The Kavalan Distillery pays tribute to the people whose name means “People of the plains”. The company is the only Taiwanese distillery in the world, having been built only nine years ago in 2005. Their products have already become legendary, having bested several Scottish and English whiskies in a blind tasting a few years ago. Even the venerable Whisky Magazine named the distillery the “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year” in 2011.
Amazingly enough, within such a short span of time, they have a broad range of products many of which have garnered awards at spirits competitions. Everything from single malts to specialized whiskies aged in ex-sherry, port, bourbon and wine barrels. With such an intense love of the craft, Kavalan will no doubt become one of the world’s finest distilleries in the 21st century.
Kavalan Classic Single Malt (80 proof)
Nose: Basic whisky notes of barley and wood
Taste: Light and sweet with a touch of honey and cinnamon. Think breakfast cereal in a glass.
Finish: Medium long with the main impression being that of malt.
Overall: A whisky that doesn’t force you in any particular direction. It knows what it is, and does its job well.
GSN Rating: B+
Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish (80 proof)
Nose: Light essence of malted barley with a deeper, more intense mid-range that is seductively charismatic.
Taste: The flavor quickly goes from an initial sweet fruitiness, to a dry woodiness and then finishes with a touch of characteristic port. The mouthfeel is amazingly delicate and subdued.
Finish: Medium long with sweet, fruity notes from the port barrel carrying the balance of flavors to the end.
Overall: A beautiful whisky that has softened and gained a more refined character from the cask. A perfect dessert to celebrate a special occasion.
GSN Rating: A
Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength (114 proof)
Nose: High bourbon cask notes indicate a powerhouse of aged American whisky imbued into the spirit.
Taste: Rich, intense and luscious. So much going on here that this is an experience, not just a whisky.
Finish: It goes on and on. A few sips and you have something to remember for several minutes.
Overall: Wow. Just killer. One of the finest bourbon barrel-aged whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.
GSN Rating: A++
Kavalan Solist Sherry Single Cask Strength (114 proof)
Visual: Dark brown.
Nose: Heavily sherried notes, give a deep intoxicating nose.
Taste: Initially the sherry character seems overwhelming, but it rapidly fades into the background while the whisky itself shines. Very rich on its own, this is a whisky that definitely needs some water to open up and develop. The sherry flavor itself is brilliant and mouth-watering.
Finish: Both the malted barley and the sherry flavors go on quite long and with equal intensity. At the far end, there is a curious touch of clove.
Overall: You’ll feel like you sipped a half shot of sherry and then a half shot of single malt. Intense and perfectly balanced.
GSN Rating: A-
Kavalan Solist Vinho Cask Strength (114 proof)
Visual: Dark gold.
Nose: Thick almost molasses notes with a vine fruit top note.
Taste: An almost effervescent mouthfeel with extreme high bright and crisp wine notes take your tongue dancing. Highly unusual and memorable. Wine, char, vanilla, oak, sweet malt, this one has it all.
Finish: Quite long with the wine notes going on far longer than possible.
Overall: A killer whisky that shouldn’t work as well as it does. I was amazed from the get-go at how well the flavor of the wine meshes with whisky. Honestly, I’m surprised there aren’t more whiskies like this out there.
GSN Rating: A+
For more information go to: Kavalan