Best served: Neat, with water
Likes: Dense sherry bomb with dryness
Dislikes: Over the top at times, has its place
Price: £106 (UK)
The Kavalan Sherry Cask is exceptional and epitomizes the brilliant work of this Taiwanese distillery. I have tasted and rated hundreds of whiskies and spirits, and this whisky is the second to receive full marks (six stars). As you can see from my blog, only a handful of whiskies are given five stars or more (and I usually only review in detail whiskies I thoroughly enjoy). What I particularly love about this whisky is its richness that permeates high quality sherry and a maturity that only the Taiwanese climate can produce!
The Kavalan whisky distillery clearly adopts the orchestra theme for its products. In line with this theme, this whisky is like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee. It offers piercing sweetness that is balanced with the deep bellow of bitterness, as its diverse flavours zig zag harmoniously and in almost perfect synchronization to deliver a beautifully balanced symphony of flavours. Delightful! Much like the world class solist reaching heavenly heights and solid lows, the Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask offers a powerful performance with diversity and versatility. While sipping it I was tempted to give the bottle a standing ovation!
The Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask is bottled at cask strength (58.7% alcohol volume) after being distilled and matured in Taiwan. Built in 2005 the Kavalan distillery is quite young, but despite its youth it has made a grand splash in the whisky world and is now (according to many) a world leader in whisky making.
|Blind tasting: Kavalan Sherry Cask & OveReem Sherry Cask|
Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask whisky was awarded a “double gold” medal at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so it is good to know that my appreciation for this whisky is shared! I blind tasted the Kavalan Sherry Cask alongside the OveReem Sherry Cask as a benchmark. This was indeed a blind tasting, done with blindfold and each whisky delivered! Such a lucky bloke I am! There was a big difference between the two, but I was at pains deciding which I preferred. In the end, after almost 30 minutes, I decided on the Kavalan because it was denser with more silky smoothness and it carried itself with a lot of “age”.
The success of the Kavalan distillery can be attributed to many things, but a few very important factors that shine through in its products are exceptionally skilled distilling, the use of superb quality casks and the maturity of the whisky which is owed to the warm and humid climate in Taiwan that accelerates the maturation of whisky. Although warm climates make whisky evaporate at a high rate meaning more of it is lost than in cooler climates like Scotland, the warmth also dilates the pores in the oak casks which results in increased interaction with the spirit in the cask. This in turn lets the spirit suck out more flavour and character from the oak.
Tasting Notes – Kavalan Sherry Cask
As I open the bottle the waft of exceptionally high quality sherry perfumes the air with the fragrance of sweet moscato grapes and ripe red plum weaving around bitter cherries and a rich chocolate fudge. The sweetness is encased in a dense fog of bitter oak and dark chocolate as the whiff of prune and licorice add further depth with green banana and dry red wine adding dryness. This is like a dense dark chocolate cake layered with vanilla, shavings of coconut and soaked with a lovely old rum. Sparks of tang also delight, with cherry tomatoes and a fizz that presents all this character with a certain charm.
The texture on this whisky is luscious and oily.
This whisky is highly distinctive, with an impeccable balance that allows an abundance of different flavours to harmoniously delight the palate without any particular flavour dominating. The bitterness of the oak moderates the sherry that follows it, only to return in the form of dark chocolate and cocoa while a dense sharpness such as old balsamic tingles. All the while the whisky explodes on the palate as its flavours burst like fireworks. This whisky has such a delightful abundance of flavours, but like an world leading orchestra all its components can be heard as they all contribute to a brilliant performance.
The finish on this whisky is long and very enjoyable. It lingers on the tongue for a very long time, and I am glad it does!