Last week we looked at an expression of Kavalan from their Solist range, this week we will be once again indulging ourselves in this range but this time sampling the award-winning Vinho Barrique. Back in March 2015 the world (well, the whisky one) woke up to hear that a little unknown distillery from Taiwan had taken the top prize for World Whisky of the Year, that dram of course was this Solist Vinho Barrique. Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and re-charred in a way that brings out fruity vanilla notes from the whisky and wood overlaid on a delicate background of complex fruitiness. While this technique is time-consuming, the result is a more complex whisky than is possible with whisky casks alone.
On the nose: there is an inviting note of black treacle, raisins and currents, along side notes of cardamom, cinnamon and red apple. Notes of dark chocolate, cracked black pepper and star anise start to emerge, followed by liquorice and almonds. Rounding out the nose are notes of ganache, softer notes of rose-water and a hint of orange zest, peaches and ripe melon.On the palate: those sweet notes of raisin and currents are ever-present, followed by clementines ,black pepper, cinnamon and almonds. These initial notes are followed by walnuts, aniseed, poached pears (soaked in red wine), ganache and a touch of ginger. Finishing off the nose are notes of tobacco, plums and black grapes. The finish: long, sweet and peppery, with lingering currents and almonds and liquorice.
The verdict: There is no doubt that Kavalan definitely know what it takes to make a whisky that is just beautiful on the nose but some expressions, in my opinion, go missing on the palate. That said, this Vinho Barrique Solist has spades of flavour from nose to palate but does need a little encouragement. Admittedly, it is not hard to see why this Solist Vinho won WW of the year in 2015, when the judges tasted this it must have instantly tickled their taste buds, it’s just so different to any whisky I’ve tasted. This particular batch was bottled at 57.8% ABV, so you’ll most likely need to add some water or leave it to breathe for a while, just to soften things up a little – making much easier to enjoy.
Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Malt Whisky can be found online at the Whisky Shop for approximately £210. For more information on the Solist Vinho Barrique expression, visit the official Kavalan website.