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Kavalan Taiwanese Whisky

By Dominic Roskrow

I know Taiwan has a love of Scotch, but how big is the market and is it growing?

According to the Wall Street Journal, per capita, the Taiwanese rank third in whisky consumption in 2010, after drinkers in the United Kingdom. and France. We account for 41 per cent of all whisky sales in Asia. It is interesting that Taiwan’s taste for fine Scotch whisky has risen quickly: In 2009, the island imported 303,000 cases of single-malt, about eight times as many as in 2002.

Who made then decision to make whisky and why?

The founder of the King Car group, Mr. TT Lee made the decision. He has been hoping to build a distillery offering the unique Taiwanese whisky to international consumers and hopes to be one of the pioneers in the whisky industry. The distillery is the first and only distillery in Taiwan at the moment.

What were the biggest challenges?

The issue of age statement. We are now holding tasting sessions to share our ideas, explaining why Kavalan can be so smooth and mellow in a shorter period of maturation time.

How important was Dr Jim Swan?

He assists us in cask selection, product quality and distillation.

How quickly was the project carried out?

The plan was initiated in January 2002, construction started in April 2005 and the distillery was completed in December 2005 in just nine months! Installation and trial runs were carried out between January and March 2006. The first drop of new make was produced at 1530 hours, 11th March, 2006

What is the thinking behind the whisky's names?

Kavalan is the name of the ethnic group living in Yilan, where our distillery is located. It's an indigenous tribe which is diligent and hard-working. We use the natural resources of the neighbourhood. In addition, our founder, Mr. TT Lee, was born in this beautiful place and wanted to give something back to the community he had lived in.

Have you been surprised by the amount of critical acclaim you have had?

We have been surprised and also honoured to receive acclaim which is a great encouragement for us. We will keep moving forward.

Where do you export to?

We export to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia , Vietnam and the Republic of Cyprus at present.

Do you sell whisky in Taiwan and if so, who drinks it and is it accepted?

Yes, we sell our whisky in Taiwan. Basically the whisky experts and enthusiasts are our target customers and we have received credits from them. The whisky is also widely consumed in general in Taiwan.

What are the plans for Kavalan in the future?

The eighth expression will be released very soon. Further, we are preparing to launch our whisky in the United States and Europe.