Cooper King Distillery Tasting

It’s hard to believe that it has already been half a year since Mike graced Cooper King with his presence and shared his experience about the passionate group behind the distillery. The buzz surrounding their work was palpable, and they have since unveiled a unique ‘Maturing Malt’ selection pack that highlights their malt at various stages of maturation. This delightful offering immediately captured my attention, particularly after hearing Mike’s glowing review and being unable to try any of their spirit destined to be whisky.

The beautifully presented box houses a trio of spirits. The first is a ‘Maturing Malt’, aged for 29-months and boasting a strength of 58.8% abv. The second, another ‘Maturing Malt’, has matured for a shorter duration of 15-months but packs an equally impressive 59.7% abv. Last but not least, the New-Make Malt Spirit, bottled at a hearty 60.0% abv, completes this compelling set. A visit to their website shows all other information, from yeast type to fermentation times: nothing is left to the imagination.

Placed side by side, these spirits should deliver a little something different and be an equally interesting tasting experience. After nearly three years of maturation, it will be intriguing to observe how the notes have developed in each. That said, the 15-month and 29-month have matured in different casks, but ultimately with the same mash bill. We’ve recently explored at length on the Water of Life the profound impact that new make spirit can have on the final product, even before it undergoes aging. Killowen’s Bulcàn is a stunning illustration of how mash bills can influence flavours and depth, while Jonathon delved into the intricacies of whiskey flavour origins in his review of the Gold Spot. All of this to say that this collection of spirits is an exciting and intriguing tasting opportunity, one that will undoubtedly whet everyone’s appetite for Cooper King’s inaugural whisky release.

Mike expressed his regret for not having the opportunity to sample their whisky during his previous visit, but there’s hopefully no need to wait much longer. According to their recent Instagram post, they have already started tasting samples in preparation for the highly anticipated inaugural launch this October. Staying true to their distinctive style and methods, the whisky is being matured in 100-litre casks, reminiscent of the traditional techniques used in Tasmania, where their story originated.

Price: £42 available direct from the Cooper King website, but currently sold out.

New Make Malt Spirit

ABV: 60%

Nose: the rhubarb custard notes are an absolute delight, ushering in a medley of fruits that explode with flavours of stewed apples, pears, and juicy peaches, with a surprising addition of kiwi adding a tangy dimension to the profile. Think of it as a whiff of flat Fanta exotic, paired with the zesty punch of cherry Tangfastics.

Palate: the palate is equally mesmerizing, with its luxurious and oily texture completely enveloping the mouth. The exotic fruits take centre stage once again, but this time, they come with a kick of dry spice, reminiscent of black peppercorns and a touch of cinnamon. There’s even a faint hint of aniseed in the mix, adding a layer of complexity to the flavour profile.

Finish: the heat ramps up, with more of the spice taking centre stage, but this time, it’s more prickly ginger that dominates the scene. Sadly, the fruit notes fade away, leaving only the spicy kick behind. Nonetheless, the finish is fairly satisfying, rounding off with a delightful, warm heat.

15 Months Maturing Malt Spirit

Cask: ex-bourbon corn whiskey (1st fill bourbon, 2nd fill corn whiskey), 100 litres, American oak, char #4

ABV: 59.7%

Nose: the spirit has developed a little and has almost subdued the exotic fruits ever so slightly, resulting in a mellower profile that boasts a vibrant, zesty citrus note. Hints of lemon and lime add some freshness and complexity, while the ever-present rhubarb custard note remains throughout. The flavours of rum and raisin ice cream blend with the sweet, sticky allure of raisin flapjacks, providing a rich and indulgent note.

Palate: there is undeniable undeniably an element of maturation which showcases a beautiful blend of flavours. Deliciously caramelized tropical pineapple takes centre stage, accompanied by an enticing blend of warming spices. While black peppercorns remain a prominent feature, the addition of cinnamon and clove adds a delightful depth and complexity to the overall taste. The mouthfeel is luxuriously creamy, imparting a sense of indulgence that lingers on the palate.

Finish: the finish takes a creamy turn, with hints of indulgent chilli chocolate and a subtle peppery kick. As the flavours develop, the addition of fiery ginger snaps adds an emerging heat that builds with each sip. The finish culminates in a delightful note of roasted coffee beans, leaving a lingering and satisfying aftertaste.

29 Months Maturing Malt Spirit

Cask: New Era Oak Cask (NEOC), ex-red wine (Bordeaux, France), 110 litres, French oak, strong toast

ABV: 58.8%

Nose: The development of the nose has been strikingly clear, revealing a host of aromas. The fruit notes have undergone a notable shift, with orchard-fresh green apples and subtle hints of zesty lime balancing the ever-present rhubarb aroma. The addition of cranberries and raspberries adds a delicate yet distinct berry character, while an intriguing grape-like essence develops also. There’s also a distinct fizzy bubble-gum bottle sweet which adds an interesting twist.

Palate:  The palate really comes alive with a delectable array of fruit flavours, with hints of juicy strawberries and rich, velvety cream, coupled with luscious raspberries that add a delightful sweetness. As the flavours develop, the spices emerge in a beautifully balanced and subtle manner, providing a gentle warmth that elevates the overall profile. The harshness that once existed has all but disappeared, replaced with a pleasingly delicate touch of cinnamon lozenges and fragrant cloves.

Finish: Almost cake-like in taste, reminiscent of a freshly baked blueberry muffin. As the flavours evolve, the spices take on a bolder and more assertive character, with a generous amount of warming cinnamon and clove notes that add a final layer of depth and complexity to the finish.


I have refrained from scoring the spirits as I believe it would be unjust to do so while they are still maturing. Over the past 29 months, they have evidently undergone significant development, and it would not be fair to judge them prematurely. However, I must note that the spirits possess a real quality. Each one boasts an impressive range and depth of notes, exhibiting the unique characteristics of their respective maturation processes. Despite being aged in different casks, the 15-month and 29-month spirits share a common DNA, which has contributed to their success in maturation.

Although I am not a whisky expert, I have had the pleasure of tasting a plethora of whiskies from new distilleries. From my experience, it’s crucial for distillers not to rush the bottling process. The spirits I tasted exhibited a vast range of flavours; however, their youthfulness was noticeable. It’s clear that more time in the cask would greatly benefit the spirits. However, I trust that the real experts at Cooper King know what they’re doing. One last thing: I implore you not to bottle these spirits at anything less than 46% – the market is already saturated with spirits below that ABV. Keeping it at 46% or higher will set it apart from the competition and allow the spirit to really stand up against the rest. However, it does look like at least one will be single cask release, and likely be even higher.

Lastly, I’d like to touch on the topic of English whisky. Over the past few months, it has become a popular staple on the Water of Life. It’s evident that the industry is booming, but it’s not oversaturated with distilleries that are merely doing the bare minimum. Instead, there is a strong focus on quality, innovation, and pushing boundaries. Cooper King is undoubtedly one of the distilleries that will help to promote English whisky even further. Their dedication to craftsmanship, honesty & adventure is apparent, and I have no doubt that when they decide to bottle and sell their own whisky, it will be a testament to the excellence of English whisky.

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