My plan for today was to serve up a modern day riff on the Bronx cocktail, but I received a package in the mail yesterday from Coopers’ Craft in Kentucky with an invitation to celebrate National Pi Day. Once again, who knew there was such a thing?? I certainly didn’t, but it makes sense that today would be the day; it’s 3/14 and pi is 3.14159… you get the idea. Coincidentally, it also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday. Anyway, included in the box was a bottle of Coopers’ Craft toasted wood bourbon and their Kentucky Bourbon Pie in a Jar filling. It was simply too good to pass up! I quickly assembled a basic pie crust and pressed it into the stoneware dish that was also in the box with the filling and the bourbon. To prepare the filling itself, I simply mixed it together with some butter and eggs and poured it into the crust. I popped it into the oven and focused on tasting the bourbon and coming up with an Old-Fashioned that would complement the pie.
Coopers’ Craft is produced by Brown-Forman Cooperage, which has been making its own barrels for more than 70 years. The barrels used in the Coppers’ Craft bourbon are toasted first, before they are charred, which means they are heated gently, rather than immediately blackened. The toasting process contributes vanilla and spicy flavors to the finished product. Charring is exactly what it sounds like. The insides of the barrels are literally blackened, caramelizing the wood sugars, which brings in notes of caramel and honey. All of these flavors are definitely present in Coopers’ Craft bourbon. It’s soft and approachable with the sweetness that bourbon is known for, but it finishes with a warm vanilla spiciness that is very reminiscent of rye whiskey. As a person who generally prefers rye, I found this to be a bourbon that I could truly enjoy drinking. To complement the pie filling, I decided to go with maple syrup as the sweetener in my Old-Fashioned, as opposed to the demerara sugar cube I would normally use. I also swapped out the traditional aromatic bitters for Black Cloud’s charred cedar bitters, which had the effect of enhancing the wood flavors of the bourbon even more.
When the pie came out of the oven, I had a few taste testers available who were eagerly waiting to give me some feedback. Everyone agreed across the board that the pie was one of the most amazing things they’d ever tasted, only improved by topping it with vanilla ice cream. They also agreed that the maple and charred cedar flavors worked very well in the old-fashioned, making it the perfect accompaniment for the pie. Coopers’ Craft Kentucky Bourbon Pie Filling is available at Louisville Stoneware and online at louisvillestoneware.com. Their bourbon is available for purchase in certain Southern states with the hopes of expanding the market very soon. I was able to find some online distributors through wine-searcher.com. Both products are definitely worth seeking out!
National Pi Day Old-Fashioned
Place 1 single large cube in an old-fashioned glass. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Express an orange peel over the drink and then drop into the glass. Enjoy!