Just because the name says Single Malt, and the “e” is omitted in whisky, that doesn’t mean that this whisky is in any way similar to single malt Scotch. In fact, this whisky is not much like anything else, not even bourbon. And that’s the way Rick Wasmund designed it. I was challenged to try to detect just what I was tasting, not to mention conjuring up something it tastes like. This may be a new species of whisky !
I discovered this bottle on a lark while traveling, at a store that had so many bottles that I had not seen before. This one was curious and just seemed to uniquely and quietly stand alone among the ranks of scotches and bourbons.
According to the distiller, Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky is pot-stilled in small batches, one barrel at a time, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. The whisky is distilled from malted Virginia barley, that is dried and flavored with the smoke of fruitwoods, such as apple wood, cherry and oak, instead of peat. The relatively rapid maturation is largely due to the proprietary addition of toasted apple wood chips, which are also commonly used for barbecues. Distilling at Copper Fox began in 2006, and only 3 people do all of the work.
My bottle is from Batch No XXX (30 I suppose), and it is really hard to believe that this whisky is only 18 months old.
The top of the bottle has an attractive, but deceiving wax-coating, and though I was disappointed to not find a cork, the hard plastic screw cap is of high quality, and works (and seals) very well :)
Glass Nose: A potent and forthcoming, strange and daunting, yet intriguing aroma … what on earth is this … and just how do I explain what it is like!? Maybe raison-scented industrial cleaning fluid, wet cardboard, and a ton of fresh-cut wood. This is not like anything else I’ve ever encountered, and in fact, not much like anything even edible. The nose is really not bad, but neither is it greatly appealing. After a bit of water, we might find a few additional notes … perhaps some burnt caramel and cinnamon.
Bottle Nose: The next day the bottle made available lovely and luscious scents of fudge, chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch, over the still very woody background. Some hints of herbs and flowers can be noticed if you are quiet.
Palate: A very small sip offers a pleasant, flavorful, surprising soft, and velvety semi-sweetness … all accompanying an eye-lifting and very novel flavor … perhaps a flowery or herbal essence. The palate continues on with potent freshly squeezed wood juice, with a dusting of cinnamon, paprika, anisette and pepper.
Finish: This is a medium-long, and quite satisfying finish … with a sustained and regulated dose of warmth, with nothing harsh or unpleasant. The very end leaves you with a slightly bitter and dry aftertaste. At times, a bit of youngness may bleed through, but if you control the method and size of your sips, you probably will not even notice.
Adding water seemed to soften the whisky a bit more, and to bring out some extra flavorful pleasantness.
Conclusions: My foremost reaction is that this is a very different and distinctive “single malt”. There is not a lot of complexity, and not a lot going on; you pretty much get one show per sip … but it is a good one. The whisky is neither young, thin, timid nor cheap-tasting, but pleasing, unpretentious, confident, and soft. It is likely that you would never guess that it is only 18 months old. Finally, there is the feeling of reserved dignity, honesty and integrity … similar to how I would characterize Bulleit and Jefferson’s bourbons.
Now, we have to compare Wasmund’s with Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey … another innovative stranger to our familiar flavors. With each of them possessing their own uniqueness, they are both members of my novelty category. Stranahan’s has a different weird sort of nose and flavor, and it is livelier and more engaging than the more reserved Wasmund’s. But I would hesitate to claim any superiority either way. If fact, I might like to pour a Wasmund’s while reading a good book or while ice fishing, but rather take along some Stranahan’s to a barbecue or to a soccer game.
I suppose that if I was first introduced to something like Wasmund’s, rather than Scotch or bourbon, then Scotch or bourbon might seem relatively different and strange. Wasmund’s is a new taste on the market that is ready to be experienced and compared … and ultimately embraced or rejected. There are other innovative whisky distillers, and these all could conceivably grow into a new major category in whisky. Also, these types of whiskies might be fun to include in (and liven up) a tasting session … especially one in which you must try to identify your sample :)
Copper Fox also produces rye whisky, high-proof spirits for creating your own custom whisky, barrels and barrel kits. The fact that this is a new and innovative distiller, that is trying to grow among the tall giants, seems to justify a little extra attention and interest. This distillery story is quite interesting and there is much more to say about it; but I am afraid that I may run Connosr out of review space if I don’t quickly refer you to the distiller’s website: www.copperfox.biz
And here is a good review of the rye expression, by @Victor: connosr.com/reviews/copper-fox/…
So sit down sometime, and spend some time with Wasmund’s whisky, and get to know each other … perhaps invite a friend … and you may even make a new friend :)
Score: 82/100 … liking it more and more