Tag Archives: Peppery

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.


Westland Garryana – a new and true innovation in the world of single malt


Region – Seattle, Washington – 56.2% ABV

Not to be confused with Gary, Indiana…

Westland GarryanaWestland’s new Garryana single malt is a deep dive into the exploration of a new type of oak that few have used before. That oak is conveniently named after the whisky at hand (or is that vice versa? I think it’s vice versa. I’m sure of it. Yup, vice versa).

All single malt producing countries have access to  oak casks for maturing their whisk(e)y. The good bulk of those oak casks comes from right here in the US of A. The oak used to make said casks is called American White Oak.

(There’s a fancy schmancy Latin name for it, too, but I’m not that fancy schmancy so I’ll just stick with “American White Oak.” Plus, I failed Latin in my senior year of high school – Mrs. Whatsherface had it out for me. I didn’t want to fish for Carpe in that Diem pond, I told her!)

European Oak casks are quite common, too. You’ll find those are more widely used in whiskies that were matured using sherry casks (though there’s a lot of sherry matured in American White Oak, too).

Now, Japan is lucky. They have their very own Mizunara Oak which is quite loverly but who the heck can afford Japanese whiskies these days, not to mention Japanese whiskies matured in Mizunara Oak which is VERY leaky.

The French have their oak, too. That’s called French Oak. How convenient. That oak offers up nice, spicy flavors to whiskies.

Because we’re America, and apparently the winningest (or so we like to say over and over and over again) we’ve got another type of oak that grows specifically in the Pacific Northwest that is suitable for maturing whisk(e)y.

This oak is called Garry Oak, or, Garryana.

Having visited the Westland distillery a few times, and having once been in their warehouse, I had the luxury of tasting some single cask Garry Oak matured Westland. It was intense, for sure, but damn unique and quite delicious.  Westland has now been maturing single malt in a good number of Garryana casks and this release is the result.

Given the intense flavor profile of Garryana matured single malt, it makes sense that the use of this component makes up 21% of the over all mixture. The malt used in the Garryana casks, btw, is Washington Pale Malt. The rest is:

  • 26% Peated Malt (New Charred American White Oak)
  • 10% Washington Pale Malt (used American White Oak)
  • 43% Five Malt blend (New Charred American White Oak)

If you want to learn more about this wonderful single malt whiskey and the process of Garryana discovery, be sure to check out this Podcast:

Also, if you have a few minutes, be sure to watch this video (it’s beautifully shot, cool, informative, and fun):

Finally, without any further ado, my review of this new whisky from Westland Distillery. ***Spoiler Alert — it’s fantstic through and through***

On the nose — Chocolate, to be sure, but I expect that note given Westland’s use of Chocolate malt in their Five Malt mashbill.

Westland GarryanaDeep sweet notes of burnt sun dried tomatoes, crushed raisin with sugar and balsamic, sticky smoke, and herb rubs – like cleaning the BBQ sauce off your grill at the start of Grilling season.

Back to the more chocolatey notes, hints of mocha or cappuccino with a side of red velvet cake. Newly opened tin of oil paint tubes.

Also a swirl of melting and toasted, yet milky caramel.

Westland GarryanaIn the mouth — We’ll begin with the smoke but that’s immediately followed up with German brown bread and a side of carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and all.

Sweet meets ashy meets savory meets sweet again. The mouthfeel is oily verging on succulent – it’s big.

Westland GarryanaOn to the spices of ginger, nutmeg, and clove. I want to say smoked paprika but I wont. Forget I typed that, forget you read it. No, put it back in there. Smoked paprika.

White pepper, too.

Westland GarryanaAs we near the finish, that German brown bread makes it self be known again. This time with a raisiny fervor!

Finish — Long with a sweet yet smoky – like BBQ sauce with an umami-esque goodness.

In sum — This is one of the finest single malts I’ve had this year, hands down. Top 5 for sure. This is not only ticking all of the boxes as far as what I long for in a single malt, this has created new boxes I never even thought to look for.

**Special thanks to the good folks at Westland Distillery for the sample!!

Westland Garryana

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 20 – Weymss Malts “Aromatic Orange Tobacco,” Glenrothes 25yo, Cask # 4250


Region – Speyside – ABV – 46%

Today we’re tasting the second Glenrothes single cask in the 2015 Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar bottled by Weymss Malts.  This one is a 25yo that was matured in a sherry butt.  The previous one, “Kumquat Cluster,” was a 22yo also matured in a sherry butt.

These guys seem to like big butts.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

No, not that kind of butt!  This kind (the one on the left, that is. The one on the right is a bourbon barrel):

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

Being that the “Kumquat Cluster” was perhaps the first Glenrothes I’ve truly enjoyed, I wonder if this big butt whisky will procure a similar result. Let us see…

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015On the nose — Very fragrant, almost incense like.

Damp sandalwood, indiscernible cooking spices, walk-in humidor, loads and loads of CT Shade Grown cigar wrappers, whisky spilt on a leather bound book, used books, cedar oil. I could live in this glass right now.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015In the mouth — Orange oil, new suede, tinned fruits, orange juice/soy sauce mix for basting, warm honey, hints of clove.

Lightly oily mouthfeel.

Finish — Slightly spicy and fairly long with lasting citrus and used books.

In sum — These guys are going to turn me into an old-Glenrothes junkie!  Drop dead gorgeous whisky.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 19 – Samaroli 1995 Miltonduff(man), cask # 2848


Region – Speyside – ABV – 45%


On the nose — Very fresh, fruity, and jammy.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015A whiff of peat lurks beneath like a boat carrying passengers such as anise pizzelle cookies, gooseberries, acrylic varnish, fresh mustard seeds, and clementine compote with honey along the River Styx (I hope they have money for the boatman!).

In the mouth — Starts off quiet but as the mouthfeel begins to thicken, the clementine-like citrus note I got on the nose presents itself.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Celery stalks, celery salt, and jicama, like being thrown through the CERN particle collider, smash into notes of kumquat, paraffin wax, white pepper, and asian pear.

Finish — Short to medium. Hints of white pepper and *maybe* a little more citrus.

In sum — A great whisky that you can either just sit and enjoy or pick apart. On a day like today, I wish I had more of this so I could just sit and relax!!

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 18 – A.D. Rattray’s Auchroisk 1993, 22yo, Cask # 2789


Region – Speyside – ABV – 52.6%

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Known for its spicy character, Auchroisk is a natural for blends that require a little bit of a spicy or peppery zing to them. The distillery name “Auchroisk” is also known for having a plethora of mispronunciations. As I am told, the true pronunciation is “Oth-rusk.”

There you go! You’ve just learned something new. You’re welcome.

I tend to put Auchroisk, Tormore and Dailuaine in the “these are the spicy malts” category.  And hey, it’s Friday, right? Shouldn’t we have a little spice in our lives on a Friday?

Also, words, words, words, blah, blah, blah… You’re likely in line for the new Star Wars film so I could start writing whatever the heck I want to right now. Maybe even toss in some swear words and dick jokes if the feeling so hits me. No one will care because… oh, wait, you can read this on Dec 19th and thereafter, huh? Ok, ok, on to the review… (darn it):

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015On the nose — It takes a little bit but… Delicately floral, and only hints of chiles. What follows this are notes of lemongrass, kefir leaves, coconut soup!

Melon and citrus infused simple syrup.  Top this off with some hints of crushed almonds.

In the mouth — Here’s where the spice kicks in. Bright and gripping with added softer tones of chamomile, vanilla, honeysuckle, and pipe tobacco.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Meyer lemon zest with a wonderful almond paste note. This is such a great combination of fresh, spicy, inviting and yet soft.

Finish — Not long enough!!

In sum — Just a wonderfully delicious single cask of whisky. If you’ve ever thought of taking a chance on a bottle of Auchroisk, this’d be a GREAT entrée!