one batch at 83 pts and another more recent one at 91 pts. I reviewed one bottling at 79 pts, but I have had some which would rate for me up around 90 pts. Copper Fox Rye is interesting, sometimes really delicious, but so far not very consistent.

Interesting description and it sounds good, but that doesn't sound like any Rye whiskey I'm use too.


This particular Copper Fox Rye (Bottled after 14 months) has a good dose of fruit and a healthy dose of leather to the nose. Spicy yet smoother than I would have imagined given the nose. A great deal of alcohol when I first poured it, after a few minutes, it settled into something intriguing that I didn't mind sticking my nose into for another half hour. Pretty delicious stuff. Although I tend to like my ryes aged for two years or more, I see where Wasmund's was going with this and appreciate it all the more for the innovative touch.


Copper Fox is a micro-distillery based in Virginia, USA. In addition to rye they also make a single malt called Wasmund's. The bottle has a label that's designed with hand written copy and since they are such a young distillery and there product is still aging and the date on the bottle is hand stamped. My bottle is dated April 14, 2010 and is 14 months old.

This whisky is a little different from most ryes in several ways. First, it's labeled 'Rye Whisky', not 'Rye Whiskey'. It's mash bill does not include any corn: 2/3 rye, 1/3 malted barley. The malting uses: light smoke, 60% apple wood, and 40% cherry wood. Lastly it's aged in used bourbon barrels along with apple wood and oak chips. This gives it a unique flavor.

Nose: Fruity, cherry. Some apple sweetness, but definitely much more cherry. A bit of oiliness, like cherry juice with alcohol.

Palate: This tastes young. Good bit of rye spice. You can pick out the fruit but it's not sweet at all. That probably also has to do with the lack of corn (maze) in the mash bill. It's a bit light and less viscous that I expect for something that had an oily smell. The fruitiness does a decent job of covering the youth.

Finish: While not particularly burning it can be a little harsh. Light wood flavors (I guess that's the applewood?) . Coats the throat some but still finishes to soon.

I tried adding water and found the cherry flavor goes way down on both the nose and taste. Then you can really get a sense of the apple. The finish all but disappears.

If you are a 'taster' (someone who goes around buying everything just to try it) or love cherries this would appeal to you. I couldn't see using it in a cocktail , too much cherry for a Manhattan. Though if you like Manhattans it may be worth trying straight. With coke it can make a nice drink. Coke Zero with a shot of Copper Fox tastes like Cherry Coke Zero with Old Overholt.

This is an unusual experimental sort of rye, with a different than traditional taste profile. Most traditionalists don't like this one too much. Corn would not make it sweet, unless the sugars were not fermented adequately. New make corn whiskey is quite sour, rarely with any substantial noticeable sweetness. The sweetness would come with more time in the wood. The fact that this is aged in used oak is even more reason that there isn't appreciable sweetness. The fruitiness comes almost totally from the cherry and apple woods used in the aging and smoking. I like this rye ok, but a lot of people don't. Its flavours do make some great cocktails, though.

The 14 months age statement seems much too young for a rye whiskey/whisky. I wonder if 2 to 3 for years in wood wouldn't improve this spirit.


Copper Fox Rye Whisky is made at Rick Wasmund's Copper Fox distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. The Copper Fox Rye is made from a mashbill of 2/3rds Virginia rye and 1/3 hand-malted barley which has been kiln-dried using only the smoke of smouldering applewood and cherrywood. The whisky is aged in used bourbon barrels which contain new and used applewood and oakwood chips. The review sample was bottled December 8, 2009 and was aged 12 months. The whisky was double pot-distilled and non-chill filtered

Nose: rather strong apple-pie, cherry cobbler, honey, rye spices, and a little caramel

Taste: a little fruit at first, then intense spice, then more fruit and increased sweetness. There is a little oak flavour in the background. This is a very flavourful whisky

Finish: the fruit sweetness and the spices last a medium length of time and then give way to a sort of tart-bitter apple flavour

Balance: this is a product which blazes new paths in whisk(e)y-making. This is not US standard Straight Rye Whiskey, both because it is not sufficiently aged to meet that standard, and also because it is not aged in new charred oak barrels. I like this whiskey a lot, though some local bartenders of my acquaintance are not big fans. I do think that Copper Fox Rye Whisky expands the repertoire of rye based whiskey flavours in very useful and desirable ways, and that there will be many many experiments in the next 20 years in using woods other than oak to influence the flavours of rye and other whiskies. I would strongly recommend to anyone to taste a sample of Copper Fox Rye Whisky in order to experience a different sort of flavour profile

@Shell, yes, it would be interesting to see what 2,3,4,5,8 or 10 more years in wood would do to Copper Fox Rye.

Rick Wasmund does whatever the heck he wants to down there in Sperryville, Virginia, at his Copper Fox Distillery, so it is anybody's guess as to whether or not he will have the patience to wait and age some of his rye distillate a few more years. It would be interesting to see. Jim Murray refers to Rick Wasmund as the "mad professor of American whisky...always seeing what he can cook up next with his experimentations".

The 12 month age statement seems much too young for a rye whiskey/whisky. They seem to lean toward producing very young ryes. I wonder if 3 more years in wood wouldn't improve this spirit.

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