So Neat

In Eat, October 2021 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Virginia Distillery Company brings its unique award-winning whiskies to NC.

When it comes to the vast and wonderful world of whisky, it’s all about the barrels. (For novices or clear-liquor types, whisky is typically aged in a variety of casks that mature the spirit, enhancing its aromas and flavors. (The more you know!) For Virginia Distillery Company, it’s bourbon, sherry and cuvée casks that round out the flavors in the Lovingston, Virginia-based distillery’s new product line, which was released in North Carolina this past summer. (And, yes, that’s whisky without the “e,” the more universal spelling of whisky that originated in Scotland.)

These new-to-the-market whiskies are line extensions of Virginia Distillery Co.’s flagship American single malt Courage & Conviction line, launched in 2020 and consisting of a combination of roughly 50% former bourbon casks from Kentucky, 25% former sherry casks from Spain and 25% European cuvée casks. The three Courage & Conviction expressions (Courage & Conviction Bourbon Cask, Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask, and Courage & Conviction Cuvée Cask) allow Virginia Distillery Co. to highlight the robust flavors from each of those casks in its full entirety—while giving whisky lovers a range of tasty flavor profiles to enjoy.

“One part of whisky that people don’t really think about is: They figure if you have a good whisky in a cask and it’s ready to go in the bottle, you just dump it in,” says Virginia Distillery Co. CEO Gareth Moore. “But picking the right casks and batching them together and then reducing them to bottle strength—that’s really its own art in itself.”

Beyond the casks, one of the other main things that helps Virginia Distillery Co.’s whiskies stand out are the grains used in production. Instead of corn and rye (standard in American whiskies like bourbon), Virginia Distillery Co. uses only malted barley. “You get a lot more flavor out of the grain,” explains Moore.

The single-malt focus is one that Moore upholds from his father, the late Dr. George G. Moore, who started Virginia Distillery Co. in 2011 (taking the helm in 2013—then “for better or worse, very naive” and knowing only about the drinking portion of the business, he jokes). It was dad George who inspired the name of the Courage & Conviction whisky line—“Have the courage of your convictions,” was a saying he often repeated to his friends and family.

“He wanted to follow his passion for single malts and make the next great American whisky company,” says Moore. “We’re honoring the traditions that have been honed over many years—not trying to reinvent the wheel—and do it in a way that’s going to take advantage of our local climate.”

The casks, the grains and Virginia’s environment (think hot and humid summers and cold, snowy winters)—plus the team of knowledgeable consultants that Moore brought in to help with production and other parts of the whisky-making process—are all what make Virginia Distillery Co.’s products so unique. And, to hit you with a little bit of science, it’s the temps that make the expansion and contraction of the casks more defined (between the seasons and even day to day)—and result in the full-bodied flavors enjoyed in the Courage & Conviction line.

“We’re definitely a discovery brand,” says Moore. “We’re trying to break the preconceived notion that American whiskies are just bourbon or rye, and also the preconceived notion that single malts are only from Scotland. The goal is to make something unique that has a sense of place—that was clearly made here.” Bottoms up, Raleigh!

Closer to home, Zebulon-based Olde Raleigh Distillery offers its own artisanal blended bourbon whiskeys, while hot spots like The Blind Barbour and Whiskey Kitchen offer a vast selection of intriguing bottles.

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