Tasting Kavalan Vinho

This tasting note has been sitting for far too long in my email, and I only after getting the tasting notes from Shai & Richard (members of WI whisky tasting society whose notes will be published soon), i finally arrived at publishing them.

A bit of information about this whisky (described by Ian the master blender at King Car Whisky, makers of Kavalan):

The Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and re-charred manually. The American oak that has been seasoned in the open air for at least 24 months. The oak is slow grown that results in a greater release of flavours into the whisky. This reduces the astringent effect of tannins and releases more vanilla spiciness and hints of herbs. The result is softness and added complexity. The casks have deliberately been used to mature both red and white wines and after their use for wine maturation the casks are carefully shaved inside then gently toasted over an oak chip fire for a strictly controlled period of time and temperature. This converts wine residues into a complex mixture of fruit flavours. Then the casks are charred for a short period of time to release lashings of flavours such as vanilla and caramelised sugars.

Kavalan Vinho , 58.2% ABV


Nose: Sweet and intense, with a lot of vanilla going on , spices galore (cinnamon,white pepper) . Wood is not absent of course and so are dried fruits (sultanas, prunes) . after another sniff, i am getting some exotic fruit mixed with burnt sugar.

Palate: Wham! IN-Your-Face sort of dram. The impact is huge with the high ABV : it starts with an avalanche of sugar, molasses, then you get the winey notes, quite a few tannins, red wine tannins, continuing with spiciness of mixed pepper and cinnamon, wet oak. Best i can describe it is dark artisan chocolate, covered with spicy cinnamon.

Finish : Prunes, in peppery spicy sweet and sugary syrup. very long. excellent stuff.

Bottom line:

One of the better Kavalans i’ve had in recent months. In your face kind of, and not for those into light whiskies. Complex, bottled at the right cask strength, and not too much winy. Good work Ian & Co. Too bad again, that It’s really hard to find an online retailer who sells those, and they are mostly available in the far east. Kavalan assured me they are working on worldwide(er) availability, and It’s indeed worth the wait.

Score: 90/100

Sincere thanks to Ian Chang for the generous sample.

4 thoughts on “Tasting Kavalan Vinho

  1. While I was so lucky to get my hands on of one of these bottles recently I’m really happy with these positive notes. Will save this bottle for a special occasion…

  2. I think there is no difference what the barrel held previously if it is toasted and re-charred. That likely dries up any absorbed liquid. So, “vinho” is a marketing gimmick.

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