By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
The "Solist" line of single casks from Kavalan has taken the whisky world by storm. They're winning awards left and right. Asian Whisky of the year! Single Cask Single Malt of the Year! World's Best Single Malt! It's almost unfair. I don't know exactly what these guys are doing at that special distillery on this humid Pacific island, but I know that their whisky is easily out-classing the competition across the globe. Maybe it's because they're committed to quality in a way the Scottish distillers no longer are or maybe they're even using paxarette to season the barrels after the long voyage to the Pacific (this controversial practice was outlawed in Scotland in the '80s, but has since been deemed responsible for some of the great sherried malts of the latter half of the 20th century). It really doesn't matter to me how they do it. The whiskies are extraordinary and in a class totally on their own. This special cask is the first "Solist" Sherry we selected ourselves and will be available exclusively at K&L. It represents a huge percentage of the entire allocation of the brand for California over the next year. It's arresting and intense but balanced beyond any Solist I've yet to come across. The nose is pure Oloroso, deep dense hazelnut and pecan butters, sweet molten brown sugar, Christmas cake, stewed apricots, fig jam, dried cherries and raisins. The palate explodes with spice, yet the alcohol heat is almost completely masked with the rich, opulent dried fruit, sweet thick nutty flavors. Hints of phenol and spice. The palate is completely enveloped by the viscous texture, but it doesn't feel overly sweet or syrupy and begins to twinge on the bitter roots and dried exotic botanical barks. These bitter aromatics are the perfect balance to the almost over the top sherry notes. The finish kicks up with a huge balancing spice on the finish. Consummately pleasurable, dotting every i and crossing every t, the whisky neither lacks nor requires anything to be absolutely astonishing. This is truly total package and dangerously drinkable.