Tag Archives: Oak

Getting out of my comfort zone and into something so insanely magnificent, I had to write about it – Bodegas Valdespino’s Cardenal VORS Palo Cortado Sherry


Region – Spain – ABV – 22%

Cardenal Palo Cortado VORS (Valdespino)Guys. Gals. I’m headed in a fast and downward spiral into the world of sherry.

I’m in the rabbit hole.

I really hope others will join me. It’s an amazing world of flavors for us all to explore.

I’ve enjoyed my fair share of sherries (say that 3 times real fast) over the past 10 years or so but, as of late, I now find myself craving the Spanish fortified wine.

Cardenal Palo Cortado VORS (Valdespino)Normally, when one starts writing reviews for this or that product, they’ll start at the Chevy or Ford of that respective product.

I decided to begin with the Volvo P1800 of sherry.

This sherry I’m about to review is bad ass and one can spend forever and a day enveloped in its loveliness.

I could go into the details of various sherry types, how it’s made, etc… but I am no expert. If you want to know more, please be sure to visit sherrynotes.com

Bodegas Valdespino’s Cardenal VORS Palo Cortado Sherry:

On the nose — Absolutely amazing smelling. It noses a bit like a heavily sherried whisky.

Bodegas Valdespino’s Cardenal VORS Palo Cortado SherryGood oaky backbone with hints of menthol floating above notes of buckwheat syrup, crushed black peppercorns, toasted almond and coconut, damp autumn leaves, burnt pie crusts, toasted raw grain sprouted bread.

Magnificent. A perfect nose.

Bodegas Valdespino’s Cardenal VORS Palo Cortado SherryIn the mouth — Dry on the palate and intensely rich front to mid palate with lightening fast tones of fresh black grapes, oak chests you’ve inherited from your great-great grand father, coconut milk, treacle, licorice nibs and a mere hint of coal dust.

Bodegas Valdespino’s Cardenal VORS Palo Cortado SherryThe mouthfeel is lightly oiled. Kaffir (lime) leaves are noted on the 2nd sip and now I’m discovering just how salty this sherry is.

Building umami, chocolate covered raisins.

Finish — Rich and salty with lasting notes of menthol and mixed, roasted nuts.

In sum — As mentioned above, I’ve been dabbling in sherries for the past 10 years or more and this is easily the best sherry of it’s style I’ve ever had. Worth seeking out and shelling out a few shekels.


Things that’ve impressed the hell out of me this year.


Fukano Japanese Whisky Cask 300Things that’ve impressed the hell out of me this year?

Almost nothing.

2016 has be a crap year with too many good people dying and various tragedies that there just doesn’t seem to be an end to (take your pick).

Thankfully, there is whisky.

This single cask of Fukano Japanese whisky (distilled from rice), however, impressed the hell out of me.

Region – Japan – ABV – 41.8% (natural cask strength)

On the nose — Say what?! Nose this blindly and I would have guessed/assumed this was a 20+ year old Willett Rye.

Wonderful oak framing with a spiciness that is so rye-like.

Fukano Japanese Whisky Cask 300Chocolate, Vanilla (with hints of raspberry) tarts and seasoned oak. Top note of acetone that plays well with warmed dill sauce.

Crisp starfruit that leads into notes of Mexican chocolate, deep vanilla and fresh coconut.

A better nose than most American rye whiskies I’ve had. Wonderful to find this profile in Japanese hooch. I could just smell this for 20min straight.

Fukano Japanese Whisky Cask 300In the mouth — Easy and oily entry with a growing waxy mouthfeel.  The palate is very similar to the nose but somehow, warmer.

Nutmeg and chocolate come to the fore but so does a great deal of vanilla bean.

Mild pickling spices, gentle yet rich red fruits, boozy butterscotch verging on Werther’s Original candies.

Fukano Japanese Whisky Cask 300Finish — Long and lovely (that’s what she said?) with lasting notes of a spiced vanilla latte.

In sum — I am massively impressed with this whisky. There have been some stand-offish nay-sayers when it comes to whisky distilled from rice.

I say – take the Pepsi challenge. Taste this blind and you will be more than pleasantly surprised.

At only $69/bottle, I suggest you grab one and drink the shit out of it.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 6 – Malt Whisky Co’s “Tullibardine Bourbon”


Region – Highlands – 60.9% ABV

While this is my very first Advent Calendar countdown I know that the tradition of following an Advent Calendar goes back quite some time.  And year after year young boys and girls around the world would get their little chocolate Advent Calendars, and get a new sweet each day until Christmas.  Fun!

This year, however, I think , may be different for nearly everyone between the ages of 5 and 75.  I think many (myself FIRMLY included) fall into this camp:

Star Wars Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Doing all I can to NOT think about the upcoming Star Wars film, I will get “into the spirit.” Not the Christmas spirit (that wouldn’t be very Jewish of me now would it?), rather, I will get into the WHISKY spirit!

Today is another interesting one from The Malt Whisky Company.  This is not a single cask but a cask strength (60.9% ABV) NAS release of Tullibardine matured in bourbon casks.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar
This is from the orchard which is just a few miles from my house!

On the nose — A bit quiet at first but if you give it a minute you’ll be rewarded with quite present notes of an apple orchard on a warm late September afternoon.  Crisp apples and groundlings swell the air with sweetness.
Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarToffee, and honey, and cooked rhubarb all in buttery pie crust.

Some of the more bourbon-y characteristics come to the fore now: pencil shavings, coconut flesh, and is that a hint of mint my nose doth detect a glint?

In the mouth — In a word: Bright.

In two words: Bright, peppery.

In a set of words that is complete in itself (also known as a sentence): While the whisky starts off with a very bright pop of apple sweet-tartness, there is a growth of pepper that moves from the tip of the tongue to the back of the palate.  However, this is whisky is in no way hot. (yay!)

Let’s take another sip…

vanilla_mochi_ice_cream_by_meri64-d596kt4The notes in the mid palate are much heavier when you focus on them: warmed honey with a hint of sea salt, white chocolate, Celery salt and shredded celery root, and Vanilla mocha. Also revealed is a note of yellow cake with white frosting.

The mouth feel is slightly oily with a touch of an effervescent feel on the tongue which is quite nice.

Finish — The pepper that grew to the back of the palate sticks around, yet the  flavors are medium in length.

In sum — I will not lie here, this whisky seems a bit all over the place. However, I am an adventurous person and found it’s scatteredbrainedness to be quite fun.

I could find myself with a bunch of friends finishing a bottle of this in a couple of days and having a really good weekend doing it!

Barrell Bourbon single cask release for Gordon’s Fine Wines – an 8yo “Tennessee whisky” *not* produced by Jack Daniels (so, it’s a big Dickel then, right?)


Region – Tennessee – 62.35% ABV (multiply by 2 to get “proof”, if you feel you need to. Or just keep it simple and use the more logical ABV system) – $89/bottle and only available at Gordon’s Fine Wines in Watham, MA.

Last night I did a seminar at Gordon’s Fine Wines in Watham (you know you’re pronouncing the town name right as when you say it, it sounds like you’re clearing your throat), Massachusetts.

I only recently (recent being this past March) found out about Gordon’s because of my new job with ImpEx Beverages.  Gordon’s is an account of mine.   In working with Gordon’s, I found that both Nick and Kenny (my contacts there) seemed to know and care more about whisk(e)y than most people I know. As a whisky geek myself, that was exciting.

Actually, I recently reviewed one of their single cask selections. A Russell’s Reserve single cask bourbon.  Their bottling and the one from Warehouse Liquors in Chicago selected by one of my favorite people, Gene Charness, helped me to appreciate these cask selections.

Anyway, after the seminar, Nick broke out bottles of “this and that” and we all had a good time tasting “this and that.”

As I was leaving, I asked Nick if there was anything else he felt I needed to taste of.

“Have you had our Barrell Bourbon selection?” asked Nick. “No,” I replied, “I’ve not had that one yet. I didn’t know that they were doing single cask bottlings.” Proudly, Nick said “actually, we were the first to do a Barrell Bourbon single cask selection.” “Well,” I exclaimed “let’s have a pour!”

Ladies and gents. this bourbon was the best bourbon I had this year hands down.  Gordon’s being my account or no, I speak truths here.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is in the top 5 whiskies I’ve had all year.  I had to buy a bottle, and buy a bottle I did.

I love bourbon, I really do.  My issue with bourbon, however, is that it all tastes like bourbon.  It’s all (for the most part) very samey with some fun nuances.  This bourbon, however, presented flavors to me that made it stand apart from the rest.

Barrell Bourbon George Dickel Gordon's Fine WinesPerhaps because it’s a Tennessee whisky (Yes, “whisky.” That’s how George Dickel spells it and we’re making an assumption here that this is a Dickel whisky) with their charcoal filtration process it’s different? Not sure. All I can say is — sweet fancy moses, this is good hooch!
So, what are the full details?  8yo & 6mos, new charred oak, cask # 013, bottle # 101, 62.35% ABV

Details on taste? Here you go:

Barrell Bourbon George Dickel Gordon's Fine WinesOn the nose — Corn (obviously, I mean this is a corn based spirit…).  Fried treats such as apple fritters (heavy in oil) and funnel cakes with powdered sugar.

Candied nuts such as cashew, filbert and pecans.  Sweet tomato sauce over fried dough on a paper bag with the oil soaking through the bag. I feel like they’ve bottled the smells from a fall country fair.  Salted butterscotch caramels, too.

Everything in its right place here. Amazing.

Barrell Bourbon George Dickel Gordon's Fine WinesIn the mouth — F#ck and Yes. A powerful entry (62.35% ABV after all) but the whisky is so viscous, the juice wraps your tongue in Phyllo dough, honey and walnuts (and walnut oil). It’s like drinking baklava.

If you feel like you need to add water, go ahead. Me? I think it’s at the perfect strength.

Honey cooked coconut flesh over vanilla ice cream with Kahlua poured over it all. This is such an indulgent whisky.

Finish — Interminable. The nuttiness takes over but there’s a salty element here to balance it out.

In sum — Drop dead gorgeous. I’m in love. This is one of those rare moments where I wish I had enough $$ to buy a whole case. I will need a 2nd bottle for sure. This is as celebratory a dram as it gets.  My hat’s off to you Nick and Kenny — a well selected cask of whisky!


Wild Turkey “Kentucky Spirit” cask # 98, pick by Julio’s


Region – Kentucky – 50.5% ABV

Wild Turkey Kentucky SpiritI’m not a bourbon guy (generally speaking). Really, I’m just not huge on American spirits in general.

Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy bourbon, rye, and other American whiskeys. It’s just that, well, my heart and passion is in malt whisky.

You can look at all of my posts over the past 6 or so years, and see that I focus on malt whisky. Malt whisky is mine, my precious.  I wants it. I needs it. The others, they’re all tricksie!!

Gollum! Gollum!

Still, I need to give credit to a whisk(e)y where credit is due.  There are some good bourbons, great bourbons, and amazing bourbonsout there. Today, I’m reviewing a great bourbon. A well selected cask.

I think this cask may be all sold out at this point (I’m glad I purchased my bottle when I did) as this was a bottling that Whisky Advocate quite liked.  It’s in the top 10 of 2015’s releases.  Not too shabby.

On to the tasting!

On the nose — Spoiler alert! It smells like bourbon! Cloves, cinnamon, allspice, pencil shavings, coconut, cooked vanilla pods.  The standard stuff you’d expect to smell (thank you new charred oak – we know you all too well).

Let’s get beyond this though… buttered popcorn, wet leather, salted bread dough (huh…), Cherry tarts. All of these notes are well integrated.

In the mouth — Big and spicy stuff with notes of salted licorice, vanilla ice cream, buttered baguette, cream of corn soup (if it could be a very sweet soup).  Pear skins, and a hint of mint.  Decent mouthfeel with a fair amount of oiliness.

Finish — Cherry tootsie pops, all the way.  Medium finish

In sum — This can be picked apart (a la the above) or treated like bourbon should be treated – simply fine-fine sippin’ juice!  Really yummy stuff here.  Nicely chosen, Julio’s!!  Well met.