Yesterday’s New York Times Food section has a lengthy article about the rise of American brandy production, and it rightly begins with a profile of Joe Heron and Copper & Kings, the brandy distillery he began in Butchertown three years ago.
The story, “American Brandy Is Surging, Even in Whiskey Country,” discusses several American distilleries that are producing brandies made from American grapes, leading off with Heron and his success with Copper & Kings.
The Times story asserts that brandy “has become a quiet giant of the liquor industry.” Citing the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the story says that at 13 million-plus cases sold last year, brandy is outselling gin, Scotch and Irish whiskey, with American brandy accounting for eight million of those cases.
Liquor snobs have in the past rightly favored elegant French brandies like Cognac and Armagnac over the thick, super-sweet American versions produced by Christian Brothers, E&J and Korbel. But the new producers, Copper & Kings among them, are producing brandies that break new grounds for American spirits.
According to the Times story, “There are two clear camps among American brandy distillers: the innovators and the traditionalists.
“Mr. Heron, of Copper & Kings, is an innovator,” the Times writer says, “aiming to reorient the category toward younger, hipper audiences. …He trades barrels with some of the country’s leading craft breweries, like Jack’s Abby in Massachusetts and 3 Floyds Brewing Company in Indiana, for aging, infusing his brandies with malty, hoppy undertones.
“We don’t play by the old rules,” Mr. Heron said. “We’re looking for the finesse of a brandy with the muscle of a whiskey.”