In April of 2020, the Virginia Distillery Co. launched its flagship single malt whiskey, Courage & Conviction (it follows the October 2019 release of Prelude: Courage & Conviction, a potable preview of this final product).
Courage & Conviction is distilled from 100% malted barley and aged in bourbon, cuvée, and sherry casks (including fino, Pedro Ximenez and oloroso) for at least three years. All this action occurs on-site at the VDC facility in Lovington, Virginia.
Prelude, too, was aged for three years in bourbon, cuvée, and sherry. But the flagship has the benefit of one extra summer of aging—pushing it closer to 3.5 to 4 years in age—and carries more influence from the cuvée cask.
Its nose recalls raisins, candied walnuts, cherry pipe tobacco, vanilla cream, sourdough bread in the oven, and honey-nut desserts like baklava. The influence of sherry is certainly detected, as is the earthy malt.
On the palate it’s creamy and soft in texture, and its initial flavors are at once sweet, malty, and sherried. There’s an immediate presence of vanilla and honey, which clashes beautifully with its earthy malt and sherried fig. The sherry flavors take on greater measure at the center, with notes of spice cake and cherry tobacco becoming more prominent. The spirit, now grippy and tannic, darkens with leather at the finish, and caps off with a wisp of smoke and light, yet acutely felt spice.
From sherried fig to spice cake to smoke, Courage & Conviction feels like a rapid tour of recognizable single malt flavors, all of which are detectable but soft enough not to crowd each other out. There’s also a pleasant dollop of bourbon flavor in the mix, which contrasts nicely with the sherried character.
For years, Virginia Distillery Co. has advocated for the creation of an American single malt category. The fulfillment of the Courage & Conviction promise to deliver an experience that’s decidedly single malt but distinctly different is another point in their favor.
— 46% ABV