STR heads, take note: the Virginia Distillery Co. is slowly rolling out batches of its Courage & Conviction Cuvée Single Cask, which sees the distiller’s single malt American whiskey aged solely in shaved, toasted, and re-charred red wine casks (STR casks account for just 25% of the blend in the flagship Courage & Conviction).
So, what’s the effect of pure, unadulterated STR-aging on this cask-strength (mine, cask 1266, clocked in at 59.2%) whiskey? For starters, there’s the color. It pours a beautiful, dark tawny red in the glass. On the nose, it conjures oak, raisin, and figs, leading to an overall impression of sticky, juicy desserts. There is also a sharp tang of vanilla extract, and the bready sweetness found in shortbread cookies.
It begins on the front of the palate with the dark, syrupy sweetness of prune juice, raisins, and treacle syrup, shifting to dark red wine at the middle as it heats up with a note of dark oak. This shift is followed by a dry spell of cherry pipe tobacco, cigar, and leather, before we’re hit by a very warming, dry, and thoroughly spiced finish.
Courage & Conviction Cuvée Single Cask is at once intensely juicy and syrupy in its dark fruit content, yet bone-dry and spice-forward in its tobacco-and-leather tongue-drier of a finish. Thanks to that impressive spice profile, it’s also a single malt that truly drinks like a bourbon or rye, with that full measure of wood and spice craved by New American Oak devotees but served up in a deliciously different package by virtue of its STR maturation.
At press time, Courage & Conviction Cuvée Single Cask is currently available in select liquor stores in Virginia, Texas, and Massachusetts. A full list of vendors can be found on the company’s website.
— 59.2% ABV