While their flagship single malt, Courage & Conviction, has understandably taken priority for Virginia Distillery Co., the distillery did manage another, very small release last fall in their Journey Cask Collection, dubbed Caledonia.
Caledonia is the third and final offering in the Journey Cask line, a series of single cask single malts that pays homage to the many whisky-makers that inspired and influenced Virginia Distillery Co.’s founder Dr. George G. Moore. The first, Hibernia, was an Irish single malt from Teeling’s Great Northern Distillery while the second, Britannia, was a more obscure, but no less enjoyable, English single malt from The English Whisky Co. For the third and final act, Virginia Distillery has sourced a 10-year-old Scottish single malt aged in ex-bourbon casks that reportedly honors legendary Islay whisky-maker Jim McEwan. No further details of the whisky were provided. Let’s check it out.
Based on the color, I would expect there to have been some secondary wine finishing on this whisky. The nose almost suggests as much with a brooding dark cherry sweetness that envelops a soft, briny smoke redolent with coal ash and sea salt. This is definitely an island whisky, and my guess is Islay (the Jim McEwan dedication is also a strong hint). The fruit builds as it opens in the glass with notes of berry compote and jam on burnt toast. The coastal qualities of the aroma aren’t massive, but there’s still a bit of sunny day ocean air in this one. The palate is oily but still light on its feet, with notes of sweet, stewed red fruits, barbecued meats, clove, and dark cocktail cherries. There’s a great balance between the sweet and smoke here that finds fantastic harmony mid-sip, then a crescendo that’s more candied than tarry that recedes into a long finish of cigar smoke, raspberry cordial, and a kiss of fudgy dark chocolate. An impressive end to this Journey Cask line for Virginia Distillery Co.
Unfortunately, this bottle was only one of 144, all of which sold out during the early days of the pandemic in less than an afternoon. Remember how thirsty we were then? If you can find someone (probably in Virginia) who’s sitting on one of these, make friends with them.
A / $125 / vadistillery.com