Oloroso

Review: Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Kavalan Solist 1.jpg
ABV
59.1%
Aging
~6 years; Oloroso Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

One of the most highly regarded bottlings of whisky, Kavalan Solist Sherry. Here we go!


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask S081225011; Bottle 287/535

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

The nose has 2% North American milk (yes! and North American milk doesn't taste like milk elsewhere - it isn't stated without reason), lots of anise, licorice, star anise, fennel seed (very much - Kavalan is quite licorice-y, and this is no exception), milk chocolate, sherry, celery, oak, tobacco, currants, vanilla. The nose at cask strength is incredible - dilution changes it, but doesn't improve it - the components battle one another with more power at cask strength - the oak, the sherry, the licorice, the spice. It is pretty dense stuff.

The palate has lots of currants, milk chocolate, anise, fresh fennel fronds, clove, cinnamon, and a bit of a malty core. It's quite nice, really. At cask strength the malt and raisins feel so pure, fading to spice and prunes eventually. The finish is spicy with tobacco, clove, green tea, dried fruit, celery seed, and apple chips.

I generally don't love anise-y whiskies but this is growing on me quite a bit. It is marvelous...very complex, a bit weird, very good...a single cask, so these vary from cask to cask. Some, I hear are marvelous, but given all the licorice in Kavalan - I might not due them justice.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Not a cheap one, most places. This was $216.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: S090123071 (bottle 434 of 514, 58.6%) 2015.08.17 13:34

  • Bottling Date: 2015

The nose is rich and woody, with light licorice, and lots of spices – from wintergreen to a rich, slightly edgy woody spice perhaps like licorice root. But lots more: roasted almonds and cashews, orchard fruit, peach and nectarine, walnut, and toffee. Slightly sweet on the nose; it’s balanced well. It holds itself together on the nose better than most cask strength single malts, with a rich oaky centre surrounded by all the spice, herbal notes, and fruit. Also, oddly, the earthiness is more prominent at cask strength compared to when it is watered down.

The palate has chocolate and lots of almond, sherry, and rich oak. It has lots of typical Italian mixed dried herbs, fresh fig, strawberry. A very rich mouthfeel, and great movement, with a rising set of flavours and feels toward the finish. Quite a bit softer than my cask.

The finish has date bars, wood char, dried spices, green tea, and dried apricot – and some dried thyme. The whisky has a bit of astingency akin to over-steeped black teas – not necessarily bad, but different - the whisky is built around this and it gives it a very interesting structure.

This cask is quite a bit different than my sharper, licorice-laden, and slightly astringent bottling above. This is less „winey”, more oaky, and has less spice and astringency. The cask above had some of the most licorice I’ve ever seen in a whisky.... (my tasting of concertmaster might have had more).

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Not a cheap one, most places. This was $216.


Review: Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
18 Years; Ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenfiddich (Dufftown, Scotland)

This single malt is made from a mix of oloroso sherry casks and bourbon casks, which are aged and then married in batches for at least 3 months in large oak casks.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Cinnamon and slightly caramelized apples, pineapple, vanilla, and a bit of creaminess akin to vanilla pudding. There is some nice honey sweetness on the nose, and the oak has taken up some good presence. The caramelized, honeyed apple is so vibrant and inviting, and even more after the vanilla picks up as the nose develops.

Taste: Nice and viscous body. The oak comes in at first, with a good measure of honey – and some spicy apple comes in before fading to vanilla and some spicy cinnamon. Amidst all this, there are some raisins, with the slightest bit of an earthy peaty undertone. The spiciness, acidity, sweetness, and mouthfeel are all brilliant. Warm cinnamon and cacao on the finish. slightly herbal too.

Finish: Tingly, spicy, sweet, and even a touch oily .There are some light apples, vanilla, oak, honey, and just a very light touch of smoke. It is slightly herbal as well, and there even appears to be a bit of mint on the finish. Even, after some time, I find some malt comes through. It is slightly dry too, with good body and length.

This is very good – engaging, complex, and deep. Still, it’s light – not heavy or intense, but light and elegant. The oak has had its effect on the whisky, and it has done good work. A very nice extension from the 12 year old expression. Very pleasant.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $157.


Review: Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
51%
Aging
15 Years; Ex-bourbon and Ex-oloroso casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenfiddich (Dufftown, Scotland)

This is different than the solera matured 15 year old, and clocks in at an impressive 51% and is also non chill-filtered. It is made from similar casks as the other 15 year old, but without a solera process. So, we'd expect a better mouthfeel and finish than the standard 15, but how does it really compare?


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L32Z 4903 2611 0820

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

On the nose – lots of peach - stewed and dried - and lots of spice here as well! Pears, almond, custard, apple seeds, corn husks, and a touch of nice malt. The palate is rich – and with wonderful mouthfeel – nutmeg, cinnamon, almond, peaches, green apple, pleasing light malt – buttery and very easy to drink but also with the lightest texture of tannins. The finish is full of gummy peach candies – fuzzy peaches, in Canada.  Also dried apricots, pleasing vanilla, a touch of sherry spiciness, though it does disappear fairly quickly. I quite like the 15 year old solera reserve, and this doesn’t quite have the same complexity, but the mouthfeel is far superior and the palate shows a bit of a different character – but still a favorite of the Glenfiddichs for me.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $60. Worth noting, though, for a higher ABV and decent single malt, this is on the cheaper end!


Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years; Oloroso Sherry and Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenfiddich (Dufftown, Scotland)

This is the best selling single malt in the world (as of 2011, at least) – and, almost universally, it seems, people say that the way to approach scotch is the Glenfiddich 12 y.o. – and there’s good reason – it’s relatively soft, complex, and, well, very good. However, in my experience so many people (myself included) didn’t really start to love scotch until they had a good smoky one – so I think many people may actually have started with this one when actually they might better have started with a big smoky Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Each to his own...

It is distilled in Dufftown, the whisky capital of the famed Speyside region of Scotland, at Glenfiddich, which means “valley of the deer”. The distillery itself owns its own cooperage and coppersmith – a very small number of distilleries can boast that.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: As so often seen in ads and descriptions (they’ve been advertising in Ontario a lot of late), pear does come out, alongside green apple (much like those sweet green apple candies), some vanilla, honey, brown sugar, raisins, peach, and a good dose of malt. I find as it sits that more developed apple flavours – like the pleasant, sweet aroma of older apples on the ground, and some cinnamon.

Taste: There’s green apple with a slightly spicy edge, a good whack of vanilla, and some spice on the end. The spicy edge on the end – cinnamon and clove – with a bit of bite – really rounds this one off very well – and I love that touch. There is a decent amount of raisins in the mix, as well as malt quite akin to many oaked beers. There are very slight smoky and earthy undertones, I find, in the mix – but it’s certainly not one you’d call smoky.  And, it is reasonably sweet, which is a nice touch on this one, I think.

Finish: There’s some warm light peat on the finish, some malt and a good kick of the green apple fruitiness, along with apple seeds. The body is quite decent on the finish, and I find a touch of almond.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is the classic starter, and I think it’s better than most folks give it credit for.

Value: Average, based on $55.