New Whiskey: Lock Stock & Barrel 16By Jake Emen
The spirits world was shaken at the end of April, when news broke that Robert J. Cooper of The Cooper Spirits Co. passed away at the all too young age of 39. He’s perhaps most well-known for St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. However, for whiskey fans, his mark was indelibly left with a range of releases, including the highly touted Lock Stock & Barrel 13 Year, the more recent Hochstadter’s Vatted Straight Rye Whiskey, and the Slow & Low lineup, which fall into the Rock & Rye category. Now, just weeks after Cooper’s death, the follow-up to his most noted whiskey hits the market in the form of Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year.
“We tasted many barrels in our extensive collection of aged, straight rye whiskey and culled the finest that have matured to 16 years old,” said Cooper in an official statement prior to his passing. “Lock Stock & Barrel 16 is that rare but true combination of the finest whiskey and the best techniques.”
The Lock Stock & Barrel 16 origin story
Like its predecessor, Lock Stock & Barrel 16 was sourced entirely from Alberta Distillers Limited. For this bottling, Cooper Spirits selected the “best barrels of the best selects” from their inventory according to Robyn Greene, senior vice president of marketing and innovation with Cooper Spirits.
The whiskey was double-distilled in copper pot-stills, and is made from a 100% rye mash bill while utilizing what they term a “robust cut” during the distillation process. In other words, expecting a long-term maturation period, they were able to include a broader spectrum of distillate off the stills, confident the barrels would smooth things out over the years. It was aged in a cold weather climate for 16 years, entirely in new charred American oak barrels, and was then bottled at 107 proof.
For enthusiasts who still have some of the 13 year old lying around, the 16 is certainly reminiscent of the original, offering those signature minty and medicinal notes, rye spice, distinctive licorice, and baking spices, tied together with an underlying rich sweetness. The extra years in the barrel show up most substantially with an overall drier and oakier profile than the 13 year old. In comparison, it comes close to pushing up on that boundary of too much time spent in the barrel, but thankfully doesn’t get there, offering a smooth and hearty sipping whiskey meant to be savored.
A final gift from Rob Cooper
It’s a whiskey which deserves attention on its own accord, and like the 13, it’s a truly unique expression. Yet, considering the timing, there’s no way to avoid linking Cooper’s unfortunate passing with this new release. It’s as if he had one more gift left to give the world, one more showcase of his joyful enthusiasm and talent for expertly crafting something for the rest of us to enjoy. For that, raise a glass and toast to him when you pour yourself a dram.
While there are no specifically announced plans revealed for additional Lock Stock & Barrel releases, Greene did confirm that they have remaining aged stock which could be put to use in the future.
Lock Stock & Barrel 16 will hit store shelves by late May 2016. It’s a 3,000 case limited release, with bottles offered at suggested pricing of $149.99.
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