Kavalan Solist – Vinho Barrique & Sherry Cask Reviews

Kavalan Solist – Vinho Barrique, 57% ABV, Bottled 4/25 2013, £35 (196ml)

  • Nose: Sweet bourbon-like caramel and rum-like sweetness, raspberry, strawberry, oranges, stale fruit candy (like expired wine gums), coco powder, oak spice, and buttered popcorn.
  • Taste: Heavy plums and raisins, fruit cake, ripe banana, mild leather and cinnamon.
  • Finish: Long, well balanced, high viscosity.
  • Thoughts: A heavy hitting whisky with lots going on. Extremely good, and an education on what warm-climate maturation can do. Great complexity, a little goes a long way, and you discover a little more each time you try it. A drop of water intensifies the leather and coco notes, but I prefer without.
  • Score: 89.5 + 0 value point(s) = 89.5/100

Kavalan Solist – Sherry Cask, 58.7% ABV, Bottled 8/27 2012, £35 (196ml)

  • Nose: Extremely bold and juicy sherry, raisins, plums, strawberry jam, unlit clove cigarettes, some vanilla, a faint floral note, and a subtle maple syrup in the background.
  • Taste: Heavy sherry, raisins and plums again, remember those Gushers gummy fruit candies? I get a ton of that. Some fudge, a mild Coffee Crisp like chocolate, and some cinnamon.
  • Finish: Very Long, well balanced, high viscosity.
  • Thoughts: A pure sherry bomb! You can tell there has been some very careful cask selection in the maturation. The sherry cask fits my profile very well, really really enjoying this. Water brings out some more spices.
  • Score: 90.5 + 0 value point(s) = 90.5/100

Overall Thoughts:

Natural colour, non-chill filtered, and cask strength; both expressions are simply amazing, but I like the Sherry Cask just that little bit more. With ABV’s approaching 60% they are hot, but very approachable, I didn’t feel the need to add water although it did mellow the heat. Long drawn-out finishes, big bold flavour, and great complexity are what I value most in whisky and these expressions delivered.
I purchased the sample bottles from an UK auction. £35/196ml = ~£125 for a full 700ml bottle and I would be satisfied paying that.

About my reviews:

I score spirits based on smell, taste, finish, balance, complexity, and value. After my initial score I will add or subtract points based on how I perceive value (based on what I paid for the bottle). A zero value means I think the price is justified.


0-69.5 – Don’t bother trying, life is too short for bad spirit.
70-79.5 – Worth trying, but you’re not missing out if you don’t.
80-84.5 – I recommend trying.
85-87.5 – Definitely try this!
88-92.5 – I recommend buying a bottle blind!
93-95.5 – Stuff you reserve for special pours!
96+ – The meaning of life.

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