Kavalan Solist Bourbon Review

Kavalan Solist Bourbon

Cask #B070604058

58.2% abv

Score:  86.5/100


No hiding anything here.  Just a nice clean straight forward whisky at a decent state of maturity, and served up at a belting cask strength.  Sounds just about right, no?

Here we have another of the Solist releases by Kavalan, served up this time from an ex-bourbon barrel.  This series has served up some very distinct and vibrant malts and this particular expression is simply a variation on a theme.  While more often than not I tend to gravitate towards the more robust notes found in some of the others in the range, I still find this cleaner and lighter approach refreshing from time to time.   

I concede a certain preconconception has wedged itself in the corner of my mind that the Kavalan profile is more closely associated with boldly flying the flag of deep tangy sherries and a rainbow of interesting spices.  That’s based solely on my own mental blocks however and in no way reflective of any distillery limitations.  The only problem is…that’s where the distillery truly excels.  Stripped down to this more bare-bones presentation the whisky is slightly tame, if still of high quality.

Anyway…here we have a whisky that certainly carries a spicy zing, but being bourbon cask-matured, lacks the deep redolent jammy fruits we find in some of the other Kavalans.  Instead we get a lovely toastiness here and a vanilla-led charge.  Very typical of bourbon maturation of course.

While by no means the quintessential expression from this Taiwanese rising star, this is definitely a dram worth some contemplation.  For those so inclined…expect to pay for the privilege.  The prices are a little…errr…’elevated’ in my estimation.  Such is, though.  There’s a price to be paid to drink well.

Nose:  Clean and floral.  Vanilla and oak are driving here.  Orange and cream…vanilla and cream…banana and cream.  Toasted marshmallow.  Some polish and sunlit meadow.  Maybe even a touch of apple and cinnamon.  Ribbon candy.  I keep coming back to orange creamsicle.

Palate:  Oak, apple and vanilla.  Orange.  Thick and oily.  Citrus pith (sour and drying).  Bitter dark chocolate (surprisingly).  Quite a long finish for something so ‘straight edge’.  Clean and pure, but…boring.

Add a point for purity and such a clean, crisp spirit…deduct a point for a rather milktoast performance from a distillery that can, and should, absolutely sparkle.  Comes out even.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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