Whisky Focus - Virginia Black American Whiskey Review

Virginia Black American Whiskey Review

9th November 2016

Review of Virginia Black American Whiskey by Murray Cohen.

Virginia Black American Whiskey Review.Virginia Black Decadent American Whisky is a unique collaboration between founder and CEO of Virginia Black, Brent Hocking and Drake, a Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor.

Brent Hocking by the way founded DeLeón Tequila in 2008. As a further tidbit of information, DeLeón Tequila was later purchased in 2013 by Diageo and partner, Sean Combs (Puff Daddy) another well-known rapper, singer and actor.

Drake landed an equity stake in Virginia Black after putting his own money into the venture. As described by the brand, Virginia Black is "a personally selected collection of two, three and four year-old bourbons finished with a decadent profile".

Hocking made a deal with the distiller MGP to create a blend of two-year, three-year and four-year bourbons focused on a high rye profile. "The name is just to evoke kind of a sense of glamour," says Hocking. "It’s just a sexy name". As indicated by Forbes: "Hocking’s got a new spirit backed by a younger rapper: Virginia Black whiskey, the first liquor venture undertaken by Drake, who ranks No. 4 on this year’s list with earnings of $38.5 million".

The whiskey, bottled at 40% ABV, is presented in a seven sided ribbed bottle with a metal square in the centre sitting on its apex which all oozes glamour. There is no doubt that this whiskey is meant to appeal to both men and women. Hocking said of this whiskey that it is "uniquely positioned to redefine American Whiskey, [and that] Virginia Black will engage enthusiasts irrespective of spirit preference or experience."

It is currently available in most US states and now Canada where it currently has a price of $39.95 Canadian for 750ml. The whiskey is available in the Province of Ontario through the LCBO, released there in September 2016. I recommend this whiskey.

Murray Cohen's Virginia Black American Whiskey Tasting Notes:

Colour:  Dark amber maple syrup.

Nose:  An instant fragrant rush crystallizes into super sweet citrus fruit and then exudes some spice highlighted by miniscule flecks of paprika. The rye component here flexes itself and later manages the initial sweetness, toning it down several notches. Cinnamon follows late with shades of coated pastry, cherry lozenges and caramel bits.

Taste: Medium to full-bodied and syrupy. There is some sweetness, a surge of spice and suddenly green chilli notes with actual heat on the palate for a time. The figurative gear shift change from the nose to palate surprises and impresses removing any thought that this is a unidimensional whisky.

Finish: Long, the spice perseverates and a woody influence drifts along with sprinkles of cinnamon. A breath-freshening quality shines a light. A glimmer of sweetness comes and goes like the vision of a whirling dervish. The chilli notes all but gone.

Comment: Virginia Black is more complex than I imagined. It metamorphoses from nose to palate to finish in a rather striking way, gearing up in intensity and then refashioning itself on the finish. I like the variation in aroma and taste themes. I would suggest this spirit to a variety of whiskey aficionados who probably will find something enjoyable for them personally. I myself prefer it "neat". It seems appropriate for all seasons but would warm me up nicely on a cold day.

Score 85.5/100

You can find the full current Oban whisky range available from specialist Whisky retailers such as Master of Malt

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