Water of Life – Kavalan Vinho Barrique and Daneson Toothpicks
We have shed light on Kavalan and their excellent emission from various angles over the last years and I have yet to come across a dram from this unique and by now accolade decorated Taiwanese distillery that would disappoint me. With their focus set firmly on quality management and the uncompromising, meticulous selection, sourcing and curation of casks, they inhabit a place in terms of consistency that rivals the practices of top Scottish distilleries.
Now, every time I found myself raving about my preference for Kavalan whiskeys, enthusiasts could not believe that I had never tried what is commonly believed to be one of their flagship and best creations, i.e. the much fabled about Kavalan Single Malt Solist Vinho Barrique.
Clocking in at a solid 57.7% ABV and a deep colouring reminiscent of the fulminant shades of ruby and mahogany, the aromas that tickle the nostrils are instantaneously reminiscent of dark rum and floral notes, with highlights of citrussy nuances that rest on a bed of dark chocolate and vanilla.
What the nose promised, finds its extension on the palate, with the Vinho Barrique in terms of flavours being rooted in rum and cognac territory, which are elevated by vanilla and sugary highlights. Add a few drops of water and the complexity is rounded out as spicier notes come to the fore.
While the aforementioned might indicate that the Vinho Barrique is smoothness incarnated, there is a bit of bite to it as it comes to the elongated finish: While one feels serenaded by grapes and an overall cognac-esque feel, the alcohol cuts through – not in a dissonant but a highly welcome way as it keeps things interesting.
Given that the drop matured in Vinho wine casks, “vinho” signifying “young wine”, and the fact that the casks have previously been seasoned with both white and red wines before being re-charred to aid with caramelization, it is not further wondrous that this expression has depth that has added fruity dimensions, which are vibrant yet subtle and strikes a well-calibrated balance that carries what has become the DNA and benchmarked quality of Kavalan, a distillery that keeps setting new standards and raising the bar.
Now for something a bit different.
I like a good toothpick, all the more when there is a bit of flavour to it, let alone that of whiskies and bourbons.
Daneson is a company dedicated to sweating the small stuff and enhancing man’s simple pleasures, which in this case means that they take source natural ingredients from family-owned suppliers, i.e. American northern white birch.
The two varieties of toothpicks I have had the pleasure to sample are that of Single Malt No.16 - fourteen-year-old Islay scotch whisky imbued with notes of oak tannins, peat, almond, and vanilla and the Bourbon No.22 - steeped in six-year-old cask strength Kentucky straight bourbon, which results in a melange of oak, leather, caramel, and almond and hints of fruit once this toothpick is warmed up.
It is interesting how flavour nuances unfold once one starts sucking on the toothpick and warming it up. From a foundation of oak barrel flavours at the beginning, a bite unleashes subtle highlights of the botanicals, extracts, and phenols, which will start to release from deep inside the birch, resulting in more delicate and delicious tasting notes.
The toothpicks come in specifically designed glass tube with corks and have become a welcome go to treat, especially after a good lunch.
Sometimes it is all about the simple pleasures in life...
images from company websites