Brown-Forman, the Louisville-based parent of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve premium bourbon, is adding the first new bourbon to its permanent lineup in 20 years.
The company announced Monday the upcoming release of Coopers’ Craft, which will be available this summer in Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee for about $30 for a 750ml bottle.
The name honors the importance of barrel makers, or coopers. Brown-Forman is the only whiskey-maker with its own cooperages.
“Coopers’ Craft is the result of decades of experience in mastering barrel-making and maturation techniquest to create truly unique bourbons,” Lawson Whiting, executive vice president and chief brands and strategy officer for Brown-Forman Brands, said in a statement. “Owning our cooperage is a testament to this expertise and brings to life the notion that what matters most, we do ourselves.”
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The barrel contributes much to Kentucky bourbon, imparting all of the color and at least half of the flavor, according to Brown-Forman master distiller Chris Morris.
Brown-Forman spokeswoman Andrea Duvall said that Coopers’ Craft is made in Louisville, from a slightly different mashbill than Old Forester. Coopers’ Craft has slightly more corn and slightly less rye than Old Forester, giving it a less spicy flavor profile.
Coopers’ Craft also uses a special beech and birch charcoal filter finishing process. After the bourbon has aged four to six years, it is filtered through charcoal made from beech and birch wood, giving it extra smoothness and oakiness, she said.
“It’s a lighter, softer flavor that brings out the oak, with a bit more citrus notes,” Duvall said. “Because of its a lighter flavor profile ... it’s versatile, very mixable, and intended to be really good in cocktails that are easy to make at home.”
The brand had been in the works for about a decade and is meant to fill a different niche in the bourbon market than Brown-Forman’s premium Woodford Reserve, retro Old Forester, or bargain-priced Early Times, she said.
Brown-Forman, like other Kentucky and Tennessee whiskey makers, has been riding a boom in bourbon sales world wide, with sales up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. The growth has lead to a building boom in the state, with many distilleries expanding their capacity for making and storing bourbon and for accommodating the increase in tourists who want to see where whiskey is made.
The last major bourbon introduction for Brown-Forman was Woodford Reserve, which is already undergoing a $36 million expansion. Also, Brown-Forman has a contract to purchase 117 acres in Woodford County with plans to build up to 12 large warehouses there over the next decade, a $22 million investment.
The company also is building a distillery in downtown Louisville to produce Old Forester bourbon, its oldest brand.
Both Woodford Reserve and Old Forester have been on growth spurts: In March, the company reported that Woodford Reserve sales had jumped 29 percent for the quarter and Old Forester sales were up double digits as well.