Copperworks American Single Malt Review

I finally got my bottle and immediately poured myself a wee dram in a Glencairn glass. As I'm sitting here sipping, I have a big stupid grin on my face because I've been excited for Copperworks Single Malt to come out for years. Jason and Micah did an excellent job on this one!

The Make

Copperworks American Single Malt whiskey (Release #001) is made from a 100% Washington pale malt mash, twice distilled in copper pot stills, and aged 30 months in new American oak barrels.

The Nose

The nose on this whiskey is delicious and elegant: although it's 104 proof, there's no ethanol burn when taking a deep breath. The scent is like a single malt with a sweeter, fuller backbone consisting of apple, cherry, tropical fruit, brown sugar, a strong oakiness, and something slightly herbaceous that I can't quite pin down. The malted barley definitely comes through with a touch of what reminds me of melanoidin malt. A touch of mint and an amalgam of floral notes finish off the nose. 

The Palate

Smooth as can be. One wouldn't guess that this is 104 proof, but it's a great example of where I like my whisk(e)y: slightly higher proof for a fuller flavor. 

The barley is strong with this one! It's malty and bready and delicious, with that characteristic barley sweetness that isn't cloying but is mellow and present throughout the sip. There is a distinct note of graham cracker early on as well that transforms into something more akin to bread pudding.

There is this zen moment in the middle of the flavor profile where I can almost imagine that I've just taken a sip from a well-made Old Fashioned—the balance of orange notes, mellow sweetness, and cinnamon with a slight cherry tone lingers just for a moment, but this taste is amazingly reminiscent of the classic whiskey cocktail. A touch of lemon and mint are notable as well.

The Finish

The only thing I'd change about the finish is to keep it going for an hour after each sip: it's great like the rest and I wish there was a little more of it. Barley is present throughout. At the very end, menthol, bready goodness, and orange zest make way for earthy and oak flavors with some notes of fennel and pepper.


I couldn't be more pleased with how Copperworks Single Malt turned out. In hindsight I wish I had ordered two bottles... 


Editor’s Note:
Mark Weller is one of the founders of the Seattle Whiskey Collective and has recently moved to Arizona to pursue a PhD at Arizona State University. Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey 001 is unfortunately sold out, but you can still purchase release 002, which is similar in flavor but a touch stronger at 106 proof. This month we had the opportunity to taste them side by side along with other American single malt whiskeys at our monthly meeting. If you’d like more information about our tastings or membership, drop us a line via email or sign up on our email list

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby

This blog will be updated throughout the week to highlight bars and whiskey brands in Seattle who are celebrating the Kentucky Derby. Check back often!

On Saturday, May 7, 20 horses will take to the track for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Possibly more important than the race though is bourbon. Lots and lots of bourbon. Since the Kentucky Derby is ran in the state where bourbon was created, it's always been a race associated with bourbon, and specifically the mint julep cocktail.

The Barrel Thief (Fremont)

3417 Evanston Ave N #102, Seattle, WA 98103

This year, The Barrel Thief is hosting their Kentucky Derby Party with their neighbors, The Sixgill. Both bars are having contests and games, drink specials, and broadcasting the race. And after the race, they’ll have stick pony races in the parking lot. Prizes will be awarded for best hat and those who guess the winners.

If you wish to reserve a booth or table, or inquire about larger group reservations, please write to

The Bottleneck Lounge (Capitol Hill)

2328 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

The Bottleneck will have Maker’s Mark mint Juleps and plenty of additional Kentucky bourbon on hand as well. Prizes will be awarded for best hat as well as the coveted Seattle Slew Best Dressed for Derby Excellence Award.  

Enjoy burgers and fries from their sister bar, Two Doors Down (where the race will be shown as well). Kids are welcome in Two Doors Down. No cover at Bottleneck or Two Doors. Race day schedule is as follows (more or less):

Doors at 2 p.m.
The traditional singing of My Old Kentucky Home:  3:00 p.m.
Post Time:  3:10 p.m.
Presentation of Prize for Best Hat:  4 p.m.
Presentation of the Seattle Slew Best Dressed for Derby Excellence Prize:  4:15 p.m.

J.P. Trodden Distilling (Woodinville)

18646 142nd Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98072

The event at J.P. Trodden will run from 1-5 p.m.
$25 gets you a mint julep or bourbon punch plus lunch. Beer and wine will be available to purchase through their neighbors, DiStefano Wineries. The cover also gets you $10,000 in “live betting money” for your chance to pick the winners in their in-person live betting booth.

Prizes will be awarded for: Ladies best hat, most dapper gent, most money won.

Tavern Law (Capitol Hill)

1406 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Doors will open at noon at the Tavern Law. There will be complimentary food to go with Bulliet mint juleps. Take pictures with your friends at the photo backdrop. The best dressed as well as the best photo post from the event will each win dinner and cocktails for two at The Old Sage!

The Westy Sports and Spirits (West Seattle)

7908 35th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126

The Westy will be showing the race as well as running a shuttle to Emerald Downs. The shuttle will be limited to the first 25 people to sign up. Price is $20 and that includes two beverages (pearl vodka, rebel yell, or el mayor) and a happy hour appetizer. The shuttle will leave the Westy at noon and departs from Emerald Downs at 4:30 pm.

The Whisky Bar (Belltown)

2122 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the Whisky Bar.
Featuring Makers Mark, Makers 46 and Makers Cask Strength plus Makers Mark Mint Juleps.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Mary's Place ( Cash donations will be accepted and $1 from every Mint Julep sold will also be donated from the Whiskey Bar.

Prizes will be awarded for: Prizes for the best women's and hats for men.
Dress in your most dapper KY Derby outfit!

People and Whiskey and Seattle

It was a bit selfish, initially. Three of us were newly married working our first jobs out of college. Nothing about us said rich or exclusive. Meanwhile, Seattle’s cocktail and spirits scenes were booming.

My friend Ryan had been a home bartender for a while, and a few others wanted to get more into whiskey, but it’s an intimidating and expensive habit! Nobody wanted to buy multiple $50–100 bottles of whiskey just to discover they didn’t like what they tasted.

Besides buying individual pours at a bar ($10–20 each, depending on your taste), there was only one other local option, a “society” requiring monthly, quarterly, and annual dues — oh, and a dress code. Why was everyone making this so hard? We didn’t care what the ads said — income, clout, nor dress should be barriers to taste and learn about whiskey.

In the Summer of 2013, a selfish idea quickly became something we knew must exist for the people just like us we’d yet to meet. With my friends Mike, Mark, and Ryan, we formed the type of community we ourselves wanted:

  • A way to taste and learn about whiskey
  • In an environment as open to beginners as veterans
  • Among people with similar interests
  • For as low a cost as possible

The point wasn’t that we were experts ready to share our genius with the public (although we’ve thankfully been able to share our growing knowledge with many people over time). This was about people, pooling together their resources, to share in their interest of whiskey on a monthly basis. We called it the Seattle Whiskey Collective.

Today, 50 members pay $15/month to taste three ounces of American whiskey at monthly gatherings. The leftover alcohol goes toward member cocktail parties and events, and we try to plan additional free distillery tours and other local meet-ups to foster friendships any way we can.

As more and more people ask me about what we do, the best way I can explain it is “equal parts whiskey and community.” As our website states, all we’re doing is gathering to taste whiskey together, and we let the rest happen from there.

We have members who are men and women, young and old, novices and collectors. A few have been with us since the very first meeting, and new people join all the time. Friends have been made here, events planned, bottles shared, and new favorite flavors discovered.

Whatever the Seattle Whiskey Collective becomes, I hope it’s always known as a whiskey group that only works because of its people. There are lots of ways to drink whiskey, but we think it’s better together.

Originally posted on Mark's Medium

Going Blind

Sometimes you gotta go blind, when tasting whiskey that is. Earlier this month, we had our 22nd meeting and our beverage of the night was three great rye whiskeys: Sazerac 6-year, ri(1) Straight Rye, and Willett 6-year. Every time we choose to do a blind tasting people love it and we look forward to doing many more in 2015.

Know Your Whiskey

Sazerac 6-year Rye

Made by Buffalo Trace, this rye is the younger brother of one of the best rye whiskeys on the market, Sazerac 18-year. It also shares a name with one of my favorite cocktails, the Sazerac. It’s mash bill is 51% rye, 39% corn, and 10% malted barley.

ri(1) Straight Rye

This funky bottle definitely stands out on any liquor shelf. I avoided it for years because it’s so damn tall and didn’t fit in my liquor cabinet. But it’s a dang good rye. It’s aged a minimum of 4-5 years and although Jim Beam, who makes the whiskey, doesn’t reveal mash bills, I have it on good authority from an inside source that it’s roughly 70% rye.

Willett 6-year rye

A 95% rye and 5% malted barley from MGP that’s aged in Willett warehouses for six years, this whiskey is cask strength and you could definitely tell at first sip. I wrote a little about my love for all things Willett in this recent blog

Our Tasting Notes

Sazerac has a great nose of cinnamon and apple, reminiscent of cinnamon-apple instant oatmeal. There is a lot of sweet maple on the first taste followed by spice that comes slowly but lingers for a long time. Not too hot and not heavy on the rye spice. Also notes of mint and cherry.

ri(1) has a sweet, mild nose with not a lot happening. Not a ton of rye spice on the palate. Despite a rumored 70% rye, many (including me) thought this tasted more like a bourbon. There is a lot of caramel and even touches of oak and corn. It's very drinkable and approachable but also lacks boldness.

This Willett has a sweet nose that also smells like grass. But not fresh cut grass, old grass. One of the members thought it smelled like the old grass that has been left in the bottom of a lawnmower. The palate starts earthy up front with some sweetness and orange. The rye spice comes more on the back end and is quite nice. I prefer my 4-year Willett more but this one is also very good.

The Collective Favorite

I thought more people would prefer the Willett and although it was indeed the favorite, it squeaked by with 55% of the vote compared to ri(1) with 38%.

Thanks to everyone who came out for this tasting! To join us at future tastings, sign up on our email list at

A Unique Rye: Willett XCF Review

I’ve been on a bit of a Willett Whiskey kick lately. I don’t like to call it an obsession, per se, but I have bought quite a few bottles in the past couple months. I first fell for Willett Rye last year when a good friend gave me a bottle of the 4-year rye. It was one of my favorite ryes from last year and the best one under 4 years old I’ve ever had. So when I had the opportunity to find a bottle of the new Willett XCF Exploratory Cask Finish in Montana (hello no tax), I jumped at the chance.

The Make

Willett (and parent company KBD) have been sourcing bourbon and rye since the early 1980s. This XCF is a rye that was purchased at MGP and aged for seven years at Willett’s warehouses in Bardstown. After the seven years, they finished it an additional 90 days in orange curacao casks sourced from France.

It’s the first whiskey released in a series they call their Exploratory Cask Finish Project. I haven’t heard what the next whiskey will be, but I’m already excited to try it. This is a limited release with only 6,912 bottles being produced. It’s 95% rye and 5% malted barley and 103.4 proof.

The Nose

Heavy on the orange (not surprising based off the orange curacao casks) and a little bit of that typical cocoa and spice found in Willett ryes. A little reminiscent of an orange spice tea, except sweeter.

The Palate

Sweetness from the curacao casks comes through first, and then it almost tastes like an old-fashioned without the sugar, something I’ve read from other reviewers as well. Those traditional Willett rye spices are still there as well as white pepper and a bit of oak, but the orange tames down most of the spice. I actually find the balance to be almost perfect.


I love this whiskey but I have a few thoughts. First, it’s expensive. The retail is around $150 which is a little high in my opinion; however, it seems this is becoming the norm these days with rare and limited whiskeys. I just wish it was a little lower so it was accessible to more people.

Second, Willett did a masterful job creating something new and unique. I think they pulled the whiskey out of the orange curacao casks at just the right time. It’s a good balance of rye and orange and unlike anything I’ve tried before.

Third, I love the label. I know that makes no difference on how the whiskey tastes, but this label and packaging are beautiful.

I’ve tasted quite a few whiskeys finished in previously used casks over the last three years. The Willett XCF and High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram are both excellent whiskeys and only overshadowed by the Parker’s Heritage Cognac Barrel Finished Bourbon from 2011.

There’s still some of these XCF bottles on the shelf in different parts of the country if you’re interested in trying a unique whiskey.

Rating: 92/100

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email, or hit us up on social media. No question is too basic.