Recently, I was contacted by a marketing firm that works for Virginia Distilling Company, letting me know that Courage & Conviction, an American Single Malt Whiskey, was now available for purchase by mail order in my home state of Louisiana, and would I be interested in a sample bottle to review for this blog. The whisky arrived this week.
The Virginia Distillery Company was founded by an Irish doctor, George D. Moore, who immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s seeking new business opportunities. He founded a distillery to make single malt whisky true to old world (primarily Scottish and Irish) single malt whisky. This whisky is made from 100% American malted barley and is aged for three or more years in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a mixture of ex-bourbon (50%), sherry (25%), and French cuvee casks(25%). It is bottled at 92 proof.
The color is a lovely straw color, and on the swirl is a magnificent film and legs. It may be that they are distilling this to around 100 proof as they do in Scotland, as at 92 proof this whiskey is nicely oily and syrupy when you pour it and swirl it. On the nose is malted barley goodness, honeysuckle, lemon peel, and faint dark fruit. Really a complex and incredible nose. On the palate I find citrus fruit notes, primarily lemon, like you would find in scotch aged for a long time in ex-bourbon casks such as Glen Grant 15, along with honey, black pepper, and a hint off dark fruits. This really is a flavor bomb, yet the cuvee casks give this whisky an amazing softness. The mouthfeel is rich and syrupy. This has a really lingering finish, where the lemon turns to lemon meringue, then sherry and black pepper.
One of my law partners whose office is close to mine recently started drinking whiskey neat, so I cracked this bottle at the office Friday and we sampled it. His favorite whisky so far is Glenmorangie, and he really liked this. I had my wife try it; she felt that the flavors were a little lacking on the front end but that the taste and finish were excellent particularly given that the whisky is pretty young. One important note while tasting this whisky is that it really needs a chew to coat the whole palate on the front end. If you just sip it it can be a little flat at first, which is how my wife tasted it. But when you chew it you really get an amazing burst of flavor on the palate from the get go.
This is a delicious single malt whisky that is true to the old school Scottish and Irish single malt traditions yet is entirely American. I admit that it is pricey for American whisky at $75 a bottle, but in the arena of single malt the price is entirely reasonable given the flavor profile and the casks used to produce it. If Courage & Conviction is a sign of where American Single Malt whisky is going, Scotland, Ireland, and Japan have a lot to be worried about.