Under the guidance of founder Joe Heron, Copper & Kings wants to make American brandy great again.
When people think of historical American spirits, they immediately think of bourbon, not realizing that brandy actually preceded bourbon. The first recorded American brandy is believed to have been distilled in 1640; it was most likely apple brandy. This is more than a century before bourbon’s introduction.
During the Colonial Era in America, East Coast farmers would distill whatever fruit they had on hand to make brandy. On the West Coast, Spanish monks had a long-standing tradition of wine and brandy making, using grapes that grew in abundance throughout California. Even more intriguing and less known is that brandy gave birth to bourbon. Neophyte whiskey distillers aged their spirit in order to make it taste more like brandy. Thus, the saying “Brandy is bourbon’s older, beautiful cousin” was born.
For Heron, it was essential in making his brandy that it embraced its American roots on every level. Along with his commitment to give back to the community and his choice of location in Louisville, Kentucky – the Heart of Bourbon Country – Heron has created a unique synergy between distillation and music. Indeed, the company’s love of music touches all parts of the brand.
The name “Copper & Kings” evokes the sound of a band’s name, such as Kings of Leon, Band of Horses, or Iron & Wine. The company’s three stills-Isis, Magdalena, and Sara-are named after women in Bob Dylan songs from the album Desire. And instead of the brewery tin tackers commonly used in bars, the company screen prints vinyl records with their logo.
This dovetailing of crafts-music and distillation-imbues the brand with a sense of personalization and authenticity. The company even holds an event called MIXT&PE, where two bartenders battle against one another to pair cocktails with songs from two chosen albums. Likewise, mixtape lists are posted regularly on the site.
“The music is played through Spotify. We have numerous playlists that you can follow on Copper & Kings-musicians’ birthdays, seasonal selections, iPod wars, just selections made by us, birthday playlists for our staff.”
– Joe Heron
And, perhaps most importantly, music is played in the barrel room 24/7 to create a sonic aging process to agitate the brandy and enhance maturation.
Does music really matter that much? Absolutely. In fact, Copper & Kings wouldn’t be what it is without that lyricism. “Brandy is an incredibly romantic spirit,” says Heron. “The most romantic of spirits. It calls out for valor, it calls out for intimacy. People fall in love with and to brandy. And there is always music in the surround sound of romance, isn’t there?”
Given the omnipresent nature of music in the distillery and its products, one can hardly argue with the Copper & Kings slogan: “Brandy Rocks!”