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Kavalan Vinho Barrique Cask W120614028 53.2%

The Whisky Exchange exclusive

The Kavalan Vinho Barrique is (in my opinion), a thing of in-your-face-opulence. Opening a bottle is always a real treat and seeing the reactions on people’s faces who have never tried this whisky speaks a thousand words. This review explores The Whisky Exchange’s

exclusive Vinho Barrique bottling.

Appearance: Dark gingerbread/maple syrup. Oily, waxen legs cling to the inside of the glass.

Nose: An immediately recognisable scent hits you.…raisins. Raisins galore. Raisins that have been soaked in Cognac or perhaps cooking sherry. After the thick & sweet aroma hits the nose, warming spices are there, coupled with a rich milk chocolate note. Another nosedive into the glass and a light sourness is lurking there before a fruity toffee hint (toffee apple perhaps) and warm caramel sauce appear. Nuttiness now comes to the forefront supported by sponge cake and breakfast pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. It’s just everything sweet and rich.

Palate: Surprisingly, it’s initially quite dry before a big surge of glorious thick sweetness explodes over the tongue. Even though Kavalan’s Vinho Barrique is matured in red/white wine casks that have gone through the shave, toast, re-char process - otherwise known as “STR” (see my post with photos & video from when I was at the distillery here: - it’s almost sherry-like in its sweet body & delivery. Dry liquorice-like tannins re-appear on the back of the tongue along with warming spices that have simmered in thick, sweet, and dark juice. There’s also a faint touch of shortbread (as is mentioned in TWE review)

Held in the mouth a little longer, white pepper and burnt sugar prickle and coat the tongue.

Finish: Long, with an alternating dance of mild chilli-fizz-dryness, rich syrupy sweetness, and an almost dark rum & sherry explosion.

Water adds… More aromatic dark fruits on the nose, a little more dryness & oak on the palate with a lighter oiliness on the finish. To be honest, a slither of ice actually works well with this. Don’t judge me on that.

Conclusion: I’ve only ever had good Kavalan Vinho Barrique’s. They are consistent decadence-in-a-glass and are one of my favourites within the Solist range. This particular cask selection is no exception. It’s very, very good and if you like big, sweet and rich drams then this is for you. As mentioned in another Kavalan review I wrote, it’s just another example of incredible cask selection, meticulous attention to detail, and the balance, science, and magic of what has been created by Ian Chang and the late Dr Jim Swan.

Available exclusively at The Whisky Exchange for £225.

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