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Every Coppersea Rye Whiskey Reviewed [2021]

Mar 21, 2021

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Disclaimer: The whiskey reviewed was furnished for free courtesy of the spirit distiller. The distillery did not pay us for this review. This review is our honest and unbiased opinion based soley on how the spirit tasted.

Coppersea Distilling is committed to sustainable whiskey making, so Coppersea Rye Whiskeys are hand-crafted in New York using Heritage Distilling Methods and according to the Empire Rye Standards. They are a “grain-to-glass” farm distillery managing a 75-acre organic farm in the Hudson Valley. Since 2012, they have been floor malting their own grains, never using industrial enzymes in their mashbills. They are also an open-top fermentation allowing local yeasts and flora to develop and change the flavors.

According to the Empire Rye Whiskey Association,

Only a whiskey made according to the precise standards agreed upon by the Empire Rye Whiskey Association may be called Empire Rye and bear the mark on its bottle.

These standards include:

  • 75% MUST be New York State-grown rye grain, which may be raw, malted, or a combination
  • The remaining 25% of the mash bill may be composed of any raw or malted grain, New York-grown or otherwise, or any combination thereof.
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof
  • Aged for a minimum of two years in charred, new oak barrels at not more than 115 proof at the time of entry.
  • Must be mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, and aged at a single New York State distillery
  • A blended whisky containing no less than 100% qualifying Empire Rye whiskies from multiple distilleries may be called Blended Empire Rye.

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Coppersea Excelsior Straight Rye Review

Coppersea Excelsior Straight Rye Review

Coppersea Excelsior Straight Rye
Excelsior Straight RyeDetails
Off the StillNo More Than 160 Proof
Barrel Entry105 Proof
In the Bottle96 Proof
ABV48%
Mashbill80% Raw NY Rye and 20% Floor Malted Barley
InfoEmpire Rye
AgeAt Least 2YO
BarrelsKelvin Cooperage
NY Oak
30-Gallon
Fermentation5 to 6 days
Wild Fermentation
145 Degrees
Fair Price$69.99
CompanyCoppersea Distilling
239 Springtown Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
ProsConsistently Good Drinking Experience
ConsMore of Everything to Make It Even Greater
RatingSilver 89.8 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy It
Buy It OnlineSeelbach's

Excelsior is New York’s motto, and it means “Ever Upwards.” Coppersea Excelsior Straight Rye is made from heirloom varietals of rye, corn, and barley using a “true fire copper” direct-fired stills for improved mouthfeel and balance. Also, I am 100% convinced that a low barrel entry improves the flavor of whiskey because of less dilution among other things. This technique seems to drastically improve the flavors of younger whiskeys. Coppersea enters the barrel at 105 proof.

Nose – 90 out of 100 Points

The first aroma that comes to mind — a floral cotton candy. Followed by toasted rye bread with apple butter. Last, I’m picking up a savory, woodsy note. This rye whiskey would pair perfectly with a Southern Draw Cedrus cigar.

Taste – 90 out of 100 Points

Coppersea’s Excelsior Rye Whiskey has a solid mouthfeel and reminds me of hiking outdoors on a gorgeous spring day. Floral, notes abound along with tree sap and freshly cut wood. Rye spice pops in mid-palate and works its way forward. I also pick up some savory, baking spice dark chocolate and a smoky campfire.

Finish – 89 out of 100 Points

The finish is medium with more woodsy with smoky notes, some charred rye grain,

Complexity – 91 out of 100 Points

This rye whiskey has complexity and depth in spades and it’s mostly savory in nature. This is a whiskey you bring with you camping and drinking around the campfire.

Value – 90 out of 100 Points

A mash bill of 80% unmalted rye and 20% floor malted barley, both grown on a certified organic farm in upstate New York plus all the craftsmanship we discussed in the introduction. A lot of work goes into crafting Excelsior Straight Rye. The extra steps Coppersea takes highlight their commitment to excellence and good whiskey — well worth the price.

Verdict – Silver 90 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whisky Review

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whisky Review

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whisky
Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt WhiskyDetails
Off the StillNo More Than 160 Proof
Barrel Entry105 Proof
In the Bottle96 Proof
ABV48%
Mashbill100% Hudson Valley Floor Malted Rye Mashbill
StandardsEmpire Rye
AgeAt Least 2YO
BarrelsKelvin Cooperage
NY Oak
30-Gallon
Fermentation5 to 6 days
Wild Fermentation
145 Degrees
Fair Price$89.99
CompanyCoppersea Distilling
239 Springtown Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing Soon
RatingComing Soon
InventoryBuy It
Buy It OnlineCaskers

Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whisky is 100% floor-malted rye whiskey in their own “malt house in the traditional manner, hand-raking daily to ensure proper aeration in the sprouting grain and then lightly kiln-toasting to dry and preserve.” It is named for “the rocky prominence overlooking our farm at the northern end of the Shawangunk Ridge.” It’s entry proof is 105, and it’s bottled at 96 proof. Tasting notes shared from Coppersea.

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Bottled-in-Bond Rye Malt Whisky Review

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Bottled-in-Bond Rye Malt Whisky Review

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Bottled-in-Bond Rye Malt Whisky
Bonticou Crag Bottled-in-Bond Rye Malt WhiskyDetails
Off the StillNo More Than 160 Proof
Barrel Entry105 Proof
In the Bottle100 Proof
ABV50%
Mashbill100% Hudson Valley Floor Malted Rye Mashbill
StandardsEmpire Rye
Age4YO
BarrelsKelvin Cooperage
NY Oak
30-Gallon
Fermentation5 to 6 days
Wild Fermentation
145 Degrees
Fair Price$124.99
CompanyCoppersea Distilling
239 Springtown Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing Soon
RatingComing Soon
InventoryBuy It
Buy It OnlineSeelbach's

Coppersea Bonticou Crag Bottled-in-Bond Rye Malt Whisky follows all the same hand-crafted procedures from the Coppersea Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whisky above with the addition of Bottled in Bond standards. Therefore, the bottle proof is 100. “Our low-barrel proof of 105 really shines in the Bottled-in-Bond expression, which is bottled at almost barrel strength and receives only a dash of water to bottle proof.”  Tasting notes shared from Coppersea.

Start shopping for bourbon clothing and accessories for your journey. The Bard’s Shop has custom tees and hoodies, books, barrels, and more.

About Matty Sims

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, Thrive Global and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys. He has also created single barrel stickers for Bourbon Pursuit and Total Wine.
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