Named for the sea of copper stills that dotted New York’s Hudson Valley throughout the 19th century — before Prohibition, the region was a bonafide hub for whiskey distilling — Coppersea Distillery strives to produce spirits in a manner reminiscent of those 19th century New York farmstead distilleries. “We want what we’re doing to be incredibly primitive,” explains Angus MacDonald, owner and master distiller at Coppersea.
At Coppersea Distillery, which is situated near Holy Cross Monastery on a bluff above the Hudson River, “heritage distilling” includes a green malting process which has been little used in the past 300 years. While most distilleries purchase their grain already malted and dried, Coppersea floor malts its grain — all of which is sourced locally — at the distillery and is one of only a handful of distilleries to still use this technique.
This special process allows the grain to sprout over the course of five days, converting starch into precious sugars and enzymes which are needed to feed the yeast that’s added during fermentation. While risky — the grain can mold if left moist for too long — the payoff is big, producing a uniquely aromatic spirit full of fresh, hearty flavor. Coppersea is one of the rare distilleries in the world that malts its grain in-house.
Coppersea whiskies are double distilled using a fire copper technique, directly firing their still to create flavors that would otherwise be left out in a steam-jacketed distillation. Direct firing allows the mash to caramelize as it cooks, giving Coppersea spirits an enhanced flavor profile that lends itself to a rich mouthfeel and depth of complexity and flavor.
Excelsior Bourbon touts itself as the first 100% New York Bourbon. This New York dram is crafted from pure Hudson Valley grains, and aged in New York-harvested American white oak barrels. Being aged in New York oak, makes this spirit unique, as it may quite possibly be the only bourbon since Prohibition to carry this distinction. Coppersea worked with US barrel to develop the first tight barrel cooperage in the Northeast in generations
The bourbon -which is named after the state motto Excelsior, meaning “Ever Upward”- is made from 100 percent Hudson Valley corn, rye, and barley. A New York trifecta, this bourbon embodies an authentic New York terroir.