I liked the bourbon cask Kavalan Solist I reviewed the most of the few Kavalans I’ve had so far. But: a) that’s not saying much as the others ranged from poor to ordinary, and b) I didn’t think it particularly great either and certainly not good enough to justify the high price. Up next is a sherry cask Solist released in 2012, and I hope it will put on a better show. Let’s get right to it.
Kavalan Solist, Sherry Cask (58.6%; Cask S060710004; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Massively sherried (not surprising given the rich mahogany colour). Leather and wood (the wood transitions from piney to tannic oak to old polished wood); lots of salt and something reminiscent of cola concentrate. The fruit starts out with raisins but soon there’s a lot of plum sauce with some lemon and after a while some apricot jam and some dark marmalade. Very nice indeed. With a lot of time and air the wood comes back out to the front and it’s got a bit of a tannic bite now. Water pushes the wood back (making it more dusty) and brings out some graphite (pencil lead).
Palate: Surprisingly drinkable at full strength and not mouth-puckeringly tannic, as I half expected it to be. Instead it leads with the fruit: lemon first and then orange peel and apricots. The fruit transitions to oak (not polished) and salt. Water mutes the oak significantly and ups the lemon-orange-apricot complex. Somewhat (dark) rummy now with light molasses and caramel.
Finish: Long. The fruit hangs around but the dominant note is of the oak, which gets more tannic/astringent as it goes (though not off-puttingly so). Some light soy sauce too. Less wood with water on the finish too and also more spice: cloves, a hint of cinnamon.
Comments: I really, really liked the nose (much better neat). The palate was more generic (and had less going on) and there was a bit too much wood on the finish (though both improved with water). Still, this is my new favourite Kavalan. Alas, I can’t quite get behind the price: this is going for about $140 in Europe (where it’s still available) and will likely be between $150 and $200 in the US. For those prices you can do much better and you can get similar whisky for far less money. I’d certainly buy the Amrut Intermediate Sherry over this every single time (and suddenly it would look like a good deal).
Rating: 88 points.