Courage & Conviction American Single Malt – Sherry Cask

Batch: Nancy Fraley (2021)

MASH BILL – 100% malted barley

PROOF – 92

AGE – 3+ years

DISTILLERY – Virginia Distilling Co.

PRICE – $64 (on sale from ~$87)

WORTH BUYING? – Considering other options from this distillery, not quite.

This is my fifth outing with Virginia Distilling in the past year and a half or so. The first came recommended to me by a reader of this blog, and was the 2020 “Dr. George G. Moore” batch release. Then came the “Dr. Jim Swan” release, which blended just slightly older whiskeys than its predecessor. Around the time of the Jim Swan release, Virginia Distillery began to release Courage & Conviction’s three components individually—the bourbon, sherry, and cuvée casks—offering an opportunity to try the parts outside of their sum.

What Virginia Distilling accomplishes in only 3 to 4 years is impressive. Their fine blending of whiskies aged in varying used casks achieves a level of maturity in flavor that thoroughly belies the whisky’s relative youth. Trying those components separately, unblended, is exactly the kind of rabbit hole a whisky fan enjoys diving into. I’ve already tried the Bourbon and Cuvée casks. So when the Sherry cask release went on sale at a local shop, it was a no-brainer buy.

I’ll admit I was waiting for that sale. I’d picked up the Cuvée cask release on sale as well. The Bourbon cask release I’d paid full price. Finding it quite similar to the Dr. Jim Swan blend, which I’d compared it to in a side by side, I’d determined that the similarities didn’t make the full expense worth further investment for me. But on sale? Sure!

I uncorked the bottle on a sunny weekend afternoon in the backyard of a friend’s home. We were celebrating a few birthdays at once, and I’d been tasked with making High Balls for everyone. Based on my past experience with the Courage & Conviction Cuvée release, I estimated this Sherry cask release might contribute well.

Two ounces of whisky, four of Fever Tree Club Soda, and an orange wedge on ice. My friends found it refreshing. I found it slightly edgy for my tastes. With this same group I’d previously made High Balls using Kaiyō The Sheri and Schweppe’s Tonic Water. The Kaiyō’s pronounced sweetness cut through the Schweppe’s to strike a pleasing balance of sweetness and minerality that I preferred. This Courage & Conviction / Fever Tree Club Soda combo leaned too heavy on the mineral side for me. But my friends were happy and it was their birthdays, so, Huzzah!

Now here we are, one week after uncorking and six pours into the bottle. This will actually be my first time tasting the whisky on its own, outside of those cocktails. These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.

COLOR – bright buttery yellow, refracting the world around it

NOSE – sherry, butter, apricot compote with golden raisins, toasted sliced wheat bread

TASTE – very like the nose, with cream, toasted and granulating honey, milk chocolate, the warmth of red wine, a slight tannic outline

FINISH – butter, honey, plum tart, a lightly prickly warmth, that tannic edge gently fading

OVERALL – an easy, sticky sweet, fruity sipper

Definitely sweet, like syrupy fruit sugars amped up by more cane sugar syrup stirred in for good measure. If I didn’t already know it makes an edgy High Ball, I’d mark it off as a worthy cocktail ingredient. It may yet be, mixed with something other than Fever Tree Club Soda. But on its own it’s a bit too sweet for my tastes.

Unlike past outings with Courage & Conviction, this time around I find myself a bit bored with the sweet youth of it. I’m curious what another 5 or 10 years might bring out. Surely Virginia Distilling is working toward such ages. They’ll be costly, without a doubt. But with some mellowing over time, the sweetness of this Sherry Cask outing might be tempered by the oak’s more savory flavors.

If you’re curious about Courage & Conviction, introduce yourself to it via the standard blended release, or else the Bourbon Cask release. The brand is definitely worth the introduction. And if you do want a slightly sweeter version, you might go for the more well-rounded Cuvée rather than this Sherry. Unless you’re a fan of sticky sweet flavors, in which case this Sherry Cask outing might be for you.


2 thoughts on “Courage & Conviction American Single Malt – Sherry Cask

  1. You obviously know your whiskeys, I wish I had your discernment of taste, me I like it or I don’t like it picking all the ingredients is a talent.


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