Let’s head East again for another great ‘world whisky’. Namely, Kavalan’s Solist Vinho Barrique.
The Solist releases, as we’ve covered in past reviews, are the Taiwanese distillery’s massive, limited run, cask strength offerings. This particular Solist expression was matured in American oak ex-wine barrels. According to Kavalan, these barrels held both red and white wines for a little extra added complexity.
First things first…while I may only be a moderate Kavalan fan in general, I am definitely a HUGE fan of the distillery’s Solist series. These strong and youthful whiskies are so deeply marbled with flavour and nuance that it’s honestly difficult not to get lost in the experience every time I pour one. This isn’t hyperbole. The Solists are malts to be slowly savoured. The depth of character and utterly unique profile are worth complete attention and focus.
This Vinho, being a variation on a theme, was a welcome addition to the range. I’ve tried a handful of the Solist sherry releases, a couple of the bourbon ones and one of the Fino. All I can say is…man…I truly recommend getting out there and trying this stuff. This particular bottling bears all the hallmarks of Kavalan’s now-familiar profile: exotic spice, rich woods, dark fruits and a surprising maturity. What the wine cask influence brings to this one is open to debate (being nowhere near as ‘wine-y’ as I had expected), but I can certainly say that the sum total is dead on for my liking.
Great whisky. Somewhat expensive. Worth every penny.
Nose: Deep, wet woods. Aged rum. Damp oiled leather. Dark chocolate. Cherries, plums and purple grapes. Dark…almost burnt…vanilla. Uber rich. Some very mature notes on here, which are surprising considering the relative youth of this one (I’ll be pickled if it’s older than 5-7 years). Reminds of some sort of Asian sauce. Great waves of spice. May be just a touch of smoke too. Way less wine influence than I’d expected.
Palate: Tart and tangy. Juicy and mouth-watering. Viscous, like a rich sauce. Dark fruits and somewhat jammy (plum). Slightly over-oaked, I’d say, but it somehow sorta compliments the over-the-top enormity of this one. Sourness here too that is quite enjoyable. Touch of varnish.
Thoughts: This was a slightly polarizing one locally, but I loved it. Something struck a chord here. I’ll be honest and concede the palate is a little rockier than the nose, but it works for my own biases.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt