“Oh look, another NDP rye from MGP” – that was my first thought when looking at the Kooper Family Rye. I was right… but I was also wrong. This product, blended in Texas, is a combination of the famous 95/5 MGP rye and a 51% rye from Tennesse made by an undisclosed distillery. Though if I were to hazard a guess at the source it would be the Tennessee Distilling Group who’s emerged as the MGP of Tennessee.
TDG was founded in 2014 and is currently making whisky for Uncle Nearest and several other brands. The age lines up for a 5-year-old whiskey and given it’s a rye, they seem like the best logical fit. But getting back to this release, once the two ryes are blended they’re put into used casks to marry. This multi-state blending, and re-casking, is why the whiskey isn’t listed as a Straight Rye or even a Blend of Straight Ryes.
And while they do release more information about the whiskey sourcing on their website, which is awesome, what’s on the bottle kinda makes it sound like they distilled it and there is no listed state of distillation. So I have to call them out on that because it could be a bit misleading if you think you’ve bought a Texas product, then go to the website and find it’s a blend of IN and TN rye. Anyways, now that we know what’s in the glass, let’s get to sippin’.
Kooper Family Rye – Details and Tasting Notes
Distiller: MGP (IN) & Undisclosed (TN)
Bottler: Kooper Family Whiskey Co.
Blend: MGP = 95% Rye and 5% Malt | TN = 51% Rye, 36% Corn and 13% Malt
Cask: New Charred Oak & Used Cooperage
Age: 3 Years
Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Saltwater taffy, clay minerality. buttered biscuits, copper, SPICE, oak and orchard fruit with a light touch of dill.
Citric acid, grassy rye, toasted bread, vanilla, oak, orchard fruit and cinnamon-meets-dill herbal spice.
Long -> Oak, spice, copper and saltwater taffy and herbal.
BALANCE, BODY and FEEL
Good, medium and lightly oily
Kooper Family Rye – Overall
Aroma starts soft and darkly sweet with a touch of spice but turns more bready as it opens and brings with it a touch of copper and dried fruits; Palate picks up a touch of pie crust as it opens, but retains that spicy, citrusy, oaky goodness you want in a nice rye – it’s not bold, but it’s not delicate either; Finish carries the most oak with a softly sweet and spicy character playing through.
I like this quite a lot and I’m excited to play with it in more cocktails and see how it does in high balls this summer. This is a workhorse.
Kooper Family Rye – Final Thoughts and Score
I like what they’re doing, I love that they’re open and upfront about sourcing on their website and that they’re establishing themselves as a blending house like High West… but they need to be more clear on their labels which aren’t exactly up-to-snuff. No mention of IN or TN on the back of the label and on the front it says “aged in select white oak casks” with no mention of being finished in used cooperage.
These are key things that need to be on a label and change it from “a blend of straight ryes” to “a blend of straight ryes aged in used cooperage”. As soon as that blend hits those used barrels, it ceases to be strictly a blend of straight ryes. BUT, technical quibbles aside, this is a decent rye.
Kooper Family Rye has a warmth that just won’t quit. It’s as good as it gets for a “standard rye” and hits that perfect swagger you want in a basic rye that’s tasty neat and works well in cocktails. This is wonderfully serviceable rye and am quite happy sipping it right now.
*Disclosure: The bottle for this rye whiskey review was graciously sent to me by the company without obligation. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Kooper Family Rye Review
On the upside of standard with a warmth that just won’t quit and a spice profile that fades for days. I’m excited to make more cocktails with this!
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