Spirits

Kentucky distillery aging brandy by blasting rock music

The property features a store made from shipping containers.

The property features a store made from shipping containers.  (Copper & Kings)

Oak, copper, Hendrix and Springsteen: These ingredients make up the unusual aging process at Copper & Kings, a brandy distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Instead of just letting his brandy rest for a few years, owner Joe Heron constantly blasts music in the room where his aging barrels are stored to gently pulsate the liquid inside.

“I don’t really call them vibrations,” Heron told Vice News of the subtle beats. “It’s a very romantic process. It’s more of a caress.”

Heron calls the process “sonic aging” and it's used to create all nine of its brewed craft spirits, including brandy and absinthe. The sound frequencies allow for constant circulation, meaning more of the liquid comes into contact with the oak barrels. Copper & Kings’ brandy is a mix of aged grapes and apples, which Heron says requires a delicate, nuanced aging process.

“Grain spirits you have to really punch into shape,” Heron said. “Brandy you coax, which explains a bit behind the sonic aging process. The sonic aging process is actually really integral to who we are as a company as well.”

The small brewery is already becoming a popular local tourist destination with four-and-a-half stars on Yelp and top marks for its unique spirits and cool atmosphere. Music is, of course, integral to the entire operation which opened in 2014.

The three copper stills, called Sarah, Magdalena and Isis, are named after women in Bob Dylan songs. Music is played throughout the entire factory.

Depending on the time of year—or the brewers’ moods—the playlist can vary wildly. On Fourth of July, for example, they blasted American rock legends like Springsteen, Hendrix, Kravitz, and Bowie. Other days it might be a sporadic jazz playlist or modern band like Kings of Leon. But they draw the line at pop icon Katy Perry.

Copper & Kings offers distillery tours on the hour every day of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday and includes a rooftop tasting session for just $10.