The Kavalan King Car conductor Whisky opens with beeswax-honey-still-dripping candles plunged into the thick fondant topping a New York Cheesecake. Caramel drippings Jackson-Pollack-like adorn the cake, and the celebration room is liberally bestrewn with down pillows in purple brocade. There are roast, candied root vegetables sitting in pewter bowls, offsetting the wall-hangins of baby shoes that were reworked by a master cobbler, wearing her old leather apron, into Capuchin monkey face murals. Because the celebrant is a musician and because no expense was spared, Amati violins and viols from Cremona adorn the purple heartwood paneling.
The mouth is slick and silky, like a jockey astride a potential triple crown filly. There’s a mini black hole, formed from compressed lemons, that’s drawing my tongue, soft palate, and really, my whole mouth into it. It’s tannic, in a refined way, and making my salivary glands weep tears of savory delight. There are cherries and deer antler fuzz (but no deer antler spray). It’s punchy, and punching above its weight—I feel like I’m sparring in a boxing ring for kicks with a young kid, who turns out to be Mike Tyson at age 8. Ouch. There’s also a real creaminess woven into it, like a comforter made from kurds (but not Kurds) and casein. Jay Gatsby’s holding a party in the East Egg section of my mouth. Jay Z. is holding a counter-party in the West Egg, and honestly, both parties are pretty amazing.
The finish is long and serious, like a sermon from an Old Testament prophet made out of molasses, imprecating on a street car on the way to Tarville. (Tarville is not a real place.) Pavlov’s dog bell rings incessantly along the way, gurgling and donging down my throat, and the mixed messages are clear: Welcome to Molassestown, where power blends with smoothness, richness, and guilt born of overindulgence.
On the scale of hyper-dynamic sailboats whose sailors sing jazz standards as well as Van Morrison songs during regattas–
The Kavalan King Car conductor Whisky, is a couple of catamaran captains conducting crews crooning Caravan and Caravan–Does the rating make sense? Not really. Do the words “catamaran” and “caravan” rhyme with Kavalan? Not really. Are the two versions of Caravan, which are wildly disparate, each amazing in their own way? Most definitely. Is the Kavalan amazing in its own way? Definitely.