Review: Virginia Distillery Co. Scholar’s Craft American Single Malt

Review: Virginia Distillery Co. Scholar’s Craft American Single Malt

Touting “Coffee Cask” aging on its label, Virginia Distillery Co.’s Scholar’s Craft American Single Malt Whisky immediately caught my attention. As lover of all things coffee, I was intrigued by the proposition of a 100% barley single malt aged in former bourbon casks and finished in coffee barrels.

Virginia Distillery Co. is well known for its interesting and innovative distillations. We’ve loved its Courage & Conviction American Single Malt in a variety of its expressions, as well as its Journey Cask Collection Caledonia, among others. So on the basis of their prior releases, I was eager to sample Scholar’s Craft and experience the added infusion of coffee into this distillery’s artful whiskies.

Honey-amber in color, Scholar’s Craft’s appearance foretells its aromas. It offers sweet honey, jasmine, and enticing vanilla notes on the nose, immediately evoking bourbon connotations before the first sip. But while it’s aged in bourbon casks, it departs immediately from that legacy upon sipping.

The first sip offers a deliciously mocha-like leather flavor, together with a touch of lightly smoky tobacco over a backdrop of sweeter stone fruit. Allowing the whisky to unfold itself over time reveals touches of creamier banana and caramel. This is a whisky that rewards unrushed tasting with increasingly nuanced scents and flavors, ranging from the spicy cinnamon bark to soothing cream.

The one flavor I was searching for, however, I simply did not find. At moments I strained and searched my palate, thinking, maybe, just maybe, but no. While the coffee cask finish may have been an important step in the process for this fine whisky, I can’t say it made any impression on my otherwise coffee-centric palate. With that said, however, it may be that the coffee cask finish was responsible for some of those other delectable complexities I enjoyed so much in this whisky.

All in all, Scholar’s Craft is indeed a study-worthy distillation, and it will inspire moments of deep reflection for the contemplative single malt connoisseur. Virginia Distillery Co.’s tradition of trying new approaches to aging and finishing its pure barley whiskies is thriving nicely, and this limited release is no exception. Get it while you can.

92 proof.


Virginia Distillery Co. Scholar's Craft American Single Malt




Robert Strohmeyer has been writing about spirits, wine, and food since 2001. A frequent denizen of Northern California wineries and distilleries, he is as at home with a glass of small-batch whisky as with a Napa Valley Cab. He loves crafting tiki cocktails, roasting coffee, cooking slow and low barbecue, baking artisan breads, and occasionally brewing beer.

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