Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I’ve tried Scotch. I’ve tried bourbon. I’ve tried rye, American whiskey, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, Taiwanese whisky, flavored whiskey, wheat whiskey, corn whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, Canadian whiskey, etc…. Of all of them, the category I’m most excited about is the American Single Malt (“ASM”) category.
Unlike other categories which already exist and are defined, ASM is an (almost) brand new category of whiskey, widely expected to be codified in the U.S. sometime in 2023. With over 200 distilleries making ASM whiskey, the category now has more distilleries than all of Scotland.
Thought of as the free-wheeling cousin of scotch, ASM has its own guidelines: must be made from 100% malted barley, distilled at one distillery, made & aged in the U.S., matured in oak casks, and some other distillation and bottling rules. The key here is that it can be aged in any oak cask, not just a new charred American Oak barrel, as with bourbon. Ex-rum oak? You bet. Ex-sherry? Yup. Tequila? As long as it’s oak, you’re golden.
Helping lead the charge of the new category is Virginia Distillery Co. (“VDC”), whose products I’ve reviewed before. A family business started by the late Dr. George Moore, CEO Gareth Moore, whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting, and his mother Angela took the helm after Dr. Moore passed and have grown the brand to be one of the highest awarded young distilleries around.
Importantly, VDC is not trying to make Scotch. In their new release, their Courage and Conviction Double Cask Reserve, VDC continues to expand their product line, this time through blending a unique product. Previously, VDC released four whiskeys in their Courage & Conviction line: one aged in sherry barrels, one is cuvee casks (French wine), one in bourbon, and one that was a blend of all three. The Double Cask Reserve is an expression that is a blend of 5-year old bourbon cask and STR cuvee casks, STR being barrels that have been shaved, toasted, and re-charred.
We review Virginia Distillery Company Courage & Conviction Double Cask Reserve, an American single malt made from a blend of whiskey aged in bourbon casks & STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) cuvee casks. (image via VDC)
Vital Stats: Aged a minimum of 5 years. A blend of bourbon casks & STR cuvee casks. 96 proof (48%ABV). $89.99/750ml.
Appearance: Rusty yellow, like a sunset over water.
Nose: Malt and popcorn spryly leap from the glass, with hay and milk chocolate lingering after. Slight note of dried figs pop out from time to time.
Palate: Milk chocolate quickly appears following the nose. Spicy black pepper enters with dark wood notes of toasted oak and campfire. The finish is coffee beans and lightly medicinal sea spray.
Whiskey Review: Virginia Distillery Company Courage & Conviction Double Cask Reserve
This expression should make Virginia Distillery Co. proud. A very classic single malt whiskey, it brings the warm caramel of ex-bourbon barrels and marries them perfectly with slightly creamier (and fruiter) cuvee casks. The blend is well-balanced, creating something that is deeply reminiscent of Single Malt Scotch whisky, but somehow distinguishes itself as more robust and burly. I’m a fan.
I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia....