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This is the second standard bottling from Taiwan's Kavalan distillery. It's matured in American oak casks and finished in port casks. Thanks to the port influence, it doesn't need the e150 additive and has a lovely natural reddish brown hue. It's not as refreshing as the "Single Malt," but it's a little bit more bodied and intensely sweet. If the original is a light presentation, this would be the dessert presentation.
Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, burnt honey, cacao, nuts, and ripe red fruits. Other online reviews claim this is a 'tropical' dram. It's got some exotic light fruitiness to it, but less so than the original single malt. The port notes shine through and offer a grapey, winey appeal.
Palate: Creamy. Smooth. Loads of caramel and robust, luscious, warming sweetness. Plums. Lyle's Golden Syrup. Apples. Gooseberries? Grapes, but not as much port notes as the nose suggests. In the finish we get a hint of oaky bitterness and unsweetened cinnamon. A bit short lived.
The port barrels truly set it apart from it's less intense brother, the single malt. It's not as bodied as the lovely notes on the nose suggest. I feel more maturity is needed to let these lovely Christmassy, desserty flavours linger and dance on the palate. In my experience, wine and sherry wood finishes seem to work best when coupled with a more matured, sturdy, confident, and bodied foundation. The port flavours offered by the cask seem to be of wonderful quality, so if given a few more years to mature, this could be stellar. Also, I feel this should be bottled at at least 46% for the added kick.
Being a dessert dram, I might equate this whisky to a store-bought dessert. It's flavourful and sweet, but it doesn't have the warmth, complexity, and distinctive character and that you get with a Mom's home-made apple pie or Christmas cake.
But, hey, I'm still gonna eat it!