Let’s do a heavily sherried whisky for Christmas. Kavalan did very well at the most recent Malt Maniacs awards and that pushed me to finally dig out this sample purchased earlier this year and review it. I’ve quite liked the few Solists I’ve tasted so far (far more than the overpriced and overrated standard range) but of those I’ve only found a fino cask to be truly exceptional. Will this regular sherry cask be as good? Well, if it’s only as good as the last one I reviewed I won’t complain too much. Let’s get to it.
Though this doesn’t sport a prominent age statement on the bottle, it was distilled in January 2009 and bottled in April 2015. That makes it a 6 yo in absolute terms—what that translates to once you account for climate, I’m not sure, but the cask probably lost a lot more to the weather than 6 year old casks in Scotland or Japan do.
Kavalan Solist, Sherry Cask S090122079 (57.8%; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Classic richly sherried notes of raisins, caramel, maple syrup and molasses (in fact it’s somewhat reminiscent of dark rum). Gets drier as it goes and then there’s some pencil lead/graphite, some beef stock and some orange peel. With a lot of time (>60 minutes) it gets quite sticky again. Water doesn’t bring out a hint of pipe tobacco.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but with more leather and a little drier on the whole. Very drinkable at full strength with a nice mouthfeel. On the second sip it’s a little sweeter and there’s more dried orange peel and raisins and a bit of plum sauce. The citrus expands with every sip even as it gets stickier still. Brighter citrus with water, and then that coffee from the finish shows up earlier, but also a faint metallic note.
Finish: Long. All the stuff from the palate and then notes of coffee and chocolate develop at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, this was just lovely. No surprises here but it’s textbook heavily sherried whisky: perfectly balanced with no flaws. Hmmm maybe I need to stop complaining about the price of Kavalan Solists. Or maybe not.
Rating: 90 points.