Tasting Kavalan part IV : ‘Solist’ Single Cask, Ex-Bourbon

It’s been a very interesting week here at Whisky Israel HQ, with three Kavalans already tasted and reviewed. If you read yesterday’s post, you will remember that i fell in love with the Ex-Sherry single cask expression which displayed complexity , power , and quality.

Today we are about to review its sibling the Ex-Bourbon matured spirit, at natural cask strength,no colour additives. This one is also three years of age, but again we’re talking Taiwan years, high temperatures and humidity which mean fast maturation and quite some ‘Angel’s share’ evaporation.

Josh of  the JSMWS and I will be sharing our thoughts on this one too .  While I’m not tasting these whiskies blindly, Josh and I will not be sharing our thoughts on these whiskies prior to our posting them.  Be sure to check out Josh’s notes on this whisky.

Now let’s check this one out:

Kavalan ‘Solist’ Single Cask strength Ex-Bourbon , 58.2 % ABV


Colour:  Golden Straw.

Nose: Quite fresh with Vanilla (ok, it’s ex- bourbon we’re expecting it) , Spice (ginger) and the Kavalan ‘usual’ exotic fruit ( Papaya, Mango), hints of butter and tasted oak as well. Quite alcoholic on the nose but not too much.

Palate: Sweet, vanilla and a lot of buttery taste and feeling (creamy?), Oak is felt here more than in the Ex-Sherry version, as this is more of a ‘Naked’ version. Again, there are some fresh notes of maybe lemon(grass). I usually do not like adding water to CS whiskies, and here i don’t think it’s really necessary. I tried adding some water, and besides making it more exotic (some coconut) it’s not much of a difference, and i like it more powerful.

Finish: First wave of sweet vanilla, then overcome by bitter oak wood. Medium length.

Bottom line : This is a very nice Cask strength dram, which again feels older than its 3 years, yet i do think a few more months in the cask might do it good. It’s somehow less ‘fruity’ than the 40% ABV basic version, but of good quality. If i compare it to the Ex-Sherry version, it plays 2nd violin, as the Sherry is outstanding.


If i have to sum up this week in which me and Josh tasted four Kavalans, i must say i was surprised by the sheer quality of all of those drams. Starting with the basic Kavalan ,  continuing with the Port finish and the two very good Single Cask Strength expressions, it really feels like a lot of work and care has been invested in producing those. They are all well made, feel older than their 3 year age, and i can say they can compete head to head with most scotches.

The Ex-Sherry CS, shines above all four showing great maturity, harmony of flavours, and sheer brute force, and it’s clearly my winner of all four at the end of the day.

It’s too bad all four expressions are really hard to come by, anywhere except Taiwan / China and Asia. I am really looking forward to seeing how this young distillery will evolve, and which new expressions will be released in the coming years. Indeed, King Car Co. has done a great job of producing whisky , by the book.



Again, many thanks to Ian of Kavalan for the generous official sample.