Thanks to Forbiddenwaffle for pouring this sample for me.
I’m still holding out hope that I find a Kavalan that beats out the best I’ve had. This isn’t something alone with Kavalan: Multiple distilleries, I’d argue all of them, have the top dram I’ve ever had and that’s a target.
No one shows up to the Olympics and thinks “man, I really won’t break any records or win anything for all my hard work and money”. Or if they do, then… wow, read the room bud.
Vinho Barrique was my favourite Kavalan. I know, I know, you get it, it was voted best whisky to come back from the dead for (or something), but when I personally reviewed it I loved it.
Not only that but this was a company using interesting casks and hyper aging in a tropical region. If that didn’t parallel a similar distillery I’m a fan of (Amrut) I don’t know what does. Since then though I haven’t found anything I loved as much.
Enter Kavalan Solist ex-Oloroso Sherry Cask KavaFAN pick, an older than normal Kavalan from those wacky, wacky fans of the Kava. And as the people who drink more Kavalan than anyone, I expect that they’ll have a new whisky that will beat my old favourite.
So this is a single cask aged in ex-Oloroso sherry for 9 years (remember it’s a tropical climate so that’s old). Will it beat out the current competitor? Let’s see, shall we?
Vintage: January 2009
Bottled: July 3 2018
Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry Cask
Cask number: S090102021
Number of bottles: 469
Bottled for: KavaFAN
Colour: 2.5YR 2/4
Nose: Toasted almond, anise, apple, cherry, toast, red licorice Nice toasted element, good nuttiness, spice, and… yeah, this is mostly sherry influences and the sherry seems to have taken over here strong, but that nuttiness gives me hope.
I think I’m just reaching at this point, but stick with me because maybe I’ll make a joke out of it!
Taste: Cinnamon, toffee, orange, molasses, anise
Nope, no joke, this is just high-proof sherry at this point. Toffee, cinnamon, anise, sherry note, sherry note, nothing that screams Kavalan (except the cask doing all the hard work again).
It’s nice, but even though it’s all sherry there’s nothing here that goes beyond most other sherried whiskies.
Finish: Smoke, toasted cumin, melon, salt water
Bitter, quite hot, and.. Hey, we have whisky notes again! The smoke probably comes from the cask char, the salt water… I don’t know, maybe that’s the whisky? The finish actually not being over sherried and having a toasty/smoke flavour is great and all but it’s a bit too little late.
Comes off very bitter at the end too. What little sweet notes pop up to help but that’s like how I turn off the bathroom light when I’m not using it versus the US Army’s typical day of electricity use to help climate change.
Conclusion: Hot, overly bitter, and over sherried. There’s potential but I think they need to balance hyper aging with how much influence on the cask there is.
There’s aspects of this I really liked: Toasted notes, lovely nuttiness, and nice spice. However, without the balancing aspects it’s hard to recommend it. What elements are the spirit? What makes this different than similar cask strength sherried whiskies?
It doesn’t really hit that sherry bomb level. The finish attempts to paint a new picture however I think there’s better out there. Unless you’re a huge fan of Kavalan this is a try before you buy or ignore.
World Whisky review #409, Taiwan review #14, Whisky Network review #2088