Calvados maker Boulard, who’s been at it since 1825, recently upped the ante with its Calvados Boulard 12 Barrel Collection. Each limited-edition release from the collection sees Calvados aged in an additional cask type. In the case of Boulard V.S.O.P Rye Cask Finish, a double-distilled Calvados Pays d’Auge (a brandy made from both apple and pears) is first aged in oak casks before further maturation in American rye whiskey casks. The spirit was released in fall 2020 to the tune of just 2,000 bottles.
Its nose features caramel apples and maple syrup, as well as sweet, freshly pressed apple cider, cinnamon, and mulling spices. The first flavors on the palate are of caramel-dipped green apples, maple syrup, and dried apricots. It is medium in body, but feels round and rich on the palate. Those caramel green apple notes continue to the center, where the first signs of a dry counter to the thus-far sweet experience emerge in the form of oak.
The back continues to dry out with the addition of cinnamon and rye plus a darkly sweet touch of raisin. Somewhat surprisingly, the sweet caramel apple note that started the experience pops back up after the spice surge, and the whole experience ends with another stream of the sweet, fresh cider that started it all.
Boulard V.S.O.P. Rye Cask Finish is an excellent marriage of round, caramel sweetness, rye spice, and fresh apple flavor. On the strength of those merits, it may surpass apple cider donuts as my preferred apple-based indulgence during the fall and winter season.
— 40% ABV