Despite the French name, Bourbon is a completely American whiskey – and a popular one at that. In fact, it accounts for the majority of sales of distilled spirits the US makes abroad.
The corn-based alcoholic drink is popular for several reasons. First of all, it has a characteristic taste given by the fact that it’s aged in charred oak barrels. Secondly, it tends to pack more of an alcoholic punch, as it’s very often sold at relatively high proof even by spirits’ standards – up to 80% alcohol by volume.
Virginia Black is a joint venture by Canadian musician Drake and his business partner, Brent Hocking. It is one of the latest in a string of spirit brands that have hip-hop musicians teaming up with established alcohol brands to market the product, such as Diddy and Ciroc or 50 Cent and Effen Vodka.
The big difference here is that Virginia Black isn’t marketed as a particularly high-end drink. In fact, Drake claims it’s meant to be “for the people”, even going so far as to issue some shares of stock this year, claiming that he doesn’t need the money, but wants people to feel like they’re personally invested in the brand.
The claim to accessibility is frequent for Drake. Even the fact that the bourbon is only 40% alcohol-by-volume is a marketing strength for him, as he claims this will attract women and more casual drinkers to the label. Even the bottle has been designed to appeal to the female market.
Virginia Black Whiskey Prices
In keeping with that marketing strategy of selling to the masses, Virginia Black isn’t an extremely pricey whiskey, although it’s also not the cheapest. A bottle will cost you somewhere in the range of the mid-30’s.
While, legally, bourbon doesn’t need to be aged more than 3 years, this doesn’t mean that it’s much cheaper than international whiskeys needing to be aged for longer (Scotch has to be kept in the barrel for no less than 5 years).
Here is our price list for Virginia Black. The company only has one basic offering, but that doesn’t seem to be hurting its popularity since it’s one of the best-known bourbons on the market:
|Virginia Black Bourbon||750ml||$31.99 – $34.99||80|
Let’s now take a look at Virginia Black compared to the other bourbons out there. Unlike Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey, it may surprise you to find out that bourbon has cheap budget brands. Perhaps because it’s less tightly controlled than the European variants.
The cheapest of bourbons will cost you less than $20.00. Evan Williams Black, for instance, can sell for as low as $12.00 for the 750 mL bottle.
There is even one brand, only available in Kentucky, the supposed birthplace of bourbon, selling for $9.00 called Heaven Hill. Lovers of bourbon would have to travel there, though, as it’s not sold outside, whereas Virginia Black is sold the world over.
These bourbons have, what many would call, a stronger taste – and certainly more alcohol, as they contain 40% abv or more.
Alternatives in the Same Price Range
As for bourbons at the same price range as Virginia Black, it’s not difficult to find them. This price sits at about the average. Buffalo Trace is a popular option, which is especially attractive for the gamblers out there because it’s a blend of different bourbons, with the bottles having a somewhat variable taste.
Four Roses Small Batch is another well-known brand of similar price. This one has a stronger taste of cinnamon, but, on the other hand, it also has more alcohol. At 90 proof, it might be too strong for some people who are typically drink spirits’ of 80 proof.
A third big player on the field is Maker’s Mark. Their standard offering competes on the low-proof market, using this as a marketing point – same as Virginia Black. This brand will cost you typically few dollars more – around $40.00.
More Expensive Bourbons
Bourbons come in all price ranges, though, and there are many brands surpass the $100.00 mark. The price is a factor of the time the bourbons rest. Many of those aged for over 10 years costing over $100.00.
Virginia Black isn’t trying to get into this category, as it’s combination of bourbons aged from 2 to 4 years. More aging typically makes drinks smoother, but the price is, of course, significantly increased.
How does Virginia Black taste?
As mentioned above, Virginia Black is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, but Drake wanted to make a whiskey that was especially alluring to women. The result is a super smooth, slightly sweet bourbon with strong caramel notes.
Virginia Black has brown sugar, cherry and salted popcorn aromas with flavors of toasted marshmallow, cinnamon, green apple and lots of caramel. The finish is long and pleasant with notes of black pepper and cinnamon.
This would be a good choice for those who are just entering the world of whiskey.
Common Recipes: What to Mix with Virginia Black
Bourbon is a type of whiskey, which means that there are many famous whiskey cocktails that Virginia Black goes well with. Another strong point of the spirit is that, unlike most other types of bourbons, it has a relatively low alcohol content, which means that most people find the taste more enjoyable.
Here are a few bourbon cocktails you can try out:
The Whiskey Sour
This is one of the most famous whiskey cocktails. It harnesses the power of sour citrus fruits (such as lemons, limes, and even oranges) in order to mask the taste of strong alcohol while staying as refreshing as lemonade on a hot day. Mix the below ingredients well into a rocks glass and be sure to include a generous portion of ice. It’s also popular to garnish this drink with a cherry and a slice of lemon or lime.
- 2 parts bourbon
- 1 part lemon juice
- ½ part water
- ½ part sugar
The Mint Julep
As opposed to most famous whiskey cocktails, the Julep was created with bourbon specifically in mind, instead of just any generic whiskey. This drink falls into the category of “smash”, which means that many ingredients are smashed together in order to give you something very consistent, like a smoothie. Combine the following into an old-fashioned glass in the following order:
- Around ten mint leaves at the bottom of the glass
- One or two teaspoons of sugar on top of the mint leaves, then grind these with a spoon or something similar
- ½ part seltzer water
- Fill most of the glass with crushed ice
- 4 parts Virginia Black bourbon