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Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask

Average score from 9 reviews and 15 ratings 88

Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask

Product details

  • Brand: Kavalan
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 57.3%

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Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask

One of two Solist releases received by the SAQ in September 2017

Kavalan Solist Bourbon: 58.6% abv. Cask#B111209009A

Nose: the nose is hot and pointy right from the gate. Apples, I get that weird copper note like on Glenfiddich. Pears, honey, sponge cake, creamy vanilla, a touch of bubblegum and gummy candies.

With water the sharpness of the nose becomes rounder, more honey and pastries.

Palate: Hot, creamy and sweet at once, the attack is pleasant. Coconut, beeswax, there are herbal touches floating in the middle, like fresh cut grass or plants then it extends into jujubes & grape gummies.

With water, sweet, kind of flat, honey, vanilla and more caramel, loads of waxiness

Grade: B+

This is pretty solid, I liked the Palate more than the nose.you can probably get this type of profile with many other readily available single malts.

@cricklewood It sound a bit like an unpeated Clynelish. That makes me curious...OH! $250! I will stay curious.

@Robert99, I sadly have yet to have any Clynelish, I know I bow my head in shame...

Stay curious, the action is with the Solist or high proof stuff in any case and you could get three bottles of Kilkerran and still have money left over for a beer at this admission price.


Cask no. B090916030A / Bottle no. 127/195 / ABV: 57.1%

Thanks to my brother, he purchased this bottle in a local market's clearance sale, and kindly left it to me. This bottle has been opened for about a month.

Nose: Hot and fruity. Coconuts, mango, honey, lemongrass and citrus.

Palate: Sweet and spicy, a bit harsh. Milk chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, pineapple, honey and lemon candy.

Finish: Coffee bean, white pepper, vanilla and oak.

Balance: Full flavored, obviously young and hot. There's a lot of tropical fruits and spices, the oak is dominating, not bad but too many edges for my liking.

Overall: It's a solid single cask, but a bit expensive for this young whisky and what it delivers, in my opinion Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask is more rounded the enjoyable. If you want a special Taiwanese bourbon cask whisky, TTL(Taiwan Tabacco & Liquor Corperation) Nantou Distillery Bourbon Cask Cask Strength is a delicious treat that worth seeking out, but it's only available in Taiwan now.


Cask: B080519045. Bottle #10/226

Was lucky enough to have some of this today in Zhengzhou, China. Apparently it's pricey and harder to get in the west.

Nose: Quite complex. Maple, dark berries, blackberries, blueberries.

Palate: More dark fruit, with some vanilla. Sweet at first with toffee and caramel accompanying the berries. Finish evolves into pepper and spice.

Body: full bodied, oily and creamy.

Overall: What a pleasant surprise from Taiwan of all places. Great whisky. Just try it. I know an NAS from Taiwan may put people off as it did me at first, but I'm so glad I tried this.


I sampled this price winning Taiwanese single malt with a bottle marked March 2013. Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask is only 3 years old. matured shortly because of the local climate and oak.

This has Wo hu cang long written all over it. Like a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this whisky is kicking it hard, with some complexity though. Young age doesn't show that much, Kavalan has character in aromas and taste.

Nose: The first whiff, without water, gives a strong and nice aroma of pine. Water and some time in the glass: vanilla and bananas take over. Toasted vanilla at first, then sugary. Some creamy coconut is present. Fruity and tropical, feels great.

Taste: Amazing, peppery and salty licorice starts the show. Quite quickly, turns to sugary and tropical. Very sprinkly, like a good gin and tonic. Berries in carbonated form and vanilla butter and toast. And no, not buttery thick, the vanilla butter is a diet version.

Finish: Long, oaky and peppery hot. When the hotness fades away, bananas with tropical fruits in a doughy form make the aftertaste.

Balance: Great dram! Weird to score a whisky so young so high.

@Rantavahti, thanks for your very nice review.

Kavalan is a solid brand, but, like all brands has some off batches and the occasional dud bottle. Where I live Kavalan is also on the expensive side, as well.

As for hot climate rapid whisky maturation, if I had my way, whisky would be made in every hot climate country on earth. That would be the easiest way to produce large amounts of top quality whisky in just a very few years. None of this waiting around for 20 years stuff. Culture does seem to be a big factor, though. Even though Mexico, for example, could easily make whisky, it doesn't seem to have any current impetus to do so, for, I expect, mostly cultural reasons.

Thank you @Victor. That plan would probably lower the prices as well so I'm for it! It's a shame how the prices are evolving higher and higher, restraining the exploration of the wonderful world of whisky.


Bottle 196/225 Cask BO80908025

Nose: Vanilla, dusty caster sugar, pineapple and coconut. Palate: Sweet, spicy, vanilla with an odd bitter note. It isn't like bitterness you can get from oak, it is a slightly synthetic in nature. Finish: Peppery and medium long.

One word...disappointing. I was not a huge fan of the concertmaster and again this is an odd bottle. Maybe it is created for the Asian market and palate. It is ok but just doesn't do it for me.

Solist Sherry or Solist Barrique would be the Kavalans I would choose. I feel similarly to you with respect to both Kavalan Concertmaster and Ex-Bourbon.


There have been numerous bottlings of the Solist on bourbon casks, all at cask strength. Mine has reference B080616095 and yielded 203 bottles at 57,8%.

The nose is rife with vanilla, coconut and overripe banana. It is fresh and dusty at the same time. Loads of icing sugar. Some drying oak. Very aromatic. With water, I get more oak, coconut milk and more vanilla. Mango too.

It is very spicy on mixed peppers, cinnamon and nutmeg. Hot! On its heels I get a bitter wave from the wood, that is balanced by sweet mango, coconut and pears. Icing sugar is back. Adding water makes is creamier and gives the impression of sipping a bourbon.

The finish starts of zesty, but dries while it fades. Coconot peel at the death.

Despite the young age (2 to 3 years, I believe), the wood has had quite an impact. But a flawless whisky. Rather bourbonny. Around 115 EUR.


Kavalan distillery is located in the northern part of Taiwan, 60 kilometres south of Taipei. It was built over an eight month period in 2005 and 2006 and uses copper stills that were constructed in Scotland. The distillery boasts an annual capacity of approx. 3.9 million litres. The name of 'Kavalan' is taken from a group of indigenous people who once lived in Yi-Lan County where the distillery is based. The Solist Bourbon Cask is a three-year old cask-strength whisky that was released in 2009.

The nose is rich and fresh at the same time: sweet vanilla and coconut are followed by heavy, nutty notes. With water there are more tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple and banana. This nose is young and fresh, and I like it!

The palate starts off being quite peppery and oaky, before again vanilla sweetness appears. Next, other fruits such as apples and pears come into play and help to alleviate the tannic bitterness a bit. With water the body becomes quite light, with some pepperiness remaining.

The finish is long, mouth coating and dry. I also got hints of vanilla and some woody element in the background.

As was the case with the other expressions from the Solist series I was impressed by the fact that this single malt is only three years old. While I very much enjoyed the nose, the oak is rather heavy given the whisky’s young age. This is certainly a good whisky but the tannic bitterness put me off a bit.


Kavalan, at long last I was able to taste Kavalan.

Now some are probably wondering just what in the hell is Kavalan.

Kavalan is a Taiwanese, no age statement single malt.

Several years ago when I was first starting to get really serious into whisky, I'd read about this legendary whisky, scoring liquid gold status, in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.

A whisky scoring 97 points, from a little distillery, King Car, that almost no one had ever heard of.

I managed to put my hands on some tasting notes and all I could think was "that sounds good, no that sounds AWESOME!"

So I started looking around, first locally, then nationally and finally around the world, trying to locate any of their bottles.

NO ONE had them. Not one single whisky store that I could locate had a bottle.

In fact about 99% of the liquor stores I contacted asked me what in the hell Kavalan was, and couldn't believe that some little distillery that they'd never heard of was making such massive waves in the whisky community.

The only place I could find that sold bottles was in fact from the King Car distillery in Taiwan, and there was no information if they'd ship internationally or not.

Even worse was there was no phone numbers to contact anyone by.

I start Googling and hunting down phone numbers for King Car distillery and ANYTHING that has a connection to Kavalan, or that might possibly link to Kavaln.

I then start calling these numbers, hoping that if anyone answers they'll speak English and be able to help me get my hands on Kavalan, any Kavalan.

I email, I call, I have issues calling internationally, calls go to lines that never existed, lines that no longer existed, people who don't speak English and finally I achieve success!

Someone who speaks English and knows about Kavalan.

However the news isn't good.

I'm informed that they're not currently exporting outside of Asia and have no plans to do so in the immediate future.

If I want a bottle I need to head to Asia, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

And while I'd love to visit Asia I have no plans to in the near future.

Over the last two years I have had friends head over to Asia and each time I hand them several hundred in cash with instructions to find me a bottle, any bottle of Kavalan and bring it back to me if possible.

Sadly they not being whisky geeks, they are unable to find any bottles of it.

Crap again!

Then a co worker, knowing I'm a whisky geek, informs me that one of the liquor stores we sell beer to has an awesome whisky selection and I should take a look.

I decide to follow them on Facebook and chat a couple of times with the owners, and they post whisky things that are of interest to me, but nothing that gets me panting.

I do alot of my own whisky importing so unlike so many people I know, it's no issue for me to go "I'll bring this in from America, or the United Kingdom, or where ever else the bottles may be if I want the bottle enough"

And that saves me ALOT of money as opposed to dealing with an extra couple layers from the source to me, each providing their own mark up.

And then about a week and a half ago as I'm sitting on Facebook I see something that makes me stop.


This liquor store is going to be doing a Kavalan tasting the following week.

Seven drams for $30 plus a light dinner.

I'm there!

I let all my whisky friends know and I book us spots and then it's just down to the waiting game.

The big day finally arrives so my wife and I grab a ride down to the liquor store in the cab, running late, stressing and excited, but we wind up making good time.

When we get into the liquor store it's very nice. Beautifully laid out with an excellent selection of whiskies at reasonable prices.


The tasting is held in a little Italian restaurant above the liquor store which is where we'll be having dinner after the tasting so myself, my wife, brother in law and sister in law grab a table and sit ourselves down, eager to get started.

Whiskies get poured from bottles that are roughly 200mls and very nice looking.

The gentleman who's running the tasting starts talking about the different whiskies, about how they got started importing Kavalan into the country (turns out he's one of business owners of the company) and about Whisky Live which sounds totally awesome and talks a little bit about each of the whiskies.

So we wind up trying a whole range of whiskies from Kavalan: King Car Conductor, Kavalan Concertmaster, Kavalan Single Malt, Kavalan Soloist ex Bourbon Cask Strength, Kavalan Soloist Sherry Cask Strength, and Kavalan Soloist Vinho Cask Strength.

Even more cool is that we're one of the first people in Western Australia to have a chance to try these whiskies!

The whiskies are excellent!

However I immediately encounter a problem.

At most of my whisky tastings I take notes on the whiskies, but between trying to focus on the speaker and even more the aromas of food coming out of the kitchen I'm having a very hard time tearing apart the whiskies.

The whiskies are excellent, but to tear the whiskies apart it's not the ideal environment.

Then we reach the cask strengths. Bourbon Cask, Sherry Cask and Vinho Cask.

Beautiful and even though I'm not able to tear them apart right there I know I'm going to be going home with a bottle of each.

After the tasting we all head back down to the liquor store where I grab a 196ml bottle of the three Kavalan cask strengths, running a wee bit over $200 AUS.

Tonight I decided to crack open the Bourbon cask.

Now the first thing you have to remember is that Kavalan is No Age Statements. That means they don't care about age. So none of this 12 yr old, 21 yr old, etc. It's about taste. It's also about climate. Whiskies in a tropical climate like Taiwan will age much quicker then a colder environment like Scotland.

So like I said I crack open my 196ml bottle open, and get ready to sit down to a lovely little evening.

I pour the whisky into my trusty little glencairn and get ready to savor a whisky that I've spent two years chasing down.

A lovely golden color with thick sexy legs that cling to the glass and then oh so slowly slide down into the liquid from which it came starts off the evening.

Can you see me grinning?

Time to nose!

Thick vanilla and coconut start off the nose which isn't too surprising considering the whisky has been aged in barrels that had preciously held bourbon.

The nose continues onto toasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg and then it gets really cool!

It goes tropical and super fruity!

Mangoes, pineapples, oranges, bananas, and lots of cream.

Wow that is awesome! I'd heard that they had some really tropical whiskies, but to be honest I'm not sure how much I believed it.

I believe now.

Time for a taste!

Wow, lovely, soft and sweet with the vanilla and the coconut immediately starting off the whisky, but oak, cinnamon, nutmeg and then hints of oranges.

A medium length drying finish with oak and vanilla finishes off this whisky, with the vanilla lingering.

All I can say is "SO WORTH THE WAIT!"

I paid something along the lines of $75 for 196mls of this whisky and I don't regret it. Pricey, sure, but I was sitting there thinking that once I had a chance to sit down and tear the whisky apart that I might wind up regretting the purchase, however two hours after finishing this whisky I'm still left grinning and thinking to myself "can't wait to tear apart the Sherry cask and Vinho casks.

That being said I'm REALLY hoping that this whisky will become more popular over here in the hopes that possibly the price might go down if it takes off.

If you get a chance to try a Kavalan cask strength, DO SO!!


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.

Mouth watering review. Nice to see some Kavalan reviews here, that's one of the main whiskies of my "Have to try from the Orient" list :)

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