Virginia Distillery: Yup

Continuing my foray through the recent Sarasota, Florida, Whiskey Obsession Festival tasting this afternoon with two expressions from the Virginia Distillery. (Excellent web site from which to get all the particulars.) Gabriel Urrutia, the Southeast Market Manager, generously filled my nip bottles to the brim. Thus affording me enough for several tastes.

 

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Gabriel scores with this jacket

 

 

I went into this tasting totally blind.  I knew nothing of the distillery and chose it simply because I could try two different expressions. When trying whiskies new-to-me, I prefer to sample at least several expressions in order to get a feel for the product…  ‘cuz ya know, not all new whiskies are yummy.

Virginia DistilleryI tasted the Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland first. Wow. This is a blended whisky at 46% alc. The web site states, “The Virginia-Highland Whisky series is made from 100% malted barley. The Virginia Distillery Company marries single malt whisky made on-site in Virginia with aged malt whisky from Scotland.” What I didn’t realize at the time of tasting is that this is the flagship whisky for the series.

Notes: The color is reflective of the port casks. It tastes like big alcohol at first, then rich with the port coming through, hints of chocolate and a deep flavor overall.

Westland Distillery has an intensive and comprehensive whisky wheel, which I used for this tasting.  Gourmand is the term I think best fits this Port Cask Whisky.

Welcome to the big leagues! I rate this expression a 3 out of 4 points. Buy this whisky.

The second taste was the blended Chardonnay Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky at 46% alc. It is lighter in color and flavor. I got citrus and dough. On the Westland wheel I see it as Fruity. While the Port Cask pairs well with dark chocolate, the Chardonnay not-so-much. I hesitated but still rate is a 3- out of 4 points.

Next up will be two Balcones expressions straight outta Texas.

Tasting new whiskies is indeed an adventure. I raise a glass to adventures!

 

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Whiskey Obsession: Heaven

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Whiskey Obsession in Sarasota, Florida recently wrapped up its Sixth Annual Festival. The offering included four days of whiskey tasting, pairing, dinners, master classes, VIP tasting and an incredible general tasting. If only I could have attended all the sessions, but reality heartily laughs at my wishful thinking. I eagerly attended the VIP tasting and the general tasting on Friday the 13th. Hmm, Friday the 13th – I got nothin’. But whisky notes, I do have.

 

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The Single Cask Nation shirt grabbed lots of attention. 

 

This year I brought some sample bottles with the hopes that a few of the pours would make their way in so I wouldn’t have a tired palate, and I could pick and choose how I wanted to taste and compare the whiskies. Seven expressions made their way home with me while I tasted six different expressions during the evening. I prefer to complete each taste and rarely sip and then pour out. Waste not want not.

This blog edition primarily focuses on the samples, which I tasted over the course of a few days.

Raj Sabharwal (2017 Global Whisky Ambassador, High Commended) was my first stop during the VIP session. I actually wanted to simply pull up a stool and stay planted for the evening. The selection was varied and deep, but knowing I had a specific quest in mind I limited myself to two pours to bring home.

After nosing the seven sample bottles, I decided to compare Raj’s English Whisky Company Single Cask Release – Peated, Jamaica Rum Cask Finish @ 57.8% alc. with the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte @ 57.8% alc.

I admit that I eyed the Port Charlotte early on during the tasting and knew that it would be my last pour of the night. I like to end the night with PEAT. Lucky me also secured a sample to take home.

The Port Charlotte has an oily nose that transforms to a smoky, earthy palate that lingers on the finish. When I tasted it at the event, I rated it a 4 (top score.) Would the 4 hold up after tasting the English Whisky?

The English I poured at home. It has a candy nose with a touch of buttered popcorn – the rum comes through on the nose. The palate was more of a hay then medicinal hit finishing with a pleasant earthiness.  I was quite pleasantly pleased with this whisky and gave it a solid 3 out of 4. After the English I went back to the Port Charlotte then back to the English again. The Port Charlotte lost ground and the English gained momentum during the comparison tasting. After much thought though the Port Charlotte still edges out the English…but not by much. Could be that I am partial to Bruichladdich whiskies!

Next comparison Virginia Distillery Company, Port Cask Finished, Highland Whisky and Virginia’s Chardonnay Cask, Highland Whisky….

 

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Gabriel Urritia, Virginia Distillery Southeast Market Manager.

 

In the meantime, I raise a glass to the world of whisky and all its enthusiasts.