532 West IL Route 22, Suite 110, Lake Zurich, IL 60047
In part one, Lisa, Tracy, Sam, and I visited Copper Fiddle Distillery to meet Andrew Macker (Owner/Operator) and Ryan (Bartender). Jim Iverhouse, the other owner, and Rob Scaramella, the scientist behind the art, were out on business. While we toured the facility and learned about all the processes, Andrew led everyone through the history of the Fiddle with a diverse series of tastings. A little Fiddle proved to be not enough. We needed to conduct our own tasting in the bar.
Let’s raise our glasses.
Scroll down to see more photos and read more about Copper Fiddle Distillery.
“The Old Fashioned is VERY tasty! Mine has the Copper Fiddle Bourbon Whiskey. It’s so good. I’m savoring it!”
Frank Sinatra sang, “The Best is Yet to Come.” The lyric, “You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine” perfectly captures the brilliance of Copper Fiddle Distillery and their handcrafted, small batch quality. Rethink your own definitions of flavors. The complexity of flavors at Copper Fiddle Distillery is in direct relationship to their staggering commitment to all their careful sourcing, measurements and processes. All we need to do is appreciate the fruits of their labors in our glasses.
“For aging, we take a financial hit with these barrels because these are more expensive than standard 53-gallon barrels. For us, we’re literally buying time. Surface to mass ratio is our friend in these smaller barrels. The liquid has more opportunity to interact with the char and the wood. The rate is four times greater than larger barrels. Straight bourbons cost so much more because they’re stored in single casks.
Let’s move on to our Rum. When I see rums from a midwest distillery, I get a little nervous. Why would I do that? The easiest way to create alcohol is to take bad sugar, bad yeast, etc., let it ferment, put it in a stove, and call it whatever. Rum. Sugar can be used in the industry to spike a bad yield. It’s the easiest thing to ferment. Whenever I see rum from a midwest distillery, I wonder, ‘Are they buying sugar to make a rum to take out the front door to help spread their yield?’
When Copper Fiddle Distillery started, it only produced gin and whiskey. For a local community that didn’t generally drink a lot of gin and whiskey, when we took over, we needed to diversify. We had to create Rum. And a very good one. Sugar, molasses, and our back set flavor profile. The process from Jamaica and Barbados: water, sugar, yeast, and fermenting in a still—we use our back set. This liquid, with all of our flavor profile in all of our products, is put into our fermenter and combined with sugar and molasses to ferment. It goes once in the still. We’ve created a pretty damn complex and beautiful Rum that only gets better with time.
We do it in two ways: the Silver Rum with one run in the pot still, and the Gold Rum that sees a little time in bourbon wood. There’s nothing artificial added post distillation in any of our products. All of the colors and flavors are from aging.
“There is so much measuring here. We don’t need to go through all our processes, but we choose to do so. This is Copper Fiddle Distillery!”
You can smell banana and clove. It’s a fast and aggressive fermentation. Silver is light, a little dry and very smooth. Now this is Gold. The amber gets aged in the sixth month. We also added something else. Do you see the slats in those big barrels over there? Those are staves. What we do, with all of our aging, is we start in a bourbon barrel, except for the rum, and we finish on toasted oak. We start in a charred barrel and we finish on American white oak that has been toasted. The wood sugars and the tannins give all the flavors that bring on different characteristics. This comes from that piece of barrel. It just didn’t make it to the barrel product.
Who wants to taste something spicy? Let’s do it. This is our Fyren Gin. This is the last thing that we’re going to taste. The Fyren Gin has that base gin recipe you tasted in the beginning, except I hold a serrano pepper by the stem and I char it by hand with a torch. I let that infuse in the bottle. Our Fyren Gin is the only bottled infused gin in the world (that we know of). There are ten hand-cut slits in the sides of each hand-charred serrano pepper in each bottle. This allows for minimal interaction with the seeds for heat instead of just opening up the serrano pepper. That would be a bomb. This has a ton of flavor and a quick hit of heat. Put this in a Bloody Mary—unbelievable! Or just drink it neat. Amazing!
There’s just one last thing. The reason we see a temperature with a proof, not on a label but during production, is that alcohol’s proof is constant at 60 degrees. If we go lower than 60 degrees, the proof rises. When we go above 60 degrees, the proof falls. We’re at a constant 75 degrees in here. So if we were to proof our Bourbon Whiskey over there right now at 75 degrees, it would need to be at 98 proof. We’re really drinking a 92 proof bourbon, but at this temperature it’s 98 proof. Sugar is the opposite. You can see those two measuring devices over there that look like bobbers. One is for sugar and the other is for alcohol. There is so much measuring here. We don’t need to go through all our processes, but we choose to do so. This is Copper Fiddle Distillery!”
After all, of all the tastings, there was a definite fire starter. The level of excitement just ignited. Everyone was roaring about the taste and possibilities of the Copper Fiddle Fyren Gin. I never tasted anything like it. I never imagined anything like it. And then my imagination lit up with recipe ideas. I thought, “The Fyren Gin is the tip of the spear for flavor inspiration! It wakes up my tongue and rests on my palate. The personality has a warm approach and a memorable signature!”
On to the bar, where we chose our new favorites from an eclectic blend of varieties. Lisa decided on the Hemingway with its refreshing tropical charm. She and I would share this drink since I was the designated driver. Tracy chose the Old Fashioned. She also chose to customize it with Copper Fiddle Bourbon Whiskey. The other choice was Rye Whiskey. Sam went for the Mai Tai. This would be her first. You always remember your first.
Lisa marveled at the classic beauty and bright colors of the Hemingway. She took a sip when a big smile came across her face, “I really like this! The Hemingway has a bright citrus fragrance. The taste is not only citrusy but also a little fruity. It’s very light—not overly sweet for a rum cocktail. The presentation is beautiful!” I asked Lisa about her thoughts on the tour, to which she replied, “Touring the Copper Fiddle Distillery is very cool! So much science; it’s amazing! I like the Copper Fiddle Rye Whiskey best, but I’m really blown away by the Copper Fiddle Vodka because I’ve never had a vodka before that I could drink straight. The Copper Fiddle Fyren Gin is also amazing; I want to try it as a Bloody Mary!”
Tracy looked eager to try the Old Fashioned. This wasn’t her first rodeo, but this was her first time busting out the gate at the Fiddle. Tracy tipped her glass and beamed, “The Old Fashioned is VERY tasty! Mine has the Copper Fiddle Bourbon Whiskey. It’s so good. I’m savoring it!” Taking advantage of this excitement, I asked Tracy about her tour impression. She put it this way, “The Copper Fiddle Distillery tour is really neat! The background information about how they got the distillery is very interesting. I like the Copper Fiddle: Bourbon Whiskey, Fyren Gin and Tom Gin best!”
“Copper Fiddle Distillery is a lot of fun! This is my first distillery tour. My favorites are Copper Fiddle: Silver Rum, Fiddle Gin and Vodka. There’s a lot of tasting!”
I wondered what Sam thought of our afternoon, beginning with her Mai Tai and reflecting back to the tour. Sam tried the Mai Tai—her first—and said with a start, “The Mai Tai tastes really GOOD! I’ve never had one before. I like this a lot. It’s actually a little fruity!” About the entire experience, Sam offered, “Copper Fiddle Distillery is a lot of fun! This is my first distillery tour. My favorites are Copper Fiddle: Silver Rum, Fiddle Gin and Vodka. There’s a lot of tasting!”
Seven years went by between the first and second visits of Copper Fiddle Distillery for Lisa and me. We’re not going to let this happen again. There’s just too much good stuff goin’ on, and the best is yet to come. Be a part of the history at Copper Fiddle Distillery. Visit, tour, taste, and sip. Repeat.
Keep it on repeat.
To learn more, or plan your visit or tour of Copper Fiddle Distillery, click Copper Fiddle Distillery
To experience an amazing dynamic presentation of Copper Fiddle Distillery, click on the link to my Adobe Spark photoblog at Adobe Spark – Copper Fiddle Distillery
If you are on Facebook, like my page at Facebook – The Simple Luxuries
To see more photos of Copper Fiddle Distillery, follow my Instagram page at Instagram – The Simple Luxuries
“My camera is my witness. My blog is my voice.” ©2020