Review: Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask

Kavalan – Solist: Sherry Cask

Single cask whiskies are like the holy grail of Scotch. Once-off single cask expressions of Glendronach, Macallan and Glenfarclas command huge praises and crazy prices, but only arrive in sporadic, limited releases.

Kavlan’s Solist range – their single cask, cask strength lineup of whiskies – breaks convention by being consistently available, forming the premium arm of their core range. The praises and prices are along for the ride, but if you’ve got the cash you can pick one up at any decent bottle store. Nice.

I certainly didn’t have the cash, and am instead trying a 48ml miniature of the Solist Sherry Cask, bottled at a eye-watering 57%. Let’s go!

  • Colour:

Daaark. Like a rusty, orange-tinted red wine. The darkest whisky I’ve ever poured.

  • Nose:

First off, heavy alcohol – this is the nose hair-searing cleaning fluid effect that the Solist Ex-Bourbon was strangely missing. Ouch. But a few sniffs in and the olfactories are beaten soundly into submission, and you get some great flavours coming through. Of course, assloads of sweet sherry. Along with some very faint citrus, Safari dried fruit sticks and spices.

  • Taste:

A few sips in, and I’m willing to admit that this needs to go for a swim:

  • Water:

Took me a while to find the sweet-spot here, but it was time well spent. The nose opens up considerably – slightly waxy, with rich red fruits, raisins. Mince pies. Marzipan icing. A little mint. On the taste… Hellooo, nurse! Powerful, intense, complex, brilliant. The sherry is thankfully of the “rich and oily” variety rather than “sweet and sour” (perhaps Oloroso vs. PX?) A lot of orange zest, slightly chocolatey, and a little spicy. Phwoar.

  • Finish:

Somewhat short, actually, even before watering it down. This isn’t such a bad thing – it’s a rich, fruity, dry aftertaste that sits well. Perhaps just more reason to reach for that next sip! But one taste I noticed sits on the tongue long after its finished: cinnamon, and it’s awesome.


The sherriest sherry monster I’ve ever had the opportunity to try, beating even the brutish Glenfarclas 105 at its own game. I’m usually not wild about these high strength, hulking sherry malts, but this is one seriously incredible whisky. It’s missing that slightly astringent taste I get with the 105, and together with its rich development and cinnamon finish it’s possibly one of the best whiskies I’ve ever had. By no means an everyday dram – but this is one you have got to try. Somehow. Consider theft, or begging.

Kavalan – Solist: Sherry Cask
Quality: Excellent
Price: Expensive
See my rating guide here

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