Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Vino de Naranja Casks
Company: Penelope Bourbon
Distillery: Sourced from MGP
Release Date: September 2022
Age: NAS (4 years according to the company’s website)
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 15% Wheat, 7% Rye, 3% Malted Barley
MSRP: $75 (2023)
Orange cream | Bubble gum | Baking spice | Fresh cut lumber | Burnt orange rind
Burnt Orange | Orange cream | Floral | French vanilla
Baking spices | White pepper | Walnut | Bitter
A unique barrel finish bourbon that comes out swinging with orange as its main flavor component, but is let down by its finish
Penelope Bourbon has been on a fun barrel finish trip during the second half of 2022 with a pair of highly unique offerings under their Cooper Series. The company’s Tokaji Cask Finish Rye took us by surprise with its sharp rye spice, whipped cream sweetness, and fresh ripe strawberries flavor profile. It’s a release that’s still in our minds months later.
Their follow up, Valencia, features their four grain bourbon blend finished in vino de naranja casks from Spain. For those unfamiliar, vino de naranja is an orange wine that is produced with white wine macerated with orange peels. Orange can be a flavor note found in some bourbons, but rarely is it featured front and center. Here its palate waffles between being sweet in the form of orange cream, to dark and robust as burnt orange rind can extrude. It turns over to a mix of baking spices and white pepper during its finish, creating a spicy contrast. Surprisingly, the finish also turns noticeably bitter. As this whiskey has deliberate shades of an Old Fashioned cocktail in its construction, the finish gives off a taste like someone used one too many dabs of bitters to make it. Far from derailing the sip entirely, it instead loses some of the effectiveness of the nose and palate brought to it. I’m hoping Penelope can finetune this unique barrel finish as they have the potential for something special and one of a kind here.