You can find almost any food or drink you want, crafted right here in the Austin area. As far as adult beverages go, we have locally-made beers, vodkas, gins and wines. But until recently, we didn’t have a distillery dedicated exclusively to producing a proud Texas rye whiskey.
Kooper Family Whiskey Co. is changing that.
For the first time ever, Austinites can enjoy a locally-aged rye whiskey for their shooting, slurping, sipping and cocktailing pleasure. This 100% rye combines the two essential ingredients you need to stand out in a market crowded with great spirit selections: a great story, backed by a great product.
Kooper Family Is Austin’s First Rye Whiskey
Kooper Family Whiskey Co. is the result of a husband and wife duo who love rye whiskey and had a dream to create something original that Austinites could love. “We live in Austin, we play in Austin and we work in Austin,” the Koopers shared with me. The couple insisted the only way their whiskey could have hit the market is if they lived in Austin. “Only in Austin,” said Michelle Kooper, as she poured me another sip of golden goodness.
Austin is a city built around great ideas. We love high-quality and locally-produced products. The Koopers are an example of how our culture built the product, and not the other way around.
So many artisans, musicians and techies come to Austin chasing their dreams, and we love them for that. But the Koopers were just a normal Austin couple who loved whiskey, infected by the uniquely Austin idea that if something can be made, it should be. Recognizing that there really wasn’t much rye whiskey on the market, they decided to run with their idea to create something delicious.
And we should all thank them for it.
Rye or Die
“We want to be known as the rye whiskey in Texas,” said Troy Kooper as he explained how there are few 100% rye whiskeys available. I asked the duo whether they’d ever consider breaking into the bourbon scene, and they both responded by stating their company motto: rye or die.
Kooper Family Rye has a unique kick to it. I’m a whiskey drinker, but I’d only ever had a true 100% rye whiskey in a cocktail, like an old fashioned. The Kooper whiskey is unique because it can actually be more complex than a whiskey blend, like a bourbon.
This rye starts with a fruity scent and finishes with a gentle, but familiar, honeyed alcohol taste. It lacks the huge alcohol kick you might expect from a whiskey blend, but that’s all the more reason to enjoy this as a sipping whiskey.
This is the only whiskey the Koopers make, which shows their business isn’t aimed at making money first. Instead, the Koopers focus all of their creative energy into this beautiful bottle of Texas gold.
Kooper Family Rye is the perfect spirit for the holidays. What sets it apart from other whiskeys is the delicious spice flavor to it. You might as well throw a wick in it and light it on fire because you’ll have the whole house smelling like evergreen and nutmeg.
Local Whiskey for Anyone
Kooper Family Rye is for anyone. One look at the branding will tell you that it’s strong and intelligent enough for any aficionado. Yet its approachable taste also makes it perfect for those wanting to try out a delicious whiskey cocktail, like this savory Palomino Sour the Koopers recommend:
- 1 1/2 oz. Kooper Family Rye (author’s note: two ounces goes down nicely, too)
- 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. maple syrup
- 1 very fresh egg white
- 2-3 dashes of angostura bitters
Mix Kooper Family Rye, maple syrup, lemon juice and egg white into a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) for 20 seconds to emulsify egg. Add ice and shake hard for 10 seconds, until chilled. Strain into rocks glass. Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters, garnish with lemon twist and serve immediately.
Where to Find Kooper Family Rye
If you want to get your hands on the first ever, extremely small batch of Kooper Family Rye, you better hurry. One of Austin’s favorite local spirits shop is J & J Spirits, where I bought my first bottle. As I checked out, the shopkeeper told me the bottles were flying off the shelves.
The Koopers barrel-age their whiskey for two years before release, so you better get it before it goes. There will never be another first batch.
You can find it at Twin Liquors and Specs, in addition to J&J Spirits. Before long, you won’t have to go to a spirits store to pick up your own bottle. The Koopers hope to have a tasting room available in spring 2016. Keep up with their latest on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or their beautifully-designed website.
@ATXtherapist wants to know:
Have you tried Austin’s first and only 100% locally-made rye whiskey yet?