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I'm planning on heading to the Kavalan distillery soon and I've decided to try their range in order to get a feel for the brand. Sadly this brand isn't readily available outside of Asia. Apparently they are currently working to widen their distribution, but no dice so far, sadly. Hopefully all you samplers of 'world' whiskies out there that will soon get a chance to try some of this stuff out. It's good.
I enjoyed the introductory releases from this distillery, but it's in the "Soloist" series that the brand has found its calling. Here's my take on the Soloist Ex-Bourbon, which has been given a second maturation in American white oak Port casks.
Nose: Fruity and sugary, like someone caramelized an entire basket of tropical fruit. Creamy and smooth, like vanilla icing atop a fruit cake. Loads of coconut and, oddly enough, pineapple. There are some bananas, vanilla, plum sugar, and hints of oak. Complex and very fragrant, with a heavy serving of sweet fruits. Very sweet. Very tropical. Very unique.
Palate: Banana, creamy vanilla, and coconut come on first. I have to say... this tastes a lot like a banana split with coconut sprinkles. In terms of texture, there's something fizzy about this. It's as though my tongue is under the impression I'm drinking a carbonated tonic. The finish presents us with pineapple once again, with lovely fresh oak, berry jam and lemon cough drops rounding it out.
From nose to finish, this whisky is quite different than your typical bourbon casked bottling. When I first tried this, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I have never encountered such a uniquely textured, tropical, and confident flavour profile that was neither peated nor sherried. It pairs candied fruit with a mouthfeel unlike any other whisky. It's fizzy like a soda, yet smooth and creamy. It's not perfectly balanced, but it's got such character...
Kavalan has distilled a definitively tropical range of whiskies. The Soloist Ex-Bourbon is certainly a member of this club, but it's not the tropical fruits that set it apart. It's the character. At cask strength, this whisky is big and bold. Now, big and bold are usually words that I'd use to describe a sherry bomb or an Islay offering. This is neither. It's all bourbon, but with that uniquely tropical Kavalan twist. It's extremely sweet, but it's not a 'dessert' dram. This dram is the main course.