This is the 13th release I’ve tried from the Solist series. Solist, if you’ve not been acquainted, is the cask strength, single cask range from Taiwan’s Kavalan distillery. As with any single cask releases, we’re bound to find a mix of diamonds and coal. I’ve tried a few of these young malts that soared well into the 90s (in my opinion anyway), and I’ve also tried a couple sulphured sherried ones that were almost grotesque caricatures. Typically though, I’ve found the sherry cask matured Solist usually outshines the ex-bourbon. But we’re not looking at the sherried version today.
This release, tasted with the Liquorature club a few months back, was a very pleasant surprise. It’s big on tangy fruits and leans much more toward the sweet camp than the spices that have dominated some of the other editions I’ve tried. The distillery’s sub-tropical setting allows for a lot of oak expansion – molecular spread in the barrels, if you will – permitting the spirit to pull from deep within the tight oak grain. Hence the reason these malts mature so quickly, and with such big flavour.
On the plus side of things…this is hell of a whisky, mature beyond it’s short life in wood (maybe 5 years?). On the down side…no age statement. C’mon, Kavalan. We know it’s young. How ’bout telling us just how young?
Typical of these cask strength limited runs, this one came out at a shockingly low outturn. Hefty angel’s share in this warm environment. Only 187 bottles hit the markets after all was said and done.
Nose: Sweet and fruity. Soft caramel notes (surprising for a nearly 60%er). Like all Kavalan, smells mature beyond its years. Gummy candies. Maybe some Roman Nougat. Toasted marchmallow. Red Dino-sours. Gorgeous soft spices. More on nutmeg than cinnamon. Definitely a big bourbon influence from either some lively wood or just a very humid environment leading to cask breathing.
Palate: A huge amount of fruit again. Red fruits, juicy and sweet. Loving the sweet barley notes that shine through. Bigger spice here now. Like sugar cookies on steroids. More bourbon notes, by way of cinnamon and synthetic cherry. Loud oaky background. Oily. Great long finish.
Thoughts: Unquestionably a 90 point malt. Absolutely mouthwatering.
– Images & Words: Curt