Tasting Video #9

Dec 7, 2023 |

I had a great time taking tiny bottle #35 – Cardenal Mendoza Brandy de Jerez back to Spain for a tasting! I’ve got two different takes on this bottle. My first guest, Borja, is a man of few (but carefully selected) words, while my second guest, John, has a lot to say about his once-favorite brandy!

Prefer to read than watch? Check out the transcript under the video. 



Tammy: So I think this bottle is from 1982 to 1985, because I can tell from the tax label. What would we expect from a Brandy de Jerez that’s 40 years old?

After Credits:

Tammy: Hello and welcome to my Tiny Bottles, the project where I’m exploring my grandmother’s legacy of miniature liquor bottles, one tiny bottle at a time.

Tammy: I’m your host, Tammy Coxen, and I’m here in Jerez de la Frontera with Borja, and he’s going to tell us a little about where we are.

Borja (in Spanish accented, tentative English): Hello, my name is Borja and I have a tiny wine shop in Jerez where I sell probably the best wine in the world – sherry wine.

Tammy: I agree. And we are here not to taste Sherry, alas, because I have not found a tiny bottle of sherry yet, but I do have a tiny bottle of Cardinal Mendoza brandy.

Tammy: And so what can you tell us about Cardinal Mendoza?

Borja: Cardinal Mendoza is a famous brandy here in Jerez, made from an old company.

Borja: And it is very popular, so good, Brandy. Yes.

Tammy: So I think this bottle is from 1982 to 1985 because I can tell from the tax label. What would we expect from a Brandy de Jerez that’s 40 years old?

Borja: Yes, it’s fantastic brandy. Yes, so good!

Tammy: All right, well, let’s find out.

Tammy: Some of these bottles are very low because they were made of plastic. This one is glass, and very solid.

Tammy: It was wrapped in plastic, bright yellow plastic, which is now in my glass.

Tammy: All right. This is part of the fun. Aha! All right, there’s a little, little cardboard.

Borja: Uh huh.

Tammy: That’s why we have that good seal. Okay. All right. I’ll go ahead and pour you some.

Tammy: So what are you noticing?

Borja: It smells so good.

Tammy: Any particular aroma that you notice?

Borja: Nuts.

Tammy: Hmm. I just mostly get the alcohol. It’s very hot. A little bit of raisin? Sweet smell.

Borja: A little bit. Mmmm, so good.

Tammy: It’s not very sweet. I’ve had Some Brandy de Jerez, which is quite sweet.

Borja: A little bit.

Tammy: This is not very sweet.

Borja: Just a little bit only.

Tammy: So how would you think an old bottle like this would compare to the modern cardinal Mendoza? We have a modern bottle right here.

Borja: Probably similar

Tammy: You expect it to be about the same. All right, let’s find out. We went to the restaurant across the street to get these glasses so that we could compare.

Tammy & Borja: Salud!

Tammy: More caramel? Toffee? Raisin? Much more aromatic. And this is my experience with the older bottles.
You can’t smell them as much at least right away. They come up later.

Borja: (old glass) More concentrated. (new glass) More lighter. (old glass) This is more concentrated.

Tammy: The older one? It’s even a little thicker.

Borja: A little bit. Yes, lost some water, perhaps.

Tammy: Maybe.

Borja: More concentrate.

Tammy: Much richer in flavour. The alcohol is..

Borja: 40

Tammy: Yes, I think it’s 40 all the time.

Borja: Mmmm. Yes. Yes. Older is better.

Tammy: Older is better. All right, well, this one wins. So far, I’ve tasted liqueurs. Most of the time the old ones are not good. Some spirits, the old ones are better and some not. I like the old one better.

Borja: Perhaps if you wait 30 years.

Tammy: In the bottle?

Borja: Yes, in the big bottle too. It the same!

Tammy: Maybe.

Borja: Probably, yeah?

Tammy: This is made in the same method that’s used to make sherry. So it’s aged through a variety of barrels and barrels are refilled and it’s the same kind of process that they use to make the amazing sherry wines that we are surrounded by right now.

Thank you so much for tasting. Where can people find you on the internet if they want to know more?

Borja: Casa de Jerez, lacasadejerez.com

Tammy: Alright, thank you so much. Salud!


Tammy: Alright, so this is tasting part two. This is John Cancilla. He is the reason I am here because he works with Zingerman’s food tours and I am on a food tour of Andalucia at this time. John is one of the Spanish tour partners.

Tammy: Fortunately he speaks a little more English than Borja did. And he also told me that he’s a big fan of Cardenal Mendoza. This was your brandy. So tell us about that.

John: This was my go-to brandy for years. In the 80s. I moved to Spain in the 1980s and I was introducted to Cardenal Mendoza by my first father in law.

John: He had a bar in Madrid. And it was something that I would have one or two fingers each night for years.

Tammy: this is from your era. This is 82 to 85.

John: I was drinking it from 80 until about the middle of the 90s. And at that time I… found other brandies that I liked more.

Tammy: So here is a blast from your past, John.

Tammy: Does it smell like it used to? Does it taste like you remember?

John: It’s better. Better than I remember. It’s really good.

Tammy: It smells really good. Acutally, in the shop when we first opened it we couldn’t smell it very much, but it’s come up a lot now and it’s really got a lot more caramel notes, a lot more aroma

John: toasted caramel

Tammy: Yeah. So I also have for you the modern one so we can see how that’s changed.

John: Okay, just on the nose, this is why I actually transitioned out of Cardenal Mendoza. This has got a sweeter caramel on the nose and I’m a little afraid to taste it. Cardenal Medonza will have the wood very well intergerated in the brandy. There’s some nice soft vanilla notes. And this smells like caramel. It’s actually lost the toastiness.


John: That’s still a good brandy. It’s not as well integrated, it’s got more alcohol, it’s higher alcohol, you notice it’s a hotter brandy.

Tammy: I think they’re both the same percentage so maybe some evaporation.

John: No, it’s the integration.

Tammy: Definitely tastes different.

John: But um no, I have no idea if it’s got more alcohol or not, but it tastes hotter.

Tammy: Well, thank you John. You wanna finish that one? You can totally finish that one.


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