By Jake Emen
Perhaps now stuck in the shadow of its sibling, the Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask, Kavalan Solist Sherry has nonetheless attracted its own attention as well. But can it live up to the rather high standards which the ex-Bourbon has set after being named the Whisky Advocate 2014 World Whisky of the Year? We’ll take a closer look and settle the score here.
Kavalan Solist Sherry is a single malt, single cask-strength whisky, here bottled at 57% ABV but more generally available from 55 to 60%. It has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks, it’s hand bottled, and it’s non-chill filtered.
The first thing you’ll notice of course is the deep ruby brown color of the Solist Sherry in the glass. On the nose, you’ll find at first a surprising citrusy and floral bouquet, which gives small hints and then deeper bursts of a heartier character, with a nuttiness, and scents of grape and assorted non-citrus fruits, such as plum. There are also fainter hints of chocolate and butterscotch, and really, there’s a lot going on in the nose, a very complex and rich profile.
On the palate, you’ll find an almost cedar-like wood taste with spicy overtones which will leave your cheeks tingling. The finish offers more spice, dark, dried fruits and a distinctly grape and Sherry flavor.
Add ice, and you’ll still get that wood profile, but less aggressively. It also becomes less spicy, but in turn kicks up the Sherry even more.
Interestingly, the Solist Sherry has much less bite than the Solist ex-Bourbon, yet here I actually believed the cask came on a bit too strongly, perhaps overpowering the whisky itself at times. While I don’t mean to endlessly compare the two, in full disclosure I sampled them on consecutive nights. Ultimately, it’s impressively rich and has tons of character, and could be a favorite if you’re a Sherry-head.
Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask can be found online at prices between $150 and $200, and currently, a seemingly scarce supply.
Awards & Notes
Keep in mind, while I noted that the Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon is in the limelight now, the Solist Sherry has received plenty of attention, too. Awards include a 2013 gold and premium at the Malt Maniacs Award, a 2012 platinum from the Beverage Testing Institute and a 2012 double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.