By Jake Emen
The cask is always key with Kavalan, and with each separae offering of their range which we sample, we find ourselves with a new cask experiment of sorts. Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique utilizes American oak — no, not bourbon barrels — but American oak wine barrels, with a very unique and specific background and process.
Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique is a cask strength, single malt whisky, bottled at 57% ABV. The casks used have been open-air seasoned for at least 24 months. They were used to mature both red and white wines, after which they were shaved, toasted, and finally charred. The intent is to incorporate a complex range of flavors from a wide array of potential sources.
Solist Vinho is a golden-copper in the glass. Your first impression on the nose is sweet, but with a stiff, sharpness beneath it. You’ll notice orange and citrus, a light floral background, and vanilla. Lots of pleasant aromas lurking around here.
The palate offers a variety of spices, pepper and wood, with a dry, intense and hot finish. The wood is prominent on both the palate and the finish, perhaps too prominent, leaving me wondering if the aging and cask utilization here truly meshes as well as it could with the whisky itself. The flavors become a bit muddied, masked beneath the oak itself and an overall intense spiciness.
On ice, a rich, malty caramel and brown sugar comes to the forefront on the nose. A sip offers a lighter, smoother taste, and a more rounded out profile.
Solist Vinho Barrique is intriguing, taking you on a journey along several different profiles, and a divergent taste from what you might expect after the nose. Certainly an enjoyable and unique whisky, although not at the top of the Kavalan class.
You can find Kavalan Solist Vinho sold online for between approximately $150 and $175 per bottle depending on where you get it.
Awards & Notes
Kavalan Solist Vinho won gold at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition and 2012 Beverage Tasting Institute IRSC, and a double gold at the 2012 San Francisco world Spirits Competition.