Lock, Stock & Barrel 20-Year Rye Whiskey

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If you like cocktails, particularly inventive, flavorful cocktails, you likely owe thanks to the Cooper family. Third-generation distiller Robert J. Cooper invented St. Germain — that tall skinny bottle of elderflower liqueur you’ve seen on the shelf behind your favorite bar. And Robert’s dad? He invented Chambord, that squat round raspberry liqueur with the gold belt around its belly.  

When he created St. Germain in 2007, Cooper foresaw the craft cocktail boom and got his concoction into the hands of some influential NYC bartenders. Suddenly, that stuff was everywhere. For his next act, Cooper somehow anticipated our current love affair with perfectly crafted, experty aged whiskey. And not just any whiskey — spicy, flavorful rye whiskey. 

After testing and tasting barrels from Canada’s Alberta Distillers Limited back in ‘08, Cooper bought up a stash of copper pot distilled rye, brought it to the States and aged it in charred American oak. The first release from Lock, Stock & Barrel was a mightily delicious 13-year rye and now the 20-year is ready. Sadly, Robert J. Cooper isn’t here to enjoy it with us. He passed away in 2016.

Chances are, he’d be pretty dang happy with the 20-year expression of his hand-picked spirits. Cold-weather aging keeps the rye from getting overly tannic and over-oaked, resulting in a richly flavored but balanced rye with cloves and cinnamon tempering the peppery rye while melon flavors and honey soften into a velvet finish. Raise a glass to the incredible foresight of Robert J. Cooper. Were he still with us, we can only wonder what delights he’d discover for us, before we ever even knew we wanted them. 

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