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  • Writer's picturePeter Miles

First bourbon from Copper Fox.

Copper Fox Dawson’s Reserve Bourbon.

Dating back to 2005, Copper Fox runs two distilleries in the state, one in Sperryville and another in Williamsburg. This distiller uses the most traditional production methods and locally sourced ingredients. Owner, Rick Wasmund, who apprenticed at the Bowmore distillery on Islay, did not take the easy road. Not content to be just a ‘distiller’, he starts at the very beginning, seeking out locally grown grains and making use of an ‘in-house’ malting floor for the barley. Perhaps the most unique aspect is the use of fruit woods, both in the kilning and added as chips to the barrels. In addition to single malts, they also produce some excellent rye whiskies with various maturing approaches. Their port and cognac barrel finishes are truly excellent. Take the tour at Williamsburg if you get the chance.

Copper Fox introduced its first bourbon into their product line, about a year ago. This four-year-old whisky is named after the late Billy Dawson, a local farmer who supplied Copper Fox with quality grain.

Mash bill: 60% corn, 20% wheat, 20% malted barley. (What? No rye?).

Batch: GWR.

Matured: 48+ months in first use American oak barrels, char level #3. ABV = 45%.

Cost: $63 / 750ml bottle

Color: Amontillado Sherry: 0.9 (Whisky Magazine scale). Very attractive in the bottle.

Swirl: Nice rim created with multiple medium sized ‘legs’ dripping down the glass.

Nose: Overall, surprisingly light. Dried fruit aromas, perhaps peaches or apricots with red currants and dates, faint hints of spice, some teak oil and more than a touch of the Copper Fox brand defining, slightly astringent, fruit wood smokiness.

Taste: Excellent viscous feel, quickly coating the tongue and inside of the mouth. The base sweetness from the corn is upfront and there is also some sweet orchard fruit. It is well balanced by dry oak and smoke notes. It remains smooth and integrated as an attractive heat slowly develops but it never gets sharp or fiery. Nice.

Finish: Rich and satisfying with the smoke persisting through a medium finish.

Verdict: A different and intriguing bourbon, but pretty much what you might expect for a Copper Fox ‘smoked malt’ bourbon. If you are looking for a quiet, laid back, drink and forget bourbon, this isn’t it.

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