This whiskey is made at the Southern Grace Distillery, located in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. The distillery is located in an old state prison, thus the name “Conviction”. The distiller, Thomas Thacker, has a real talent for making whiskey. I am not sure he uses the title of “Master Distiller”, but I would say he has earned the right to do so.
When I toured the distillery in 2019, Thomas gave me the tour. His passion for making the whiskey was apparent as he led me through the distillery / former prison. It is a small operation with pot stills that make about a barrel a day. The aging rooms are former cell blocks and prison buildings. Their product is only two years old, but that is because they have a high demand locally and are selling the two year old as fast as they make it. I found the two year old Bourbon excellent as it tastes older than the age would indicate. I believe their low barrel entry proof combined with their recipe and yeast makes a very good young whiskey.
This bottle, sent to me as a Christmas gift from Thomas, is their two year old Bourbon finished in a Vinode Naranja (orange liqueur) cask. The whiskey flavor is still there and the orange complements the whiskey without overpowering it. Matt and I tasted it and here are our notes.
Conviction Naranja Cask Finished Bourbon
Age: Two Years Old
- Mike: Very fruity – orange zest, raisins and plums, with vanilla and chocolate notes with a hint of oak and baking spices.
- Matt: Vanilla with cinnamon spice, orange zest and oak.
- Mike: Caramel with a little dark chocolate, orange zest and berries with baking spices and oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the plums and dates come out strong. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit takes a back seat to the caramel and spice, but a hint of orange zest still comes through.
- Matt: Packed with flavor. Very much fruit forward with citrus and grapes with the Bourbon in the mid-palate. The dried cranberry enhances the caramel and brings out notes of milk chocolate. The pecan added notes of marshmallow and vanilla latte coffee.
- Mike: Long with oak and notes of baking spices and chocolate. The dried cranberry enhanced the chocolate in the finish with oak and some lingering orange zest. The pecan enhanced the oak at the expense of the spice and chocolate note. They are still there but in the background.
- Matt: Lots of oak wood and spice with some lingering fruit notes. The dried cranberry made the spice a cayenne pepper with oak and chocolate. The pecan made the finish full of oak and lingering marshmallow.
I would pair this whiskey with a cigar with a lot of chocolate notes in the smoke. I would reach for a My Father The Judge cigar. The rich chocolate and cedar spice of the smoke would pair well with this whiskey.
Photo Courtesy of Rosemary Miller