I do not know about you, but I was suddenly in the mood to re-visit whisky from Taiwanese distillery Kavalan. In particular I wanted to try the three cask strength releases again, the Solist series. These are single cask releases, and they are young – typically 3-5 years old.
You can tell how old these whiskies are by deciphering the cask number and finding the bottling date stamp. The cask number starts off by a letter specifying the type of cask (W = Wine, B = Bourbon, S = Sherry). This is followed by nine numbers, where the distilled date is given by the first six (YYMMDD). So the cask number S100303011A is a sherry cask, filled on March 3, 2010.
The bottling date is stamped on the back of the bottle. This can be a bit hard to read, as it is printed in white. Here’s an example for a bottle that was filled on September 18, 2015:
Time to move on to the whiskies themselves.
Kavalan Solist Bourbon Cask #B100825022A, 4 YO, 58,6 %
Nose (24/25): My, oh my! This is soooo well made! Such an incredibly well-integrated liquid after such a short time. You can bury your nose in the glass, with no chance of a burn whatsoever. Bourbon and lovely oak influence all the way. Truly refined. Marshmallows, vanilla sticks, candy store, coconut milk, a light touch of oak and traces of candle wax.
Taste (22/25): Rich mouthfeel. Light spices, ginger, camphor and mild oakiness.
Finish (22/25): Medium to long finish. Light mint, mango, coconut, vanilla.
Balance (23/25): Wow, what a lovely bourbon matured whisky. I just love it.
Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask #S100303011A, 5 YO, 57,1 %
Distilled on 2010-03-03 and bottled on 2015-10-02, this makes for one of the oldest Kavalan whiskies I have tasted – at well over 5 years old! The total outturn was 518 bottles, which does indicate that we are talking about a sherry butt.
Nose (23/25): Super rich fruit dessert bathing in an extravagant sherry marinade, with nuts sprinkled on top. Serve this with home-made caramel pudding and raisins and you have yourself a meal!
Taste (21/25): Full and warm. Slightly fizzy mouthfeel. It has a soft burnt edge to it. Dark chocolate, dark and ominous red berries – the kind of berries you would not want to meet in a dark alley late at night… Eh, got sidetracked there. A bit oaky, in fact. A touch too much perhaps?
Finish (21/25): Dry-ish and warm. Long finish. Dark chocolate and still bordering on a little too oaky for my taste.
Balance (22/25): Another great dram, but a bit too heavy on the oak influence. Five years, is that close to too old for the climate in Taiwan?!
Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique #W120217023A, 3 YO, 58,6 %
Nose (23/25): Again rich nose. Grapes, milk chocolate, vanilla, and soft sugary notes. Some fruitiness, but it is subdued. This whisky strikes me as both light and dark at the same time. Hmm…
Taste (22/25): Rich, warm and dark. Sugary sweet and thick as syrup – only it’s not really that thick…do you follow? Chocolate here as well. A touch dry perhaps.
Finish (24/25): Wow! The dryness suddenly releases its grip and all is bliss! Delightful and soft sweetness. Sugary. Demerara sugar, rich red berries, grapes, and mild caramel.
Balance (23/25): Great nose, good on the palate and a finish to die for! This was by far the best of the line-up, and the line-up was great!