Highland Festival Grounds | September 19 - 22, 2024

Brandon O’Daniel

Brandon O’Daniel grew up with dirt under his fingernails. From an early age, he’d be tasked with pulling weeds from his mother’s garden while she made her way through snow, rain, heat and gloom as a U.S. Postal worker. He didn’t mind, he loved being outside no matter the reason, whether hunting, fishing and tramping through the family farm. 

His grandfather forged the family’s connection to wine, but it wasn’t until after college when O’Daniel took to vineyard management and consulting that he really fell in love with all that springs from the vine. When Kentucky’s agricultural economy shifted away from tobacco, O’Daniel worked to educate farmers about Kentucky’s best grape varietals, and how to grow, harvest and make them into the best wines possible. Eventually, he was moved to become a winemaker himself. Obsessive about the process from plant, to harvest, to wine, to distillation, to aging, it only made sense that he found his way to Copper & Kings where he fell into a like-minded cadre, equally obsessive about the natural, small-batch process that takes Brandy from ground to glass. 

O’Daniel often says that distilling is a science and an art. Though he holds an undergraduate degree in Horticulture management and natural resources and a master’s in plant and soil science focused on viticulture and enology, when distilling Copper & Kings he leans much more into the art of distilling – around the still you’ll find him smelling, tasting, listening and leaning into the process, which is all done without the aid of modern distilling computer programs. This means every batch is different, but that’s the way he likes it. “We’re just making alcohol and having fun.”

He was named Whisky Magazine’s Whiskey Ambassador of the Year named as an “Icons Of Whiskey” in 2009, 2012, and 2016.

Recognized by prominent Writer/Author Fred Minnick he emphatically states that Bernie is “The person that single handedly brought Bottled In Bond whiskey back to the forefront.”