I remember the weekend of September 28th and 29th, 2018 like it was yesterday. I had the absolute pleasure of attending the very first Banff Whisky Experience in Banff, AB . The days were filled with amazing master classes and the evenings each hosted a grand tasting with 77 distilleries and a plethora or drams represented. After an amazing Friday evening and night out in Banff with some of the grandest whisky personalities, soon came a late Saturday morning rise for myself. I am sure we can all relate to those nights when the morning had somehow slipped away, and well… waking at 11 AM, freaked out and realizing my first master class for the day was about to start at noon!! I did what I do best and that’s pulling myself together, looking like I had all the beauty sleep in the world, haha. Might have learned a trick or two about that over the years (yay for concealer !) .
My first class that day was called “KAVALAN – The Single Malt from the other side of the world – being presented by the late and great J. Wheelock. God bless his soul! As I settled into my seat and started gazing over a beautiful tasting mat of 8 whiskies, I quickly noticed the majority of them were Kavalan single malts from Taiwan. The theme of the class was essentially de bunking non age statements whisky (N.A.S.) and to say the least, I was all ears!
Sitting before me along side the Kavalan spread was a large bar of dark chocolate bar and seeing that I kind of slept though breakfast, I was salivating at the idea of hammering it back. As noon swept across the clock though, and Jay’s introduction commenced the tasting, my eyes were quickly focused on the whisky in front of me. And then it happened… upon my first sip of this rich, deluxe, beautiful, viscous, and tropical whisky, I was sold! It was love at first sip.
Kavalan is known to have one of the most comprehensive lines and offering of Sherry Whiskies , however there are a few that were matured in alternate ways. Kavalan “Solist” Ex Bourbon Oak is a cask strength whisky that was fully matured in fresh hand picked ex-bourbon oak Barrels by Kavalan’s master distiller, Ian Chang at the time.
Whisky romance 101: I am not sure about you, but when I am drinking a high end Whisky such as Kavalan – you better believe I am taking my time with it. I am not afraid to say I love drinking whisky alone because it gives me some real one on one time to enjoy and unpack all it has to offer. A whisky date!, as I like to refer to it.
Tasting and Reviewing the Whisky
Upon pouring this whisky into a proper whisky drinking glass (in my case a copita), I see a bright shiny, viscous, and oily whisky that has legs for days, coating the glass and presenting a color that’s described by the distillery as “Cattle Egret” which is a Melanesian bird that dawns a beautiful golden colouring downs its neck and wings. The oily residue on the glass reminds moves around reflecting the light reminding me of a kaleidoscope… I am now extremely intrigued.
Lush tropical fruits, floral frangipani, blooming Jasmine mist and young coconut cream . One the second nosing I get kiwi, melon, green apple, with oak and vanilla.
The texture is rich, smooth and silky. I get lots of notes of vanilla and oak as well as the Kavalan signature tropical notes I mentioned above and also mango and pineapple. On my second sip the whisky tasted sweeter and I got a full essence of a vanilla ice cream cone with hints of ginger, nutmeg, and woody notes.
With a couple of drops of water I got notes of white chocolate, raspberry and cream soda . What a delight!
The finish is sweet and spicy like white pepper sprinkled on biscuits that lingers on the palate.
For such a high cask strength whisky (58.6%) it is very luxurious , smooth and elegant, drinking well below it’s ABV.
This Taiwanese single malt cask strength whisky has won a ton of accolades – most recently including double gold at the international spirits challenge 2019 and gold at the San Francisco Spirits competition in 2019.
- Review written by Zahara Amiri