Virginia Distillery Co. – Courage & Conviction

Bourbon, Sherry, and Cuvée Individual Casks

In 2021 Virginia Distillery Co. took their flagship bottle, Courage and Conviction, and separated out the sum of it’s parts into 3 individual bottles. Each bottle of Courage and Conviction is made up of a blend of ex-Bourbon casks from Kentucky. Various Fino, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. And finally shave, toasted and re-charred European red wine casks.

Each batch has been blended by different master blenders but this release really showcased what goes into each bottle. You get to taste how Virginia Distillery Co.’s malt is aging in each type of cask and what influence came out with that cask choice.

These were tasted neat in a Glencairn, rested for a short time, with no water added. Aged a minimum of three years, each has been bottled at 46% ABV with no chill filtering and is naturally colored. They were tasted side by side in one evening. More info about the Courage and Conviction line can be found over on Virginia Distillery Co.

Courage & Conviction – Bourbon Cask

The nose is 100% ex-bourbon malt. Lots of these fruity, floral notes. Undeniably apples and pears. If you look past the malt, it’s almost like an apple brandy. Malty and mead-like character. Some slight baking spices – cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom. Anise. Orange blossom water. Dryer sheets. Quite simple in profile.

This leans heavily on those baking spice notes on the palate. A lot more sweet and savory. Stewed apple compote or a Thanksgiving stuffing with apples. Bitter profile. Cereal grains. Whole wheat bread. With water it’s a touch bit sweeter but the more dominate bitter notes win out. Lastly some leather, leaning tobacco flavors.

The finish has a bit of a grilled meat char to it. More stewed apples with some brown sugar. Lingering and pleasant oak. Every other sip you get a small burst of sweetness that is wonderfully balanced. Dried tobacco. Bit of a hay or herbal quality. Medicinal.

I really enjoy the heavy lingering spice and apple notes on this one. It’s pleasant but the youth does show. The flavors are there but some of those grainy notes need age to mellow out and let the cask influence the malt a bit more.

Courage & Conviction – Sherry Cask

Very clearly sherry cask but I cannot determine what kind from the nose. It’s funky and peppery. Grapes, currents, plum flavors. A smelly cheese – like blue cheese on a seasoned steak. Cultured butter. Malt is a bit more hidden. There’s a bold spice to this that is lending to a more savory profile.

With all the excitement I had from the nose, the palate is quite flat. It’s muted and rather uninteresting. Some of those grape and plum features are here as is the malt. Bitter apple and tannins.

Lots of tobacco flavors. Bit of old leather. Fresh pepper is the conductor of this whisky’s finish. Far less funky sherry than the nose lead me on.

Not a fan of this cask. You lose all the malt and any sweetness that might ahve been there. The sherry is so dull on the palate. Not enjoyable and the nose is its only redeeming factor.

Courage & Conviction – Cuvée Cask

Similar wine notes as the sherry cask but deeper. Bolder. Sour cherry, plum, fig. More herbal, possibly even pine or juniper. Fresh lumber and sawdust. Bit of dark cocoa. Tinge of coffee. Toasted malt balls. Best nose of the three casks.

The flavors are intense even at 46%. Lots of fruit on the palate. Really balanced with fruit sweetness and more bitter oak. Tobacco. Cocoa. Burnt sugar. Buttery. Dark chocolate biscuit. Ginger snap. Black pepper and clove. Just wow.

Creamed sugar and cocoa finish. A spiced Norwegian cookie dough with cardamom, clove and all-spice. Toasted herbs and cooked cashews. Earthy and amazing wine integration. Tobacco and a slight ashy wood char.

This is the winner by a long shot. I want to run out and try the cask strength single cask that was released now. The flavors are so harmonious. You get such amazing dark fruit combined with dark chocolate and tobacco notes.

This was a fun tasting and I’m very happy that Virginia Distillery Co. released these in 50ml minis. For the price, I recommend everyone give these a chance before buying a full bottle of their favorite. For me, the Cuvée cask is worth the blind buy. This showcases what American malt can accomplish.