This set of reviews are from the last in-store tasting I attended in early April. I arrived a bit later which meant it was less crowded and I could take my sweet ass time taking notes and somewhat antisocial.
First whisky of the night was this Blenders’ Batch edition. I believe there are 3 or 4 of these featuring different finishes or highlighting the grains used.
The Diageo blab says it supposed to be 10± years old, despite being NAS, relying on malt from Clynelish and grain from Cameronbridge.
Nose: a fair amount of sulfur, loads of vanilla, sour fruit and oak. A touch of damp earthy peat, wet cardboard, cooked fruits.
Palate: red fruits, currants, cherry, creamy vanilla. Then malty, bread, it’s fairly hot on the arrival. Marzipan, cardboard, sour fruits, like summer pudding left out in sun and fermenting. Lots of oak present throughout.
Finish: it’s limp watery, keeps on with the burn and sour oak/jam
Many people raved about this at the tasting, surprised by how much they liked it and “for the price” they kept saying. There are some aspects that I liked but it felt messy overall, maybe in cocktails but I still don’t see what makes this specifically a JW product. Maybe I’m taking this too seriously or perhaps I’m just not the intended consumer for this product.
SAQ Tasting session are back! I missed these Thursday rendez-vous. They were on summer hiatus and I’m not sure when they resumed. Our monopoly received a lot of interesting whiskys lately among them some good single cask shit, Kilchoman, Benromach, Edradour and then it appeared Kavalan…the first mention of it (that I’m aware of) in our stores. The line-up is somewhat limited considering the range of cask types the distillery offers. The options are Podium, Ex-Bourbon oak and two Solist CS releases, a bourbon and sherry cask respectively.
I have no experience trying any kavalan and I was mentally preparing to cajole a store clerk in order to get a small taste of whatever bottle they must have open in the back when low and behold this week’s in store tasting was all of them!
I’ll break up the reviews over two posts to avoid dragging it out. We’ll cover the standard line-up fist.
Kavalan Podium: NAS 46% abv. virgin American oak and in-house refill casks
Nose: Sweet, bubble-gummy, definitely wine cask influences, you feel the dark berries, tree buds and the oak. The alcohol is a bit sharp at first, it opens up after time, floral, slight sulfur, a bit of ripe creamy tropical fruits, apple skins, milk chocolate and nuts, plum wine.
Palate: It is indeed sweet, ginger, the oak is present and there is a touch of worn leather, the texture is nice & viscous. Vanilla, cocoa powder a kind of sweet oak and green fruits, none of the jujube/tropical fruits from the nose.
The finish is mid length very drying with a fair amount of pepper, ginger and bitterness
It’s good but not earth shattering, the nose is beautiful just not very malt whisky like. In hindsight the cask play is an interesting way to provide some of what makes the Solist series so intriguing. At a fair price I would be tempted to have some of this around the house at 200$ no way.
Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Oak: NAS 46% abv. The name says it all.
Nose: It is kind of mute at first, coconut, a fair amount of varnish. jujubes, carnuba wax. I have to stick my nose in it to get something, creamy, rising pastries…not much else.
Palate: Bitter sweet, all on oaky vanilla, coconut & toffee. Sharp on the attack, it has a bit of charred wood, it’s that pleasant bourbon barrel thing, sweet and woody, liquid toffee.
The finish is light, more jujubes, wine gums a bit of creamy butter and coconut oils.
The nose was practically non existant and rather uninspiring, the palate had a sharpness that was off-putting and then it was all like T&A with not much content.
The boring opinions bit
In a quick browse of reviews of the lower strength offerings of Kavalan, they generally get pretty lukewarm reviews, the bourbon vatting is extremely disappointing. I would be tempted to say it shows the limitations of the hot climate/young whisky scheme but I am really smitten with the basic Amrut single malt which functions on similar principals but is in every way superior to this.
I visited Kings County Distillery in early March of this year, when I arrived at the gates of the site I stopped into the tasting room and was told I’d just missed the beginning of a tour. With 30 minutes or so to kill I was offered the chance to warm up, have a drink and bask in the cozy atmosphere.
The bar is well decorated and honestly stands up on it’s own as a nice place to hangout and have a few drinks. The menu has many original drinks all made with products from the distillery, while studying it my eyes fell upon a wine cask finished bourbon. I was definitely curious and since it’s not something I’m likely to see much of back home I jumped at the chance to sample it.
The color is coppery with a rosy hue.
Nose: The alcohol hits first with some varnish, freshly dumped whisky cask that wet oak smell, corn porridge, ginger and baking spices, rye bread, bubblegum.
Palate: Sweet arrival, fizzy, jammy fruits. Fresh baked Bundt cake, a touch of toffee or milk jam. There is some rawness from the alcohol.
The finish is long on caraway and cloves, creamy vanilla and dark berries.
It was an interesting experiment, I think bourbon’s sweetness and proclivity towards cherry and caramel is at times a better pairing for a wine barrique than Scotch, if you can stand the sweetness. I would love to see a nice aged rye get this treatment I suppose High West Yippie ki yay or Midwinter nights dram are what I might be looking for. That said it is a bit immature, the nose felt closed up and the palate too narrow, lots of solvent notes at the beginning as well.
I’ve since come across an article where the new head blender of KCD is interviewed and he gives the specs on this whisky. They used a mix of 13 month old bourbons from quarter casks that were vatted into a 63 gallon barrel that previously held fortified Cabarnet franc. This was finished for 8 weeks of the summer in order to obtain maximum extraction of the flavour, it is sold exclusively at the distillery.