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Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask

Sticky Date Cakes and Lamb Prosciutto

2 2690

@cricklewoodReview by @cricklewood

26th Sep 2017

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    90

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The last of a fearsome foursome of Kavalan Whisky tasted in-store. It was a mixed bag I was hoping this one would confirm the hype. A longer blabby version is on my blog.

Kavalan Solist Sherry cask: 59.4% abv. Cask# S081224022

Nose: Coffee, dates, burnt chicory, Alpine bitters. Cooked grape must, slight balsamic edge, all things umami and it's sharp. This isn't a Christmas spice type sherry, it's a dirty big bodied sherry. After a while there is dry cured ham and pepper.

Water brings sulfur forward on the nose, more coffee, wet wool. Lots of meatyness, the nose is big and really pleasant.

Palate: Oh! ok...Sweetened coffee left out on counter overnight, date purée, ginger, gunpowder, an almost metallic, plastic note. It's very much on tannic, oversteeped teas, stewed prunes. There is more traditional spices in the mouth, nutmeg and allspice. Very dark and extractive.

Palate with water is very thin, dates, plasticine, light roast coffees. Really all on chewy dates, spices and cake batter, you get more or that oxydized sherry nuttiness.

The sherry lingers a long time. It's big stuff, maybe even a little tiring in a way.

Grade: A 

The cask strength along with the extractive nature of high temperature maturing certainly creates a potent delivery

The Blab: Clearly the Solist editions are the ones to look out for. While that sherry cask haunted me for a couple of days, I'm not sure what I think about these whiskies, it seems that the casks (or the previous contents) are perhaps doing most of the heavy lifting. Oh and yes the price...just saying.

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26 comments

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Nice descriptions, especially in this review (as usual for you)

Currently nothing by Kavalan is listed here. If it were I'm sure it would be out of my price range...

about one year ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Nozinan I had a taste of this a few months ago. A lovely, viscous sherry bomb. It cost my friend something over $300 and quite a circuitous route, a brother in law and a friend to get it here from Washington State. No listings for any Kavalans in BC either.

about one year ago 0

@Frost
Frost commented

@cricklewood good review !

I've tried it three times, from three different bottles, and while there is batch variation going on it's a real treat for sherry bomb fans.

I didn't get any sulphur.

about one year ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Agreed that this is a Sherry a-bomb albeit that thick, meaty, beef broth Sherry. This one craves water!

about one year ago 0

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

Again, everyone disagrees with me. I enjoyed the Solist Bourbon Cask MORE than the sherry cask. Both are excellent though. Great review.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Nozinan Thank you for the kind words, Thus far all of them are out of my price range as well, especially at SAQ prices. The new crop of Solist casks (Manzanilla, PX etc..) are fetching upwards of 400$ at most retailers unamused

Best for a bottle split or club purchase I guess.

about one year ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

Yes not the usual sherry bomb, it's very deep and meaty along with the dried fruits, the kind of sherried profile I really enjoy. Yet I wonder about these whiskys, there is a reason why the solist casks get all the glory and everyone is kind of lukewarm about the remainder of their line-up.

It's all bold flavours, and cask extraction, albeit really good cask extraction, the low abv releases aren't all that exciting or unique.

about one year ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@casualtorture maybe you are wrong...just kidding.

I think the sherry has more of that instant gratification factor, especially for those sherry bomb starved masses.

I quite liked the bourbon and I think with more time or multiple pours I might have given it a higher score than I did.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@casualtorture In my experience (this was with AMRUT single casks) on first tasting the clean sherry has bolder flavours, but I found months later upon opening and enjoying my bourbon cask a greater degree of complexity than I had originally noted at the masterclass.

The context is important. The Masterclass was in 2014. The bottles went on sale at a reduced price, I believe, 14 months later. So my palate may have matured, and my memories dimmed (though I took notes). Also, I was only able to get 2 sherry cask bottles, and I managed quite a few of the bourbon casks' bottles, so I only opened a bourbon cask bottle. it's quite possible on not so sober reflection the sherry cask ones will be as complex and delicious as I remember.

about one year ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@cricklewood Thanks for another fantastic review. I am amaze with your ability to pick such precise note from a tasting in a store. The palate seems more to my liking than the nose, being very sensitive to bitterness even if I don't like it too sweet. I am not sure about the burnt chicory and the Alpine bitter and, of course, the plastic is a big no for me. On the other hand, I understand that the pros are not too subtile (read: in your face style) and that they easily overcome the cons. Am I right?

I am also wondering if that was a special event and how you learned about it if it was?

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Georgy
Georgy commented

Nice review! It really brought back all those memories. I really enjoyed it, but I thought I'd never buy a whole bottle of it, since it's way too overpowering for a sherry monster. An occasional dram in a bar - yes, sir! A whole bottle for the price it is currently sold at - thanks, but no thanks. This Solist is THE monster of sherry monsters.

about one year ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Robert99 Thanks for the kind words, I have to say the "new" (it's supposed to be temporary) location for tastings is more spacious than the previous "signature" location. It makes for a more relaxed experience you can kind of wedge yourself in a corner or walk around, heck they even serve small bites, cheese, etc.

When I go alone, I tend to be a big nerd and take a long time, take notes on my phone and such. During the Kavalan tasting, the employee serving seemed to have taken a shine to me, by the third whisky she commented "I seem to be giving you bigger pours than everyone else", I gave her my best smile. Wait for my Kilchoman tasting notes, they aren't nearly as good tired_face

This is definitely in your face whisky, bold flavors, although there are some subtleties, the burnt chicory/alpine bulls"$!t wink note was a kind of vegetal bitterness, like a cross between génépi and earthy roasted chicory it wasn't the dominant smell.

Same with palate, these whiskys are like so concentrated that things come in waves, it was all coffee and dates and then suddenly sharp and hot, then next sip it's spicy and round with a slight plasticine thing then back to sweet. A fun ride, one to bring out to compare to other drams, or to contemplate over the flavors a long while with friends.

There is a monthly pdf listing the in-store events, I'll send you a message with the details.

about one year ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Georgy Do you think it out-monsters A'Bunadh and 105? I thought it was a bit sweeter than either of those and at least as big a sherry monster.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@BlueNote Back in (I think) 2014 Kavalan was at Spirit of Toronto. I seem to recall the Solist Bourbon cask was my favourite and I didn't feel the Sherry cask was as in my face as A'Bunadh.

105, I have only had from a mini, and it was a little hot. I hear it takes water well and opens up with air.

about one year ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@BlueNote Exactly! I remember it tasting much sweeter! I've checked my tasting notes and there is one problem I had with it = too tannic. It had a lot of tannins to it. That's why I thought it was imbalanced and scored it 85/100

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, yes, it was the 2014 Spirit of Toronto at which Kavalan had a table. I camped out there and sampled 5 of the 6 they offered. I missed the King Car Conductor, because by the time I got around to it, it had all been poured out. I've had it since and consider it only OK, and overpriced for what you get. The Solist Sherry was my favourite, followed closely by the Solist Barrique. Those are the only two of Kavalan's which I would consider buying, especially at their rather high prices. I would like to try Solist Sherry (and Solist Barrique) again, since it has been 3 years now since I tasted them. The Solist Sherry I had that day I liked as well as the best batches of A'bunadh. I don't recall anything like sulphur present, and heavy tannins would have been something I would have remembered and been annoyed by also. What no one is saying here is that there has apparently been a good deal of variation among the Solist Sherry Cask releases. I remember @tjb I think it was, got one which he didn't like at all. It is entirely possible, even probable in my opinion, that you are ALL accurate in your observations about Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Victor I think you are exactly right, in my more blabby version of my review on the blog I mention my concerns with such batch variance in the Solist releases.

There is going to be some similarities due to the conditions of maturation and the spirit used, otherwise it's all completely random. The fact that they get to cherry pick the barrels used for competitions and reviews and then just drop whatever quality you want on the rest of the market, while everyone is whipped into a frenzy over what they have read about the product.

I love single barrel releases and understand and embrace the variances that can come from such offers but when all a provider has is variance/uncertainty and charge a premium for that it is a bit vexing

Ok it's only whisky so I'm not going to have a rupture or anything stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

about one year ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@BlueNote It's different from A'bunadh and 105, I actually had a dram of A'bunadh at home after the tasting session and remarked how it was something completely different, the alcohol is more present on the palate, the oak is woody more than tannic.

The Kavalan is sweeter and more concentrated, it's like Sherry monster Syrup in a way.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@cricklewood, yes, it's only whisky, but you are absolutely right that we are talking $ 150+ for the price of a bottle of Kavalan Solist, which you may decide afterwards that you do not much like. This sort of thing, viz. "off" bottles and batches, happens frequently in this business, much more frequently than whisky lovers would wish that it does and much more frequently than most whisky lovers would like to think that it does. It is a bigger risk at higher prices. And most prices in the whisky world are no longer cheap.

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

"Sherry monster syrup" sounds like Macallan Cask Strength. And yes, I like that thick, thick, thick, effect. You get that with the best cask strength Mortlachs, too.

about one year ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@cricklewood I've only ever had one small pour of this buried among several other pours at a tasting, so I really don't have enough experience of it to judge. I would really like to have another opportunity to try this one without taking a chance on an expensive full bottle buy as reviews here seem somewhat mixed.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor That's why try em if you can before you buy em is so important. For a $60 malt it's a mistake that will last in your cabinet for a few years. For $150+ it's a mistake that prevents you from buying something nice.

about one year ago 0

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

@Nozinan one thing I did was add a splash of water to the sherry cask because I felt it needed it. I didn't feel like the bourbon cask needed water.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@casualtorture Such details are not listed in my notes from 2014 but I suspect there was no water.

about one year ago 0

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