I recently visited the beautiful country of Taiwan, and of course had to visit Kavalan Distillery while there. I highly recommend the trip to Yilan, as it is only a short drive from Taipei, and the landscape and distillery premises itself are more than charming.
After a nice stroll around the large premises, I entered the distillery shop and was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the recent Special Edition bottlings, celebrating 40 years of King Car, the company which owns Kavalan. It is rather expensive and the bottle only holds 200ml, so I really hope it lives up to my expectations. Let’s crack it open and find out…
Kavalan Selected Wine Cask Matured
This one was matured in french Claret Bordeaux red wine casks, which were hand selected by master distiller Ian Chang. In my opinion, Kavalan is always about fresh casks and intense flavours, so I expect a lot of wine notes in here. Hopefully, its not too dry.
Zesty red fruits, most prominently red currant. Red apple, elderberry, lychee, a slice of peach, jasmin tea, Orangina, water melon, salted butter toffee, cookie dough and a fresh hint of mint. Very nice and fizzy nose. A tropical fruitcake with a little salty edge.
Fruit buiscuits, orange marmelade, juicy watermelon, lots of coffee, minty and herbal. Fernet Menta, chocolate, aged Madeira wine. A lot more oaky than I expected from the nose. Reminds me of the Vinho Barrique bottling. Tangy finish on red berries and bitter apple peel.
As expected, this bottling is all about the great quality cask selection. Just don’t expect a classic “scotch” profile here. Avery modern and rather free interpretation of Single Malt Whisky. This is liquid sunshine in a glas. /89
Another bottle I bought at the distillery is the Solist Fino Sherry Cask. I tried one of these before, so when I saw it on discount at the distillery shop, I couldn’t resist.
Kavalan Solist Fino
Intensly meaty, salty and spicey. Cured meats, rich honey, toffee, black pepper BBQ sauce, wet tobacco. Linseed oil, oakchar and leather. A hint of allspice and cumin in the background. Very complex and alive. Water accentuates the spices even more.
Mirrors the nose quite well. Starts on cured meat, cantonese sweet and sour sauce, physalis, orange peel, wild honey, roasted and salted almonds, trailmix. very rich and oily mouthfeel. Damn, this is a good one. Long finish on bitter walnuts and oakchar.
A very nice Kava again. I don’t have a lot of past references when it comes to Fino cask maturation so it’s a bit hard to pin down, due to the everchanging nose. It’s all moving and evolving parts, but they fit together nicely. An exciting dram that one can spend plenty of time with. /91
I also visited the newly opened Kavalan Whisky Bar in Taipei city. I can only recommend it. It is a bit pricey but the whole experience is worth it. I had a great time and the friendly and knowledgable staff made it even better. You might want to book a table in advance to make sure you get a seat. I had a dram of the Kavalan Solist PX Sherry and really enjoyed it. Normally, I am not super into PX matured malt, but this was another amazing Kavalan Solist. I took no detailed notes, just kicked back and enjoyed the moment. The dram was very meaty, mentholated, and surprisingly more about the wood than the sweetness of the PX. Very delicious… My girlfriend tried one of their non-alcoholic hibiscus-juice based cocktails, which was also very creative and tasty.
As a whisky lover, Taiwan is a great country to visit. There are so many whisky and spirits shops in Taipei, and lots of special editions are to be discovered. Add to that, the amazing, friendly people, the beautiful nature and the delicious food and you are up for a great travel experience. I hope to come back soon.