Lock Stock & Barrel (LS&B), a brand of straight rye whiskey, is produced by Cooper Spirit Co., a company founded in 2006, whose greatest claim to fame is the creation of St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (a brand sold off in 2013 to Bacardi). Cooper Spirits originally released the 13 year LS&B in 2013. A subsequent 16 year and 18 year bottling have now been released from the same distillate.
Some have not been a fan of LS&B’s marketing. First, Cooper Spirits didn’t distill any of this product – something that is not mentioned anywhere in the packaging. However, when faced with that question, Cooper Spirits seems to welcome this acknowledgment, stating that they stumbled upon a “grand discovery of old rye whiskey stocks in the Great White North.” (Please note we are OVER the Orphan Barrel-like “discovery” story). Marketing ploys aside, LS&B is from Canada’s Alberta Premium distillery – despite the large “American Oak” print on the label.
So what do we know about LS&B? It is a 100 percent rye grain mash bill. It is aged in new American charred Oak. And it is warehoused in a cold climate. The company website touts: “A ‘robust cut’ is selected by master distillers, then the unfiltered spirit is aged in new charred American Oak barrels in cold weather. The result is a deeply intense, yet harmonious straight rye, with rich and unified tasting notes.”
Recently, with the news of the 18 year release, member Jay Cary (who also has a 16 year, which we may review soon) decided to crack open his bottle to help determine whether he would drop several hundred dollars (American dollars, we might add) on another bottle. We would discover, at least with our palates, that this rye is “boldly” defined by its cold climate – meaning there is nothing bold to it at all!
Lock Stock & Barrel 13 Year Rye (101.3 Proof) (13 Year)
Nose: Subtle. Initial gunpowder when approaching the glass (not kidding – although we did agree that that was probably mind games, and in reality it is probably just burnt sugar notes and some wet char); fruit gum sweetness combined with grape juice; browned butter; very faint butterscotch syrup; mushroom/tobacco/earthiness; only a light hint of rye mint. Nothing displeasing, but nothing “wowing.” (3.5/5)
Palate: Just the tiniest hint of old wood and leather; more fruity chewing gum flavors; rye pepper and baking spice; herbal/mint; caramel syrup. Disappointing richness for 101.3 proof. (2.5/5)
Finish: Short, almost magically disappearing. Welch’s grape juice; mint; slightly tannic (drying). (1.5/5)
Overall: This was disappointing. When tasting we went in with expectations of a bold/flavorful 13 year, higher proof rye (think Kentucky Owl Rye, Whistle Pig or even some of the High West blended ryes). What we ended up with is something more in the nature of older Crown Royal. We believe the cold climate aging left no real indication of age or oak on this Lock Stock & Barrel 13 Year. This just frankly wasn’t interesting. (2/5)
Value: This bottle registers in at $100. At this price we expected so much more. (1.5/5)
“We believe the cold climate aging left no real indication of age or oak on this Lock Stock & Barrel 13 Year. “
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.