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Copper & Cask 6 Year Old Single Barrel Straight Bourbon (Barrel MK-155)

Copper & Cask 6 Year Old Single Barrel Straight Bourbon (Barrel MK-155)
As the old saying goes “there’s a story in every bottle.”  Wait, no, I just made that up.  Maybe somebody said it a long time ago and they probably said it about whiskey.  Anyway, whiskey is much more than just the liquid inside, it’s about the story of how that liquid got inside in the first place.  A major gripe among enthusiasts is that new distilleries will make up stories to try and give their brand more appeal so that they’ll sell more.  Some choose to buck that trend and not give us any story at all.  

A Flood of Single Barrels


For a brand like Massachusetts-based Copper and Cask, it’s the story they’re not telling us that is the most interesting of all: Why does this MGP-sourced bourbon have a mash bill that Green River Distilling (a Kentucky brand) uses?  For starters, Copper and Cask is an Independent Bottler.  This means they’re always sourcing different barrels to bottle up under their own label.  One of the main things about their very attractive bottles is just how much information is listed on them.  On the front label is the single barrel code (I believe MI-XXX has something to do with Indiana whiskey and MK-XXX has something to do with Kentucky whiskey) followed by the age and the proof.  On the back of the label, the state of distillation is listed along with the mash bill and the exact year and month that the spirit was barreled and bottled.
In May of 2022, Cooper and Cask released a huge amount of ~6 year old single barrel bourbons that all listed Lawrenceburg, Indiana as the state of distillation.  That’s nothing new as C&C has used MGP bourbon before but the interesting part is that the mash bill is listed as 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley.  That’s not a typical MGP mashbill.  In fact, that’s the exact mash bill that Green River Distilling (formerly O.Z. Tyler) uses.  This bottle shows a distillation date of June, 2015, but O.Z. Tyler was still a year away from filling their own barrel at that point.


Green River Distilling Mash Bill, but not made in Kentucky

So where is this story going?  Well, the O.Z. Tyler Distillery officially opened in Owensboro, KY in mid 2016 and many will recall that their first products were those dreaded bottles of Terrepure Bourbon.  If you’re unaware of what “Terrepure” is, it’s a bourbon that has sonic vibrations applied inside of the barrel to artificially age it.  That bourbon, by the way, also uses a 70/21/9 mash bill.  
It’s not entirely uncommon for two distilleries to share the same mash bill (Jim Beam and Wild Turkey do) but what I believe happened is that MGP was contacted by O.Z. Tyler Distillery to contract distill some barrels for them using their own specifications.  This is a common method of getting a head start on production before their own distillery would open.  And while I’m speculating that all of this happened this way, the numbers and dates line up enough to make sense.  I also wonder if the barrels that were contract distilled ever made it to Owensboro after they were distilled.  
Instead, it looks as if they sat in Indiana for a while until a buyer could be found.  Barrel brokers (a sort of “whiskey middle man”) seem to have found these barrels and purchased them.  Ironically, Green River Distilling had also gotten into the contract distilling business too as a means to secure some capital while they were still young.  So now in 2022, we have two different distilleries selling bourbon that has the same mash bill. This surely will lead to some confusion but I think the easiest way to tell MGP sourced barrels apart from Green River sourced barrels is if they use the designation “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” or “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.”  Remember that when adding the state name onto the “straight” bourbon designation means that the liquid had to be made in that state.  So if you ever see a brand using this mash bill but not claiming it’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon (like Thirteenth Colony’s Southern Bourbon does), it’s a good chance it’s from Indiana.  Copper and Cask just admits it up front.  
So now that I have cleared up (or confused you even more) with why this mystery bourbon exists, let’s get down to tasting the bottle.  For $60, this cask strength, almost 7 year old bourbon has a great value proposition going for it.  But does that mean that the whiskey inside won’t be as good?  Let’s find out.  I sampled this neat in a glencairn


Tasting Notes

Nose: Notes of sweet caramel corn mingle with roasted wood staves.  This nose has a great amount of oak right off the bat giving it a much more aged feeling.  Spices include anise, clove and cinnamon that showcase the high rye content while fruity notes of peach, cherry and apple pie filling all combine to make the nose a stunner. Also, a bit of warm toffee can be found.
Palate:  Spicier than I can recall most MGP bourbon, this has a beautiful Cinnamon Red Hots candy taste to it.  The hot flavor also seems to have some chili oil vibes to it.  There are lots of fruits that remind me almost like a whiskey that was finished in an Oloroso Sherry cask.  The youth is nowhere to be found, but there is a good amount of rye spices across the spectrum.  Herbal and botanical notes combine with mint and oregano to give a well-rounded flavor profile.
Finish: Sweet and spicy.  The red pepper flakes and sharp cinnamon give your taste buds one last kick in the ass before descending down your throat.  It’s fun and a bit hard to corral, but my mouth is asking “can we do it again, dad?”  The best part about the finish is how well the rye components and fruit components really shine at the end.  This dram has some serious depth and complexity, and may be one of the most intriguing MPG bourbons I’ve had in a long time.

Score: 8.3/10

There are many bottles I’ve bought, reviewed and never drink again.  Most of the time I just don’t care enough to revisit them because they’re boring.  This bottle of Copper and Cask is the exact opposite.  It is a bottle that, at the time of this writing, I’ve almost completely finished.  It’s one that I have passed around to friends, eagerly anticipating what their opinions are about it.  And for a majority of them, they have really loved it.
In fact, the only ding I could give this bottle at all would be that it’s a single barrel and unless you’re looking specifically for “MK-155,” you might not have the same experience that I did.  But since there were a decent amount released (I’m not sure how many barrels were released, but I’m guessing it’s more than a dozen), you should have a similar experience if you see the strange 70/21/9 mash bill on the back label.  I’ve talked to friends who have tasted another single barrel (MK-152 from Bottle King) who have really good things to say about it too.



As far as value goes, this is a great one.  I say that because back in 2020, 5 year old MGP was going for $10 per-year-aged no matter who was selling it.  It seems to keep rising by that formula as well now that 6 and 7 year old variants are out.  And even though this is technically 6 years old, the back label tells us that it’s just 1 month away from being 7.  That makes this $60 bottle come in under what the standard formula suggests it should cost.
But more than just being a great value, I generally can’t stop gushing about this bottle.  It’s a fantastic product no matter how you slice it and I would encourage anyone to buy one right now.  It is a well-layered, complex bourbon that is unique enough to stand out in a sea of MGP bourbon.  It is definitely going to be a contender for my most memorable bottles of 2022 list at the end of the year.

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Larry England

Friday 30th of June 2023

One of my favorite releases of the year! I’ve bought three bottles and plan to get a fourth. Loved it!