By Jake Emen
One of the focal points of the Kavalan Whisky line is the selection of the casks they utilize. Thanks to the heat of their subtropical climate, and their relatively new introduction in 2008, they aren’t aging their whisky for 12 or 15 years. Instead, they depend on the local temperature and the wood to imbue their spirits with a special character, and they’ve been widely successful thus far, turning themselves into one of the bigger new players in the international whisky scene. For example, take their Solist ex-Bourbon Cask Whisky, perhaps the most highly lauded of the current Kavalan range.
The Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon is a single barrel, cask-strength, single malt whisky, in this case bottled at 57% ABV. The Solist ex-Bourbon is, well you guessed it, aged in select bourbon casks.
In the glass, Solist ex-Bourbon is a light straw color. On the nose, the first thing you’ll notice is a vanilla-caramel char that in no doubt comes from its carefully chosen cask. There’s also a surprising burst of tropical fruit.
It’s a cask-strength bottling, and you notice that potent bite. Get past that though and you have vanilla, honey, a peppery spice, and oak. The finish is long and hot, but nuanced and resonating, ending with pepper. Add an ice cube, and you’ll notice more vanilla on the nose, and a softer, smoother taste. It becomes cloudy thanks to being non-chill filtered, and offers a silky mouthfeel.
A few sips of your Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask leaves you sitting and contemplating its complexity. It’s flavor runs very deep, offering a rich, complex profile.
Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon retails online at anywhere from $150-$200 these days, with a surging price thanks to some recent recognition.
Whisky Advocate named Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask their 2014 World Whisky of the Year, hence the uptick in price. When they named it as such, they listed it at $110 for a 750ml bottle. Solist ex-Bourbon has also garnered 2012 and 2013 platinum honors from the Beverage Testing Institute, and golds at numerous other competitions as well.