In spring of 2020, Virginia Distillery Co. (VDC) launched its flagship single malt, Courage & Conviction, further establishing itself as one of the premier players in American single malt. Scoring 91 points, that whiskey was made from 100% North American malted barley, and aged for a minimum of three years in a combination of three casks: roughly 50% bourbon, 25% sherry, and 25% cuvée wine casks, what the distillery calls its shave, toasted, and re-charred (STR) barrels.
A year later, and VDC is giving whiskey drinkers a peek at those individual components, releasing each as its own single malt expression—and they’re all just as good. The Bourbon Cask uses barrels sourced from Kentucky; the Sherry Cask uses fino, oloroso, and Pedro Ximenéz casks; and the Cuvée Cask uses that STR method on European red wine barrels. Each is named in honor of master blender Nancy Fraley, a consultant and mentor for the distillery. Read the Whisky Advocate tasting notes below and see for yourself which cask is the most appealing.
Courage & Conviction Cask Component Tasting Notes
Virginia Distillery Co. Courage & Conviction Nancy Fraley Batch Sherry Cask
92 points, 46%, $85
Even amid the deeper complexity of the sherry cask influence, the tropicality comes through—lemon grove and Spanish melon, set against a backdrop of dried leaves, forest floor, and pine wood. Elegant and honeyed on the palate, with the sherry cask influence showing a winey note, banana flan, apricot, milk chocolate, orange tart, and vanilla cream. A long smooth finish brings forth baking spice, sugared lemon, banana, honeysuckle, caramel, and savory oak. Impressive.—David Fleming
Virginia Distillery Co. Courage & Conviction Nancy Fraley Batch Bourbon Cask
91 points, 46%, $85
Lightly floral tropical aromas dance with notes of vanilla wafers, lemonade, jasmine tea, green banana, cut grass, and old library. A soft subtle palate offers lemon iced tea, caramel, dark chocolate, roasted peanuts, and toasted oak, with pain grillé and lightly sweet maltiness. Vanilla flan on the finish, with great texture and length—accompanied by grilled pineapple, blueberry, a hint of coffee, and rich integrated oak. Like a great single malt scotch.—David Fleming
Virginia Distillery Co. Courage & Conviction Nancy Fraley Batch Cuveé Cask
90 points, 46%, $85
Delicate and pretty on the nose, with tropical notes of lime and lemon, warm baklava on a tray; syrupy, with cinnamon almond and walnut nuttiness. Silky and honeyed on an equally delicate palate of dark chocolate, cinnamon baked apple, vanilla frosting, and honeyed malted barley. A superbly long finish offers even more flavors—raspberry jam, blueberry muffin, and that marvelous maltiness—with water enhancing it all. Graceful, balanced, and sustained.—David Fleming