Kavalan Solist 2009-2016, Port Cask, Cask Strength
Price per bottle: °°°°°
Cask type: Port Wine Cask (# O090619021A, 158 btl.)
Colour: Reddish mahogany.
Nose: On the nose, ripe plum, sweet plum compote, dark berries, and cherries soaked in port wine. Very concentrated and sweet. Behind that sweet curtain dark chocolate, cinnamon and a whiff of oak emerge, followed by a slightly bitter touch of liquorice. Very aromatic but also somehow artificial at the same time. This, however, seems to be typical for some of these Taiwanese single malts.
Palate: Bold and very sweet on the palate with lots of stewed plums, dark berries, and cherries, all covered with sweet port wine. This is complemented by a warming spiciness of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, oak and a slightly alcoholic bite. Becomes creamy and mouth-coating with a touch of bitter liquorice towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is long, warm, sweet and creamy with sticky dark fruit jam, chocolate, combined with bitter notes of oak and liquorice on the tail.
With water: Water significantly tames the bold fruitiness and sweetness of this single malt, bringing more bitter notes of oak and liquorice to the fore. Still sweet and fruity on the palate with only a slightly warming spiciness. Becomes very dry towards the finish with oak, nutmeg and tannins. The finish is long, warm and creamy with a bitter touch of walnuts and dry oak.
Comments: Another interesting and appealing dram from Taiwan! Very sweet and fruity, almost too much for my palate. To me, this bottling lacks a bit of complexity with overpowering port wine derived flavours. Nonetheless, quite palatable neat. A real dessert dram!
I thank Marko Kiele for the photograph!
Kavalan Solist 2009-2015, Vinho Barrique, Cask Strength
Price per bottle: °°°°°
Cask type: Vinho Barrique (# WO090327045A, 191 btl.)
Nose: Quite thick and sweet plum compote, very concentrated. Sweet dark cherries and dried fruits lovely mixed with cinnamon and a hint of vanilla. Subtle oak and dark chocolate in the back. A captivating smell!
Palate: Strong and very sweet on the palate with lots of plums, dark berries, dried fruits and cherries, nicely complemented by a slightly warming spiciness of oak, cinnamon, tender cloves and subtle pepper. A touch of bitter notes of orange peel and dark chocolate towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is medium to long and sticky sweet with plum jam. Dry notes of spiced oak, dark bitter chocolate and espresso with a touch of astringent tannins on the tail.
With water: There's almost no change on the nose by adding a few drops of water. Sweet and sticky fruity. Stays also sweet on the palate, however, water significantly enhances the dryness with oak, tannins and espresso notes, pushing the lovely fruitiness in the background. The finish is short to medium, slightly warm and sticky sweet with plum jam and sweet dried fruits. The dry and bitter notes on the tail are slightly tamed.
Comments: Very interesting and appealing dram! Rather complex for its young age, full of sticky, (over)ripe dark fruits, mainly plums. Good balance of fruitiness, sweetness and oaky spiciness. Quite quaffable neat. But that whisky also tolerates water to cut some bitter edges.
Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask, Cask Strength
Price per bottle: °°°
Cask type: Peaty Cask (# R070409010, 104 btl.)
Nose: Very romatic on the nose with lots of tropical fruit - mango, apricot, overripe banana and melon. Rum-like flavours, along with subtle peat smoke and notes of smoked ham. Somewhat herbal, reminds me of cough syrup and wild cherries. Oriental notes of sandalwood and subtle wood glue in the back.
Palate: Strong and intense on the palate with a significantly warming spiciness of oak, cracked black pepper, cloves and allspice, alongside gentle smoke and a whiff of peat. Oily with tender fruitiness of mango, apricot, melon, and hints of beeswax. This is followed by sweet notes of caramel, subtle floral hints and leather towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is long and lingering sweet with gentle smoke from a smoldering wood fire. Creamy notes of vanilla and toffee nicely linger with hints of honey, beeswax, melon, mango and slightly bitter spiced oak on the tail.
With water: Lively and prickling on the nose with a splash of water. There's more fruitiness coming through with redcurrant, cinnamon coated plums and vanilla. Hints of spiced oak and a whiff of smoke in the back. Slightly more fruit on the palate, accompanied by lovely sweet notes of vanilla and caramel. The hot spiciness is significantly tamed with water, with creamy notes of mango and acacia honey towards the finish. The finish is long, sweet and fruity with redcurrant, sticky acacia honey and tender wood smoke on the tail.
Comments: The sub-tropical fruity signature of Kavalan interwoven with the peaty, smoky and briny character of Islay. A successful and very satisfying experiment with an incredibly gorgeous nose! A bit hot and less fruity on the palate when unreduced - but creamy, sweet and gentle smoky when water is added. A lovely and unique supplement of Kavalan's core range. Well deserved!
I thank King Car Germany for sample and photograph (displays a bottle with a slightly different cask-No.)!