INTERVIEW: If the Spirits are Chilling – Ron Jasin of Copper & Kings on Blue Sky Mining!

If you haven’t been to Copper & Kings, you don’t know what you’re missing. Not only do they have an amazing campus, artfully designed and laid out, inviting to the eye, but they produce a superlative product. I mean, who can go wrong with Brandy? The answer here is definitively not Copper & Kings, who are increasingly recognized for their innovation. We talked to C&K creative director Ron Jasin, a name that some of our readers may recognize from his time working with Initial Records, about Blue Sky Mining, they’re newest release coming out tomorrow, a limited edition 7-year-old pure muscat American brandy aged 30 months in a Kentucky Hogshead barrel. You can pick some up tomorrow at the distillery, where you can also catch the music of Exacta Cube and aerial bartenders courtesy of the folks at Suspend Louisville. We caught up with Jasin to ask him about their spirits,

Never Nervous: Tell us a little about Copper & Kings. When did it start? What’s the origin story?

Ron Jasin: Copper & Kings is the brainchild of our owners Joe & Lesley Heron. They are no strangers to the beverage world with this being their 3rd beverage company. They started with a nutritional soda when energy drinks were all they rage. They went on to start Crispin Hard Cider, introducing crisp, refreshing hard ciders when sweet hard ciders were what everyone was drinking, and then they started Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. when everyone is drinking bourbon. So they are either two of the best people at guessing what the next trend in beverages will be, or they are gluttons for punishment and always choosing an uphill battle.

Copper & Kings chose to distill Brandy because it is a wonderful spirit, with a long history of being an important part of American distilling that has been greatly ignored for a long time.

NN: For those not in the know (raises hand), how would you describe brandy in comparison to other spirits? What sets it apart from something in the whisky family?

RJ: Brandy is any spirit that has been distilled from fruit instead of grains, so the easiest way to look at is Bourbon is a distilled beer and Brandy is a distilled wine.

“Brandy is any spirit that has been distilled from fruit instead of grains, so the easiest way to look at is Bourbon is a distilled beer and Brandy is a distilled wine.”

With us being a fruit based product we spend a lot of time and effort trying to maintain the integrity and flavor complexity that the fruit provides. That includes the type of stills we use, which we had custom designed for Brandy distillation. We use a slow and low approach to our distillation. We only distill twice, again to maintain the integrity of the fruit, we don’t chill filter our spirit, which is common in a lot of distillation processes, this freezes out oils and essences found in a distillate and filters them out. We don’t do that, we think that’s the good stuff, where all the flavor comes from. We also don’t use any additional sweeteners, flavorings or colors.

We then take that spirit and age it in a combination of once used Bourbon and New American Oak Barrels. This provides us with a rambunctious quality you don’t find in most Brandy.

All that care provides a spirit that is naturally smooth with a little bit of sweetness that compares nicely to a fine Bourbon or Scotch.

NN: Is it just Brandy that you distill? Are there regulations on other things that may restrict you all from going wild?

RJ: We do distill mainly Brandy, but we are not limited by any regulations as to what we can distill. We make Aged and Un-Aged Brandy and Apple Brandy. As well as Absinthe and we’ll be rolling out some Gin in the near future. But all of those spirits are fruit based so we play to our strengths.

NN: What can you tell us about the Blue Sky Mining Brandy? What is the concept here?

RJ: Blue Sky Mining is our first limited Brandy release, we’ve done Gin, Absinthe and Apple Brandy Limited releases in the past but this is our first Brandy. It is a 7-year-old Pure Muscat Brandy that has been aged 30 months in a Kentucky Hogshead barrel. A Hogshead barrel is a unique barrel made from the reclaimed staves of a Bourbon Barrel with New American Oak Heads. They are a little larger than your average barrel and that provides a nice smoothness to the finished product.

  • Here are some tasting notes and more details:
  • Copper & Kings 3 Blue Sky Mining Pure Muscat Brandy (100 proof/50% ABV)
  • $40 per 375mL bottle
  • Appearance: Dark fall honey.
  • Aroma: Luscious tropical notes – melon, hibiscus. Quite bright with hints of roses.
  • Taste: Nice Muscat fresh grape juice, with a touch of ripe, bruised peach. Lightly spicy and lively.
  • Finish: Gorgeous creamy mouthfeel, silky with a lingering faint sweetness.

NN: How did you all come to collaborate with AngryBlue? What about his style speaks to Copper & Kings?

RJ: We are big fans of Angryblue at the distillery we really love what he does and have been looking for a reason to collaborate with him and the Blue Sky Mining Project was the perfect opportunity. His work is so magical and detailed that you can really get lost in it. So we called, emailed and begged him until he agreed to work with us. We couldn’t be happier with the results. We work with local artists on all our Limited Releases so it’s a really special part of that process; it really gives the releases a very unique visual identity.

NN: Relative to that, what types of collaborations has Copper & Kings participated in? Has there been any crossover with any of the other local distilleries or breweries? Goodwood seems like a logical fit.

RJ: Collaboration is essential to us at Copper & Kings. We’ve gotten the opportunity to work with a ton of really talented Distilleries, Breweries, Wineries and artists. We have a line of Brandy called Craftw&rk that is American Brandy that has been aged in American Craft Beer Barrels. Just to name a few, we’ve worked with Against The Grain, 3 Floyds, and Sierra Nevada on that line. It’s amazing to see how the Brandy takes on the characteristics of the beer to provide a really unique experience. We age in used Bourbon barrels so we have some great partners that really help shape what we do.

And as I mentioned we work with local artists on our Limited Releases. We’ve worked with Damon Thompson, Douglas Miller and Angryblue so far. With many more to come

NN: What is the distilling community like? Is it competitive or friendly?

RJ: It’s wonderful, as you can imagine there is no shortage of people looking for a good drink, so I really feel like there’s no need to be competitive and the Kentucky Distilling community has been really warm and welcoming to us. We feel very fortunate to be a part of it.

“There is no shortage of people looking for a good drink, so I really feel like there’s no need to be competitive and the Kentucky Distilling community has been really warm and welcoming to us. We feel very fortunate to be a part of it.”

NN: It seems like the Copper & Kings distillery in Butchertown has taken on an event space quality. What type of events do you all host there? What do you enjoy the most?

RJ: It sure has, we have such a beautiful facility and we really enjoy sharing it with people. The space is available for people to rent out for their own events and as you noted we host a lot of our. The Limited Release events are a lot of fun, we get to introduce a new spirit to the public and have a good time doing it, we always like to incorporate a live music element to those events and that really makes them special.

The release of Blue Sky Mining is going to feature a live performance from Exacta Cube. During their performance we are also going to have Aerial Artists from our neighbors at Suspend dancing while being suspended from the ceiling. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

NN: Do you all feature music often?

RJ: We do. We Sonic Age our Brandy which means we play music to them 24/7 on a system we had custom designed for that purpose. We have 5 large subwoofers in our maturation room that blast music around the clock. The sound waves provided a gentle ripple to the spirit in the barrels that keeps the Brandy constantly moving for maximum wood contact while aging.

“We Sonic Age our Brandy which means we play music to them 24/7 on a system we had custom designed for that purpose.”

Music is an essential part of our process; everyone who works here is really passionate about what they listen to.

NN: Can you pair any of your beverages for us? What food goes well with your spirits?

RJ: I like a nice glass of Butchertown Brandy on the rocks with a good steak. You’ll also find me elongating it with some Soda Water or a Ginger Beer and pairing that with wonderful piece of fish or nice big hearty salad. Brandy is a promiscuous spirit it really goes well with just abut anything.

NN: For that matter, do you have any good mix drink suggestions?

RJ: I prefer the classics; A Brandy Old Fashioned, A Sidecar, An Ampersand. Brandy really stands up well in a cocktail. It makes a wonderful sour. I could go on and on… Also give it a go on ice you really can’t go wrong, whatever your drink of choice is, try it with Brandy I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

NN: What music do you all blast the most often in the distillery?

RJ: Since play music all day long to the barrels it really is an eclectic mix. But I think the barrels really like Old School Hip-Hop and loud, dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll.

We had the staff chime in and tell us what they thought each of our spirits would sound like if they were a song, It was a really great exercise that provided some interesting results. It really helps illustrate what Brandy means to us. We have that playlist going quite often around here. Check it out for yourself.