Harry Cockburn is one of Virginia Distillery Co.’s key mentors. We are so thankful for his guidance and so happy we can recognize him by dedicating this batch to him. 


The fourth batch of our Courage & Conviction American Single Malt line is dedicated to Harry Cockburn. Harry has been a mentor and inspiration to the Virginia Distillery Co. team from the time our very foundations were laid.

Harry entered the whisky world as a maintenance engineer in 1964 and retired in 2018 at 81 years of age. Over that period, Harry became chief engineer and eventually the production director for Morrison Bowmore Distillers, one of the oldest distillery companies in Scotland. He retired in 1994 only to return to the industry as a consultant six months later. Harry has left his mark on distilleries all over the world, including Scotland, England, Ireland, the USA, Canada, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, New Zealand, Italy, and Belgium.

In 2011, Harry signed on to engineer the distilling and production systems of our distillery. Over the next four years, he was frequently at the distillery, advising and overseeing the way we laid out our distillery and installed our equipment. Harry was on site in the autumn of 2015 when we turned on our stills, and he even filled several of our first casks of whisky. Harry remains attached to our distillery, albeit at a distance, via e-mails and calls, where he offers insights into any operational questions. Harry’s knowledge and generous spirit of mentorship have been a treasure to the Virginia Distillery Company team, and we are honored to be able to recognize his impact on our whisky.


For the Harry Cockburn batch of Courage & Conviction, the malting, fermentation and distillation took place between March and September of 2016. The distillate produced between March and April of 2016 was put into Bourbon casks, while distillate produced in September of 2016 was put into both Cuvée and Sherry casks.
harry cockburn


Developed under the tutelage of the late Dr. Jim Swan, Courage & Conviction was matured in a combination of Bourbon, Cuvée and Sherry casks. All the distillate created for this batch is exactly the same, meaning we don’t mill, mash, ferment, or distill any differently based on what cask the distillate will be placed into for maturation.

A total of 49 casks (28 Bourbon, 15 Cuvée, 6 Sherry) were selected for the Harry Cockburn batch. These casks were vatted with roughly 2,000 liters of whisky from our prior batch of Courage & Conviction Batch Nancy Fraley. Then the whisky was slowly reduced to 92 proof before bottling.



Each of the 28 bourbon casks used in this batch once held Kentucky bourbon from well-known distilleries. These American oak barrels are 200 liters (52.8 gallons), and add notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, oak, smoke and cinnamon to the final product.

The 28 bourbon casks were filled between April 20th and 29th of 2016, and were vatted on July 29th of 2020. That means this batch of Courage & Conviction Burbon Cask has aged a minimum of 4 years and 3 months.



Each of the 15 cuvée casks used in this batch once held premium red wine from Europe. These European oak barrels are 225 liters (59.4 gallons). After the wine is removed, the cask is broken down, the interior shaved, re-toasted and re-charred, and reassembled. The re-toasting and re-charring of the cask energizes the wood sugars and brings forward barrel spice, bright red fruit, and toasted pecan. When the barrels were delivered to us in 2016, they almost appeared brand new: they had been re-coopered, pressure tested, and shrink wrapped.

The 15 cuvée casks were filled on October 12th, 2016, and were vatted on October 28th, 2020. That means this batch of Courage & Conviction Cuvée Cask has aged a minimum of 4 years.



Each of the 6 sherry casks used in this batch were former Spanish Sherry casks, holding a fortified wine made from white grapes. Two of the sherry casks were Fino casks, two were Oloroso casks, and the final two were Pedro Ximénez.

The 6 sherry casks were filled between September 14th and 28th of 2016, and were vatted October 21st, 2020. That means this batch of Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask has been aged a minimum of 4 years and 1 month. 

The recipe of the Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask is split evenly between the 3 sherry casks used (Fino, Oloroso, and PX).


At our Lovingston, Virginia distillery, we see hot summers and cool winters. This is good for our whisky, as the casks will contract during cooler periods and expand during the heat of the summer. This contraction and expansion allows for more interaction between the spirit and the cask, resulting in a greater depth of flavor. 

Compared to other regions of the world such as Scotland, our whiskies age faster due to the intensity of the expansion and contraction cycles. What occurs seasonally in the Old World can occur at a daily, even hourly rate here in Virginia. The upside to this is a whisky that naturally develops into a complex spirit with layers of aroma, flavor and depth at a far quicker pace than the aging time required for an Old World whisky.


The downside for us is the rate of evaporation, or “Angel’s Share.” The more interaction between barrel stave and spirit, the more evaporation. Loss from a single year of aging in Scotland or Ireland averages around 1% annually. Here at Virginia Distillery Company, we have seen an evaporation rate of 6-12% a year, proving once again that there is truth to the proverb “Age is just a number.”


  • Courage & Conviction Bourbon Cask: 3.6% est. percentage per year
  • Courage & Conviction Cuvée Cask: 1.8% est. percentage per year
  • Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask: 3.2% est. percentage per year

 Interestingly, both water and alcohol evaporate from the barrels, thus concentrating either or both elements, often to different degrees depending on heat and humidity factors. Virginia has significant humidity at times, so we’ve placed sensors among our barrels to track humidity and evaporation rates. In fact, the entry proof of our barrels may increase or decrease depending on a barrel’s location and the climate's impact. Our original estimates indicated we could see 6 to 8% losses each year, but we’re thankful to see the angel’s share being more minimal than originally expected.



The above graph shows the temperature swings during the time the whisky was maturing in our cask house between April 2016 and October 2020. The blue line shows daily high temperatures, where the copper line shows daily low temperatures.

In the 4 years the whisky was maturing in our cask houses, the hottest day was on June 11, 2016, where the temperature reached a scorching 111.9 °F. The coldest temperature was on January 7th, 2018, where the temperature dove down to a chilling -4.5 °F.

  • Bourbon Casks: The fill dates were between 4/20/16 and 4/29/16. The dump date was 7/29/2020.
  • Cuvée Casks: The fill date was 10/12/16. The dump date was 10/28/2020.
  • Sherry Casks: The fill dates were 9/14/16 and 9/28/16. The dump date was 10/21/2020.


As with previous batches, the final ratio of what goes into each bottle of Courage & Conviction is approximately from 50% Bourbon casks, 25% Cuvée casks, and 25% Sherry casks. We pulled additional volume of specific casks to hold a percentage back to incorporate into our next batch. This allows us to remain consistent from batch-to-batch while still allowing the nuance of each batch to show through based on specific barrel picks.

Bottling for this fourth batch took place between July and August 2021. The Harry Cockburn Batch of Courage & Conviction produced 3,814 cases of 750mLs, or 22,884 bottles, including:

  • 2,134 cases of Courage & Conviction Flagship
  • 560 cases of Courage & Conviction Bourbon Cask
  • 560 cases of Courage & Conviction Cuvée Cask
  • 560 cases of Courage & Conviction Sherry Cask

Below are specific sensory notes for the Harry Cockburn batch.



The flagship offering of Courage & Conviction will see a primary profile across all batches due to the specific types of casks. In addition, the ratio of those casks in our recipe is also the same from batch to batch. On the nose, you'll expect to find notes of caramel and butterscotch. On the palate, you’ll see bright red fruit, raspberry, cocoa, barrel spice and vanilla.

Based on the nuances of the individual barrel picks, you should expect to see variation from batch to batch. Below you'll find specific notes for the Harry Cockburn batch.


  • NOSE. Aromas of vanilla custard, shortbread, and a touch of cedar
  • PALATE. Flavors of orange oil, lemon zest, toasted coconut, and graham cracker
  • FINISH. The soft finish lingers with cinnamon and mild barrel spice


  • NOSE. Aromas of plum, dark raspberry, rich chocolate torte and clove
  • PALATE. Flavors of blackberry cobbler, blood orange, and toasted buttery croissant
  • FINISH. The finish has notes of candied walnuts and ginger


  • NOSE. The finish has notes of chocolate, hazelnut, and ginger
  • PALATE. A silky mouthfeel melds together flavors of hazelnut, soft leather, and toffee
  • FINISH. The finish is a slow fade of soft caramel and baking spice


  • NOSE. Aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and citrus peel
  • PALATE. Flavors of blood orange and tart cherries mingle with mocha and toasted pecan
  • FINISH. The finish has notes of chocolate, hazelnut, and ginger