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August 30, 2022 (edited September 8, 2022)
4.0 out of 5 stars
For reference, this sample came from a single cask from 2011 that was bottled at 57.8%.
The nose is bold and dense with a syrupy richness that starts with dark chocolate torte, powdered sugar dusted sautéed blackberries and antique polished furniture then toasted almonds and freshly lit pipe tobacco followed by cherry brandy, caramelized mangos and baked salted orange that transitions to anise, cardamom, saffron and vintage leather with high ethanol burn.
The taste is a rich and syrupy mouthfeel starting with creamy tropical fruits before quickly veering to a moderate sour spice that slowly fades to cocoa powder dusted prunes and antique polished furniture then freshly lit cigar and marzipan followed by apricot jam, sour cherries and baked salted orange that transitions to black pepper, anise, cardamom, saffron and mildly bitter black tea with high ethanol burn.
The finish is long with creamy tropical fruits, cocoa powder dusted prunes, marzipan, anise, cardamom, saffron, dusty leather-bound books and polished antique furniture.
This is another excellent release by Kavalan that the flavors are rich and intense with a mix of sour fruits, old oak and unique spices but for me this falls short of the heights reached by the Moscatel due to a higher spice and the fruits having a moderate sourness that I don’t recall finding in the Moscatel.
Kavalan’s Solist line is very expensive and I don’t think this one justifies its high asking price, but if I were to purchase one of their Solist line I’d likely reach for the Moscatel as its been my favorite so far with the Amontillado being a very close second.
What can I say, I've become a bit hooked/obsessed with Kavalan and I finally broke down and made the less than smart financial decisions to pick this up for 417 bucks (ouch).
Nose - At first I'm mostly getting vanilla over a fruity all be it on descriptive malt and a good bit of alcohol. I added water and to be honest it's not really opening up much. Time seems to be the magic on the nose. It's now fruity, very clearly a distinct sherry note with some vanilla.
Taste - I'm not an expert on tehse manzanilla casks, I've really only had a few bottles with some maturation, that I'm aware of, with them. They are sweeter than Oloroso but they aren't the same kind of sweetness of a PX. The taste is sweet with some spice. I'm not getting a distinct sherry like note, just a general sweeter whisky with a lot of fruity elements but I'm not able to really drill in.
Added water and I'm still struggling with this one. There's berries up front, then it moves into some spices. There's something here muting the whisky, it's like the sherry wants to explode into this sweet candy note and then there's a bready oaky element coming in and bringing the sweetness down, bringing in some spice, and then leaving it with a long, but bitter finish.
I think the problem with this one is that I came in really hoping for a dessert dram and that isn't this at all. The sweetness is a bit muted, the barrels are giving off some oak, the natural malts are much more hearty than perhaps I realized, and while the cask finishing really does shine (this is a sherry bomb for sure) the other elements here are far more in play than I'd expected and really than I'd noticed on some other pours from this series.
I'm going 4 stars here but I'm debating 3.75. This is great whisky but it's not truly special. Still the cask strength, single barrel, sherry bomb qualities are working very well for me here.
Will re-review - but this is going higher up, it's opened up a lot in the bottle. Likely a 4.5 but maybe 4.25.
August 10, 2019 (edited November 19, 2019)
4.75 out of 5 stars
This was a unicorn for me. A unicorn that I finally got a hold of thanks to a buddy traveling through Taiwan (thanks John).
So first off - since he bought it in Taiwan, the price point was less than half the price of the same bottle in the US (theoretical price as I couldn’t find it anywhere). That means I’m rating it at the price of acquisition as well. If I had to pay full US price I’d have to ding it a little.
Given that - this thing is so damn fun. The nose on this thing is an explosion of sexy smells. Sweet and lush. And the taste? Depth of flavor like the Mariana Trench and a taste that lingers in your mouth like a catchy song sticks in your head.
Add a drop of water to take a bit of the heat away - this thing is as strong as Popeye after spinach at over 58% abv - and you’ll find yourself in for a really treat. Zoinks! I’m hooked.
Sweet (but not too sweet) and viscous - this thing is awesome.
I plan on sipping this and savoring this for as long as possible!
Song that I associate with the Kavalan Solist Manzanilla? Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen