In 2018, we took you behind bars at Southern Grace Distilleries’ “Whiskey Prison” when we checked out their Conviction Small Batch Bourbon. It was a surprisingly well-built whiskey to be so young, never mind the fact that it was fermented in 50-gallon drums and distilled one gallon at a time on a pot still constructed by the owners. Since our first visit, the Conviction portfolio, using their base two-grain bourbon (reportedly 88% corn and 12% malted barley) has grown to include a double oak offering and a line of different cask finishes. We received samples of each. Thoughts follow.
Southern Grace Distilleries Conviction Double Oak 1929 – Still a young bourbon, this whiskey ages for only one year before being re-barreled for over a year in new charred oak and bottled at cask strength. On the nose, there’s that familiar, and still surprising, maturity with notes of syrupy molasses, chocolate chip cookies, and old furniture. A slightly artificial quality sees those elements evolve to more Chips Ahoy! and furniture polish, but there’s almost no grain. I’d have trouble pegging this one as a young bourbon. On the palate, that double oaking comes across as a bit overdone initially, with some overly tannic, woodshop notes, but things even out quickly to chocolate sauce and gingerbread with an easy warmth and a lingering finish of oatmeal raisin cookies and some licorice. Spring 2021 Batch. 99.8 proof. B+ / $65
Southern Grace Distilleries Conviction Naranja – For their first foray into cask finishing, the team at Southern Grace went with a slightly unusual option, finishing their standard Conviction bourbon in Vino de Naranja (orange wine) casks from Spain. This one is bottled at barrel proof and labeled as two years old, but the duration of the finishing isn’t specified. The nose is sultry and rich, again betraying its youth, and the finish is surprisingly balanced. Dark caramels and new leather are complemented by subtle, well-integrated notes of dried orange slices and baking spice. The palate is big and oily with notes of cinnamon stick, toffee, and clove-studded orange, all riding a consistent warmth. Pulpy citrus and orange rock candy notes turn a bit tart on the lingering, wine-kissed finish. 99.7 proof. A- / $70