Kavalan Sextuple Review (King Car Conductor, Single Malt, Solist Ex-Bourbon, Solist Sherry, Solist Fino Sherry, Solist Vinho Barrique)

Taiwan. Land of… that video with that one racist fuck wit. And otherwise really nice people.
Not that I’d know. I’ve worked with two Taiwanese people, and they were cool, however I don’t want to paint an entire culture with two Canadian-Taiwanese people who I worked with.
So Taiwan, what’s up with that? Well they are  country… and even saying that is really contentious.
So to avoid entering into a fight I can’t even begin to understand, I’ll instead talk about a Distillery in Taiwan. And by “a”, I mean “first and only”.
Located in a rural part of Taiwan, Kavalan is named for the indigenous natives who originally lived in Taiwan. This distillery started up in 2006, making it the oldest distillery on the island.
And still the only one.
Kavalan’s many awards aside, and young spirit, I’m interested in them because of the region. The climate ranges between tropical and sub tropical, so I feel like it’s the happy place between Indian hyper aging and American fast aging.
So, they’ve won many awards, they are 8 years old, and the malt has my attention. Also some political things, but let’s skip that for now.
Let’s see how these taste, shall we?
Region: Taiwan

King Car Whisky 2.jpg

Up first we have King Car Conductor, which should make you scratch your head. See Kavalan is made by the King Car Group. So this one is the first to carry the name of the group rather than the Kavalan name.

It’s meant to be a well-rounded malt to represent a well-rounded group. And well-rounded is an understatement. These guys also make Coffee, Logistics, Bottled Water, Processed food, Molecular Biology research, and Root Beer.

Holy shit, they’re pretty extensive. Imagine working one day on a new Single Malt and then celebrating because your coffee is selling well and they just upgrade Penicillin (or whatever biology is, I’m bad at science).

So, no finish, single malt, and named as a nod to their corporate leaders. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we? (I’m hoping for Root Beer).

King Car Whisky 1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Abv: 46%

Colour: 10YR 6/6

Nose: Butter, wood, vanilla, nectarine, nutmeg

Well it’s certainly subtle, so there’s that. Reminds me of an uncooked baking mix for a cobbler.

Wait, that doesn’t make sense to people in the whisky world… dammit…

I’m guessing this is ex-bourbon cask, as that has a lot of effect in the vanilla, wood, and buttery elements.

That sounds better. Go me.

Taste: Peach, butter, pepper, nutmeg, cashew butter, raw alcohol

I’m assuming this is young. It tastes young. And it has bad and good with that.

The raw alcohol isn’t too nice, however the Cashew I’m liking. And I think you could only get that from a younger malt.

Still wish there was root beer.

Finish: Caramel, passion fruit, orange, raw alcohol, almond flour, oregano

Nice finish, though the almond flour and oregano would be nice if they could fuck off and die.

There’s good potential here.

Conclusion: Did I already say good potential? Fuck.

So it’s a nice dram. Better than the Kavalan Single Malt, that’s for certain. I think it benefits from the youthful aspects, yet needs more time in the cask, as otherwise it’s pretty rough. I know it’s hyper aged due to the climate, however let’s not go TOO fast in the future, okay?

77/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #270


 

Kavalan Single malt 2

Up next we have the real entry malt, Kavalan Single Malt. This is a gold medal whining whisky in 2011.

And we all know what that means: Someone important liked it! So… there’s that.

But do we know if we’ll like it. For instance, I could find out tomorrow that Steven Hawking thought that Home Alone 3 was the greatest movie ever made. And while I’d still listen to him about science, I’d question it.

Taste is so subjective. You have to know if your tastes, and I know mine. So if you’re reading these reviews, and I differ, then you know that you shouldn’t take my reviews as a buyers guide, and rather use them as they are meant to be: A tool to imagine a world with sentient whisky that has genitalia and a kink for humans drinking them while they scream.

I mean… come on, that’s the main reason I write. That and my crippling inability to stop writing.

Anyway… what were we doing? Okay, yeah, middle of a Kavalan multi-review, gotcha.

So… let’s see how this dram tastes, shall we?

Kavalan Single malt 1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Abv: 40%

Colour: 10YR 7/8

Nose: Passion fruit, peach, wood, lemon, caramel cake, butter

Similar to the King Car above, however….it’s weaker. And not as nice.

Like at some point in some mens and most womens lives, this one isn’t as nice as the old one, and doesn’t smell as nice. Also it drives over your dad’s lawn and totally thinks you should have rough anal.

Just me? Alright, well, don’t judge, you’re only 12 once.

Taste: Butter, peach, nutmeg syrup, walnut

So on the one side, there’s less raw alcohol here. And it’s nice to drink. Not many flavours however I like the taste.

The nutmeg is pretty strong too. Oddly enough the mouthfeel is still pretty oily, so… there’s that. I guess.

Finish: Butter, peanut, cashew, coconut, mint, old ginger, funk

So this starts out saving the entire dram, and then slaps you in the ear with all its might.

The funk, the old ginger taste, and the mint just ruin it. By themselves? They couldn’t fuck it over. Together? Oh yeah, they can kick your ass. Like a sea bass.

Motherfuckers can swim.

Conclusion: As you can tell, I’ve had a little bit of an odd day while writing this.

Also I wasn’t a fan of this one. The finish was funky bad (as opposed to funky good, which if you don’t know what that is… Jesus Fuck, get some good music in your life!). The taste had a good mouthfeel adn was smooth. It was a solid B-. The nose reminds me that this could be better (scroll up for that).

So I’d probably skip this one in the future. It’s just too low Abv and not enough good things.

70/100


 

Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon 2

Hello from the other side. At least I can say I tried Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask.

I wish I could tell you I’m sorry for that joke, but fuck you, that song is amazing.

So Mamma Mia, what do we have here? The Solist? What, pray tell, does that mean? Well let me tell you:

The Solist series is the single cask offering from Kavalan.

See, all I had to do was Say Something. You didn’t have to give up on me. Jerk.

This one was in the ex-Bourbon cask. Others are in other Casks.

Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Abv: 57.8%

Colour: 5Y 8/6

Nose: Cotton, mango, floral, birch, coconut, thyme, vanilla

Well you don’t have to go back to Louisiana for cotton, it’s right here. So no need to be a mile from Taxarkana.

The cotton does take the Cake on this one. Everything else is a mixture of it and some earth or the vanilla tones.

Taste: Herbal, coconut, orange, 7-Up, rice pudding, burn, oily, pine

Very herbal. Eventually has some pine in it, which we know isn’t normally my thing. However the other sweet notes help balance it, so I like it.

Granted after I said that, you’ll stop calling me on my cell phone. Which can only mean one thing: We just don’t get along anymore.

Finish: Coconut, thyme, vanilla, lemongrass, cumin, arugula, hot

Nice finish! It’s on fire! Not too much, however the cask strength does leave some burn at the very end. More herbs, yet now it’s balanced more with earth in it.

Conclusion: This is a monster mash of different flavours, made down in the laboratory. This is what people talk about when they rave about Kavalan: Big flavours that take on casks very well.

The vanilla, the herbs, and the earthy/floral notes throughout are what makes this great. I’d recommend this one anytime. I could ramble on about this one, however I gotta find the queen of all my dreams, and this… is on its way.

80/100


 

Kavalan Solist Sherry 2

Thanks to /u/UncleTobys for this sample!

More Solos. So many hans in this one (get it! Because Star Wars! HA!)

Moving on…

Up next we have Kavalan Solist Sherry. Not to be mixed up with the Solist Fino Sherry. Confused yet? Cause I sure am.

Both are cask strength. Both are aged in Sherry casks. Both don’t have genitals (until my master plan comes to fruition). However one notes a Fino Sherry, and this one leaves us guessing.

So, it’s like the one above, however aged in sherry casks. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Kavalan Solist Sherry 1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Cask: S060710004A

Vintage: 10.07.2006

Bottled: 02.06.2012

Abv: 58.6%

Colour: 5YR 2/6

Nose: Strawberry, walnuts, currants, cranberry, sea air, brown butter, vanilla, orange

Yup, it’s from a sherry cask. We’re all done here, see you next time! . . . I guess I can say more here. The nuttiness is more present than normal. Nice amount of vanilla and orange notes. Like a cranberry sauce made by the ocean, except 99% of us have never done that, so it makes no sense.

Nose = Good, like fruits and salt, good, yum.

Taste: Craisins, molasses, lime, cinnamon, sugar, earthy, bubblegum

The above may sound tasty. Heck, re-reading my notes, I wondered, aloud, what I didn’t like about this.

I think it was the general combination. Like a rougher rum maybe. Too many rough edges in the taste.

But again: It’s young, so it’s expected. Still has some issues.

Finish: Nutmeg, sulfur, cocoa, orange rind, dry, melon candy

The finish isn’t good. The sulfur (which I hate complaining about, and apologize for doing so now) is too much.here. Any nice parts (cocoa, nutmeg) are drowned out by seemingly plastic notes, bitter parts, or too much dryness.

And let me tell you, no one likes it when it’s super dry. No one.

Conclusion: And that’s why I’m not allowed back at the zoo anymore.

Anyway, back to the dram: It could be good, if the cask was better. Maybe. Or perhaps this doesn’t pair super well with sherry. Or maybe the type of sherry was bad. Or perhaps /u/UncleTobys sent me poison and I’m dying right now.

None the less, this isn’t that great, and I can’t really recommend it. The ex-bourbon is better.

73/100


 

Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Cask (cask SO60814013) 2

Up next we have Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry, and you may be asking yourself, Well, how did I get here? Good question.

So as I said above, everyone’s favourite Uncle sent me a sample of Kavalan Solist Sherry. And then I saw there was aKavalan Solist Fino Sherry. I didn’t know if they were different or not.

From what I’ve read, while there are differences, it’s mostly just a continuation of the one. A change of bottling, some different casks, and we’re all good.

The main difference is this one used top quality Fino Sherry butts, where the other one didn’t. And I have to say, I like big butts and I can’t deny. I may even get sprung when I see them.

Also it was the best new single malt and recommended all over the place, blah, blah, blah. Seriously, you just want me to try it, right?

Alright, let’s see how this one tastes, shall we?

Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Cask (cask SO60814013) 1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Cask: S06081413

Abv: 57.8%

Colour: 5YR 6/10

Nose: Cherry, grapefruit, caramel, buttered yams, oak, lime

Drinking this I am taken to a place where your crystal mind and megenta feelings taken shelfter in the base of my spine, as it’s sweet like a chica cherry cola.

Not really, but it sounds good. The nose is much better than before. Amazing how a good cask can impart better flavours on this one. The earth is just the right amount to add something to this.

Also I want to make yams now, however no one else likes them in the house. Damn cat’s not liking yams.

Taste: Papaya, vanilla, orange, sea air, brown butter, walnut oil

Less sickly sweet notes than the Sherry cask and more deep, thick notes. I miss the molasses, but that’s okay. This isn’t black Betty, she had a child. Damn thing gone wild.

The papaya is more present, which adds a nice refreshing aspect to the dram. Mixes well with the Sea Air.

Finish: Anise, strawberry, caramel, cinnamon, earth

Better finish, however I’m seeing a pattern of “meh” finishes on Kavalan so far. I mean, it’s not rank and funky like the last one, however… I was expecting more?

Because seriously, I’ve got no time for fakers, only the best will do.

Conclusion: This is the right way to do things: They used good casks, they let it shine, and they improved on what came before by a large margin. Also King Car left this one as Cask Strength so that all those marked improvements weren’t completely lost in the water.

Could the finish be better? Hells Yes it could. However this dram made me feel, with my feet upon the ground I lose myself between the sounds and open wide to suck it in. Or something. It’s good, and surprisingly better than the Ex-Bourbon)

81/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #271


 

Kavalan Vinho Barrique 2

Thanks to /u/Devoz for this dram

And finally we have the much talked about Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique, aged in barrels that were both red and white. May God’s love be with me as I review this, as I really made the grade on this one.

Or at least I hope to.

So they take both red and wine casks, re-toast them, and then put this dram in there. That in and of itself is pretty fucking sweet. I’m a sucker for odd casks.

Which is silly, because this could be good, or this could be nightmare dreams no mortal mind could hold.

So, let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Kavalan Vinho Barrique 1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Abv: 57.8%

Colour: 5YR 3/8

Nose: Current, almond, pear, red grapes, grapefruit, peanut, candy coating

While drinking this my heart’s in the basement, and my weekend’s at an all time low. However I soldier on, being me, because that’s what he’d want, if I ever came into view.

Sweet. Almost too much sweetness as it opens up. However there’s a good amount of bitter acidity to reign it in. Reminds me of a sherry whisky nose, yet there’s more to it.

Taste: Plum, butterscotch, papaya, orange, brown sugar, sourbrotten, cherry, walnut

This doesn’t fake it baby, it lays the real thing on me. Big plum flavours, tons of sour notes (but not too sour), and no off notes.

I personally love sourbrotten notes. It’s very… unique. Sour and beef. Can’t get away from it. It’s in my scrawny hand, it’s in my icy heart, it’s happening today.

Finish: Dry, grapefruit, lemongrass, basil, anise, earthy, nutmeg

It’s little wonder I getting this dram. It’s dry at the end, adding an extra level of complexity.

It’s… I’d compare it to a city full of flowers, a city full of rain. It’s different smells, colours, and changes. It may be sad while I write this, however it’s a beautiful dram none the less.

Conclusion: While drinking this I feel like saying “Look at this, I’m up in Heaven”, though maybe that’s a little hyperbole and too many quotes. Or maybe I just want to look through African eyes lit by the glare of this dram’s fire.

It’s complex. It’s tasty. Is it perfect? Far from it. However it’s the best of the bunch by quite a few leaps. They fixed the finish. They kept interesting notes. It tastes different, and it is different.

So I like it. I could sip this every night and not stop being surprised. Even when I’m sad that I’ve lost someone who helped me be who I am.

84/100

World Whisky reviews #126-131, Taiwan review #2-7, Whisky Network review #620-625

One thought on “Kavalan Sextuple Review (King Car Conductor, Single Malt, Solist Ex-Bourbon, Solist Sherry, Solist Fino Sherry, Solist Vinho Barrique)

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