Courage and Conviction. Double Barrel Reserve.
The Virginia Distillery focuses on producing whisky fully matured in ex bourbon and various sherry and red wine barrels, which they now sell separately and also blended together in their initial Signature (flagship) edition using 50% Bourbon and 25% each of sherry and cuvee (red wine) casks. (See earlier blogs for a review of the the Signature).
This latest release continues the tradition and is a 5+ year old single malt consisting of spirit matured in ex bourbon and cuvee barrels, then 'vatted and married' prior to bottling. Having picked up a 'free' sample bottle I compared it side by side with the Signature edition.
Courage and Conviction Double Barrel Reserve.
Age: NAS on the bottle, but said to be 5+ years. (The age of the various releases is showing a gradual increase).
ABV: 48%. A touch higher than the Signature edition.
Color: 0.5. Yellow Gold. Slightly darker than the Signature edition, but still quite light.
Swirl: Thin but well defined rim, small tight and delicate puckering, delaying the formation of legs.
Nose: More laid back than the Signature edition. A little richer and deeper with less ethanol prickle. Orchard fruits, especially apple, rather than the youthful tropical fruit of the Signature edition. Some baked cookie notes. Pleasant.
Taste: Shows more body and viscosity than the Signature version. A well integrated profile for a craft whisky, with apple peel, grapes, raspberries and merlot wine flavors, with a hint of cinnamon. Warm throughout. Still retains a fresh feel overall.
Finish: Medium/Short, quite hot, stewed apples dominate with some cherry pie overtones. Fades away without drama. Crisper than the Signature version.
Verdict: Unless you are looking for something really light and perky, I have no hesitation in saying the Double Barrel is superior to the Signature blend, and worth the extra $15/bottle or so. It is at the 'high end' of American Single Malts with a profile that is unashamedly targeting many of Speyside's best. It makes for a good pre-dinner dram.
I pulled out some 14 year old Glenmorangie Port Finish Quinta Rubin for comparison. It is about the same price as the C&C Double barrel. The Glenmorangie was significantly more mellow , showing off its greater maturity, and was naturally deeper and richer in profile. However, while it was well integrated, it was somewhat one dimensional. The C&C Double Barrel came across as a little more complex and intriguing, showing great promise and will likely be a real stand out at 8-10 years. Might suggest slightly more bourbon and slightly less cuvee barrels in the mix.