My good friend was visiting his home in Taiwan this January for Lunar New Year and I asked if he would bring me back a Vinho Barrique if he found the time to get one. Well luckily he did, and even got a 1 Liter bottle of it so this should (in theory) last for a while. Thanks Hao Chu!
Kavalan Vinho Barrique is not only a fancy sounding whisky, but it won World's Best Single Malt at the 2015 World Whisky Awards. Now each one of these is single cask, so I highly doubt that I have the award winner here. A quick Google search revealed that "To mature their Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique expression, the King Car distillers in Taiwan use (American White Oak) casks which have held both red and white wines, before being re-toasted."
Cask W140108080A Bottle #101/141 57.8% abv Bottle opened about 3 months and 90% full. Neat in a Glencairn.
Nose: Intense red, purple and black fruits. A hint of oaked chardonnay. A lot going on and I'll try to nail down some specific fruits. Salted dried plum, black grapes, white grapes (but not red grapes). All manner of berries. Red ones, blue ones, black ones. Pick your berry it's there and all wrapped in vanilla and oak. I'm surprised how much oak there is behind all the fruit and vanilla. With the other 2 Kavalans I've tried (Solist Sherry and Solist Bourbon), there was not this much complexity or oak. This is intense, fruity, complex and well balanced. The chardonnay note really helps balance the intense dark fruits.
Palate: Again the word is intense. More salted dried plums, and just haymakers of dark, dark grapes and berries. The chardonnay note is still there but very much in the background. Less oaky than the nose. The nose was an attack from all manner of fruity, oaky angles while the palate is just a dark fruit onslaught. Red fruits, black fruits, purple fruits. Every dark colored fruit you can think of is probably here. It's rich too. Not quite port cask rich but getting up there.
Finish: Finish is long and quite sweet. Not as oaky as the nose or palate. I get a very healthy dose of chocolate on the finish which makes me want to go back and see why I didn't get that on the nose or palate.
Overall: This glass of whisky could be examined forever. Intense, complex, dark and fruity. Deserving of the awards it's achieved and if my friend is willing, I'll get another one next year.