The highly acclaimed Coppersea Distillery is located on a 70-acre farm in New York's Hudson Valley. It is a bona fide "farm-to-glass" distillery that specializes in handcrafting fine whiskies and eaux de vie from locally sourced grain and fruit. They make their spirits the same way they have for the past century, relying on methods long ago abandoned by other distillers as too expensive or labor intensive.
There's no better example of this than Coppersea New York Green Malt Rye Whisky, a 90-proof sensation made entirely from premium, floor-malted rye. The distillery is one of the few in the country that doesn't kiln-dry its rye, or "green" rye malt, a practice that leaves the whisky's flavors intact.
After the grain has been malted, it is milled by hand and mixed with water from the distillery's on-site well. The mash is transferred to a large wooden tank where airborne, naturally occurring yeast is used to precipitate fermentation. Master Distiller Angus MacDonald then double distills the fermented wash in a hand-hammered, copper alembic still wrapped by a custom-made still oven. He retains a portion of the each distillation and added to the next batch, a practice called sour mashing. Sour mashing helps create consistency between batches.
After the young whisky emerges from the still, it is placed in barrels made from New York State white oak for 7 months, The copperage air-seasoned its staves for at least a year. The whisky is lightly filtered prior to being bottled at 45% alcohol.
New York Green Malt Rye is a marvelous, single malt, skillfully crafted and brimming with character. During its stay in oak the whisky develops with a rich, copper hue, a silky, lightweight body and an enticing bouquet saturated with the aromas of chocolate, anise, honeysuckle and light spice. The aromatic signature is a singular pleasure. Its entry is soft and gentle as it quickly expands, bathing the palate with creamy malted rye, toffee, vanilla, cinnamon and semisweet floral flavors. The finish is long and spicy warm.
The distinguished farm distillery also makes unaged Coppersea New York Raw Rye Whisky. It is made in the same manner as the Green Malt Rye, except for the mash bill is comprised of 75% raw, un-malted rye and 25% malted barley, and the whisky is left unaged in oak. It's worth mentioning the New York Raw Rye Whisky doesn't serve as the foundation of any other Coppersea expression.
Historic New York Raw Rye is crystal clear with a complex bouquet laced with the aromas of cucumber, flora and heather honey. The whisky's bouquet is somewhat slow in developing, so afford it ample time to breathe. Your patience will be richly rewarded. Coppersea Raw Rye is remarkably smooth for an unaged, 90-proof spirit. It has a creamy body and a generous palate of spice, floral and vegetal flavors. The lingering finish is satiny smooth and brilliantly flavored.
The Coppersea Distillery is something of an anachronism. Their total reliance on traditional practices—what they refer to as heritage methods—ensures they'll never be able to compete financially with larger suppliers who place the emphasis on quantity over quality. That said, it's highly unlikely Master Distiller Angus MacDonald is going to lose any sleep over it.