The folks at The Cooper Spirits Co. are experts at sourcing whiskey. The company selects its juice from choice barrels filled by Alberta Distillers Ltd. in the great expanse of our colder neighbor to the north. Some of this whiskey now composes the new Lock Stock and Barrel 18 ($230), an unmistakable choice for those who really, truly love rye whiskey. After all, the mash bill is 100 percent rye—even some of the boldest rye releases reach only 95 percent.
The whiskey is 109 proof but goes down smoother than expected. It’s intense and fruity with a hint of bitterness, and it bursts with baking spices, black pepper, cantaloupe, ginger, and old leather flavors. What do you do with such a vivid rye whiskey? Sure, go ahead and make a Sazerac or Manhattan—but at this price, you might want to just enjoy Lock Stock and Barrel 18 on its own.
Previous Lock Stock and Barrel releases include a 13-year-old and 16-year-old. These were welcome additions to the whiskey world from Robert J. Cooper, who sadly passed away in 2016. He founded The Cooper Spirits Co. in 2006, which gained standing in the cocktail world with the introduction of St-Germain elderflower liqueur. But these whiskey releases, along with Hochstadter’s Vatted Straight Rye and Family Reserve, have helped to expand the popularity of rye.
This potent whiskey might not be for newcomers to brown spirits, but it will please those looking for an experience that highlights the intensity of the grain from which the liquid is made. Lock Stock and Barrel 18, with its all-rye, all-the-time flavor profile, does just that.