The brandy distillery has four separate elements; the basement maturation cellar, the first floor distillery/production area, a second floor art gallery and office space and a third floor tasting room and event space with views to the West of downtown Louisville.
The distillery building itself is fronted by an expansive courtyard for community events as well as repurposed shipping containers containing the Gift Shop and tour/event amenities.
The front shipping containers are surrounded by a 4,300 sqf dedicated butterfly garden with select flora and habitat to attract and sustain monarch butterflies and other pollinators. The garden is certified by MonarchWatch.org as a registered Monarch Waystation.
The company used over 40 local and regional vendors in the construction of the facility, and it is regularly used to support local charities and community arts.
The company focuses exclusively on the copper pot-distillation of American brandy and absinthe. Three Vendome Copper & Brassworks stills are used in the distillation process and go by the names of Sarah (50 gal.), Magdalena (750 gal.) and Isis (1000 gal.)—all female protagonists in Bob Dylan songs (Sarah, Romance in Durango and Isis). The company follows an alembic double-distillation batch process of grape wine using the grape varietals of Muscat D’Alexandrie, (French) Colombard and Chenin Blanc. The company distills an annual Kentucky vintage brandy using the Vidal Blanc grape varietal.
Apple brandy is also pot-distilled in Kentucky using Michigan apple wine from fermented fresh-pressed raw apple juice. All wines are distilled unfiltered and unsulfited. Apple brandies are matured in a combination of Kentucky bourbon barrels and Spanish sherry casks. Finished products are non-chill filtered, and contain no boisé (oak flavors or infusion), sugar or caramel color as a standard of quality.
The distillery makes four styles of absinthe using a brandy base. The absinthe botanicals (grande wormwood, fennel, anis, licorice root and hyssop together with other botanicals) are macerated in the brandy low wine for 12 hours pre-distillation and then go through a second final distillation. The distillery allows for no post-distillation infusion of flavor or color to the final spirit. The absinthe is non-chill filtered.
Absinthe Blanche uses a Muscat brandy base. The distillery also produces three vapor distilled absinthes – lavender, citrus and fresh cut ginger where the additional flavor notes are achieved using vapor distillation of botanicals in a fashion similar to that of gin distillation. The vapor distilled absinthes use a (French) Colombard brandy base.
Copper & Kings has produced two apple brandy-based, barrel-aged gins. Stray Cat Gin was aged for 12 months in a Serbian juniper barrel with an Old Tom style profile. Alley Cat Gin was aged in a Kentucky bourbon barrel for 22 months. Both gins are non-chill filtered and unadulterated by any post distillation infusion of flavor or color.
Copper & Kings has produced five brandies aged for a minimum of 12 months in craft beer barrels. The spirit proof entering the barrel is a full bodied +/- 130 proof to maximize flavor extraction. Bottle proof at 111 proof is chosen to maximize the craft beer flavor profiles by minimizing dilution with just a touch of water to enable the flavors to authentically bloom and soften the heat just a touch. The craft beer barrels have deeply influenced the aroma and taste of the brandy with their unique profiles and personalities. Varietals include 3 Floyds “Dark Lord” Russian Imperial Stout, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Smoked Imperial Porter and Cherry Chocolate Stout, Oskar Blues Brewery “G’Knight” and “Deviant Dale’s” Imperial IPA, and Against The Grain Brewery “Mac Fanny Baw” Peated Scottish Ale.
Grape brandy is matured in once used Kentucky bourbon barrels with +/-10% new American oak. Apple brandy is matured in once used Kentucky bourbon barrels with +/-10% Spanish sherry casks and butts.
The cellar also contains a variety of different brandies aging in used tequila barrels, Kentucky hogsheads, Serbian juniper barrels and used Cognac barrels. The distillery is also maturing brandy in oak barrels that were previously used to age craft beer – the partner breweries include Three Floyds (Indiana), Against The Grain (Kentucky), Sierra Nevada (California) and Oskar Blues (North Carolina).
The maturation process also includes “sonic aging” where music is played to the barrels, and five large sub-woofer speakers vibrate the distillate inside the barrel in a fashion so as to increase spirit contact with wood inside the barrels thus enhancing maturation.
Shipping containers used as a retail shop and visitors center outside of Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery
As an agricultural product the company is focused on environmental protection including the aforementioned monarch butterfly garden, the use of solar energy, the repurposing of shipping containers, the promotion of cycling in Louisville, and the salvaging of wood from the distillery construction for furniture used in the building.