Kavalan Solist Sherry Review

Kavalan Solist Sherry20121102_193444

Cask #S060710026

59.4% abv

Score:  92.5/100


Well, well…what have we here?  Yet another stunning bit of whisky magic from the far east.  Japan, India and Taiwan are putting on a hell of a show on the global stage of late.  These malts are getting more and more interesting (and more and more expensive).

First things first…I’m a little bit in love with Asian whiskies at the moment.  Need to share that bias right up front.  However, much like anything else, there are most definitely good and bad examples out there.  In recent days I have tasted some Kavalans that knocked my socks off (along with some Nikkas, Karuizawas and Amruts), but I’ve also sipped a couple that were either quite sharp or way, way, waaaaaaaay over-cooked.  All I’m saying is…you’re gonna see a high mark here, but it is based on a damn good dram, not simply skewed to my palate bias. 

If I understand correctly, Kavalan was begun almost as a vanity project.  This new kid on the block was founded in 2005, releasing their first whisky three years later, in 2008.  Now, in contrast to the machinations of Scottish distillers and the like, who release these young whiskies (under 10 years, I’d say) simply to generate early revenue (often irrespective of drinkability), the subtropical climes of some of these Asian distilleries allows for an incredibly accellerated maturation.  To put it simply…three years in these conditions is probably equivalent to four or five times that length of maturation in the more…errr…temperamental Scottish regions.  At these relatively ‘toddler-esque’ ages some of these whiskies are already immaculate.

There are, of course, many factors that contribute to the end product we consume, and I won’t pretend to know enough about this Taiwanese distillery’s water source, wood policy, maltings or what-have-you to allow me to speak with any real assurance, but I can say that whatever they’re doing at Kavalan is most definitely embraced with open arms here.

This particular Solist bottling is a singular dram.  A heavily sherried and flavour-bursting fireworks show.  I’ve tasted nothing like this one elsewhere.  Complex, deep, swirling and mysterious.  Love it.

Nose:  Heavy, heavy monolithic sherry.  Black cherry and raspberry jam.  Orange and some salty playdough notes.  Very syrupy smelling.  Raw tobacco with a hefty dose of spice.  Some tropical fruits here.  Caramelized ham skin.  Rum-soaked fruit cake.  Fresh eucalyptus and salt licorice.  Wow…is this ever a deep and swirling vortex.  An absolutely brilliant nose.

Palate:  Thick and syrupy.  Sweet and deep.  Very unique.  Raspberry jam in front, but some tropical in behind.  All sorts of magnified and amplified sherry flavors.  Slightly medicinal in some ways.  Kinda like an Aberlour a’bunadh meets an exotic and mysterious spice profile meets cough syrup.  I’ll be fucked, but it works.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

6 thoughts on “Kavalan Solist Sherry Review

  1. Peter Benkoczki

    Have you tried the Concertmaster or the plain Kavalan? The Solists are too expensive here, i will not pay 125 EUR for an unkwnon flavour anymore. 🙂

  2. skeptic

    E125? It’s well north of $200 CAD in Ontario! I’ll pass, because I have enough untasted bottles at home to keep me a while, but I do admit it sounds good…

    1. Jeff

      Agreed – Although, in the large majority of cases, overall quality isn’t really in doubt, pricing levels in Ontario have gotten out of hand; $174.95 for Macallan Sienna and the same for Talisker 57 North (!) ? Ridiculous!

    2. Peter Benkoczki

      Now that’s high too. Poor times for poor whisky-lovers, i guess. 🙂
      Glad that i too have many untasted ones at home.

  3. Tabarak Razvi

    Great review! We seem to share the same palate born of different mothers. Lovely Asian beauty this. If I had tasted this blind I might have been inclined to think it was actually a bourbon – I don’t know if you had the same first impression.

    Your reviews are brilliant – very easy to read and give a very interesting insight into your character.

    Thanks for sharing the Malt Activist (http://maltactivist.com)


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