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So I was visiting my local booze peddler a few weeks back. He's a grumpy old man who operates a tiny hole-in-the-wall store, yet somehow has managed to accumulate an astounding array of fine spirits which he sells at good prices. He already knows me well, and tends to like me, despite my limited Chinese and his non-existent English.
Upon walking in, he simply grunted towards the Kavalan section, a brand he knows I enjoy. The typical lineup was there, but then I noticed a purple box which I'd never seen before. To my surprise, it was a new release from Kavalan. Of course, I bought it immediately and dashed home with my new bottle and a fair amount of anticipation.
"Podium" was released just this year. It's unlike other Kavalan expressions in that absolutely no bourbon or sherry casks were used here. Simply new American oak casks and a few refill casks.
Nose: It's Kavalan's usual suspects; tropical fruit. Coconut, pear, mango, etc. There's also some chocolate, cereal, pepper, and cinnamon notes. Nice and complex, but nothing groundbreaking so far.
Palate: Oily texture. Some seriously spicy kick to it. White pepper for days. Fresh tobacco and leather. The arrival isn't particularly complex, but I am loving the oily, velvety mouthfeel. As we move toward the finish we get more fruity.
Finish: As the finish begins (or the beginning finishes?} I get a bit of sweet barbecue sauce. The pepper continues, now we detect some cherry and dried mango and the slightest hint of wood. Leather. Cinnamon again. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's some notes here that remind me of sweet Cajun barbecue. It's a long, fruity, spicy finish with good complexity.
Overall, it's not their strongest release. It's like the Vinho expression in that it's a spice attack, but unlike the Vinho, the spice remains prominent through to the finish. It's a strong finish and a nice texture. But I feel the white pepper dominates the arrival and I can't truly appreciate this dram's complexity until the finish comes along.
This dram seems to be in limbo between the Single Malt release and the Vinho release. The nose is tropical, like the Single Malt. Then, it has a spicy palate and a strong finish, as in the Vinho.
I got really excited when I saw that fresh American oak casks were used to mature this. Sadly, those wood notes were not nearly as present as I'd hoped. Anyway, it may not be groundbreaking, but it's still a solid dram. Here's hoping their next release will bring something new to the table. A new Soloist release, perhaps???