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Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish

Average score from 8 reviews and 14 ratings 82

Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish

Product details

  • Brand: Kavalan
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 40.0%

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Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish

Colour: light brown with red. Nose: At first smell to me it’s sawdust or burnt wood (light), that smell you get when you drill through wood then it eases to be more like fresh oak wood chips, then some cake spices like allspice come out. The port is obvious though.  Palate: Big start like diluted honey, but it moves away fast mid-palate with brown sugar or candy but that also doesn’t last long. Finish: Longer finish, with more spices, tobacco and berries mixed taking you back to the characteristics in the nose. A pleasant whisky, to me very enjoyable but a bit forgettable, the nose and first half of the palate are the best for me, it fades away fast but mildly lingers long and DRY (seems like a trademark of Kavalan).

@Victor @Nozinan @BlueNote @paddockjudge I bet Collingwood would be the one going for the "9.09% beaver drippings". Wiser's could go for the moose and Gibson for the loon or the goose. And I will add that Glenora would probably go for seal's bacon. stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

@Victor_ 9.09% BEAVER DRIPPINGS" now that would be a polarizing dram...beaver tail barrique and a full rack house.


Since they bottled their first whisky at the King Car distillery back in 2008, Kavalan has been hot news, stringing together many trophies from both the industry and the independent connoisseurs alike. Me, I’m still not buying into the hype, to me it is clear that the distiller’s tactics are quite unorthodox, offering their best casks to the judges, while releasing their good to mediocre under the same name to the general public. The first thing you'll notice while trying a Kavalan is that the essence of the whisky is still quite young and the palate is often intentionally camouflaged with a thick layer of external aromas. When the Taiwanese discovered the "benefits" of wood finishes for their NAS whiskies, they decided to exploit the technique and push it to its boundaries. Their port cask finished edition called “Concertmaster” is just another child of this tragedy, dousing the new make in not one, not two, but three different port casks: Ruby, Tawny and Vintage.

Description: bottled at 40%, golden in colour (no strange shades of pink here)without the addition of E150.

Nose: a strange mix of pine juice drenched in prune & wine vinegar, far more noticeable are the effects of the wood leaving behind traces of nuts, liquorice and smoke.

Mouth: a nervous and feisty alcoholic attack, but your tongue quickly punctures a hole in the palate and it all falls flat. Honeyed dates, black tea, and fresh oak wood

Finish: short, notes of ginger, chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon

Verdict: Maybe Port finishes are just not my cup of tea, but this style of whisky just doesn't agree with me. The whole premise feels too fabricated on the one hand: rather a cocktail of liquor and fortified wine than a proper whisky. On the other the spirit tastes immature. Concertmaster? more like a choir boy!

@Pandemonium, thanks for your review. "...nervous" body" I like the choice of word!

I am with you in not liking the Kavalan Concertmaster. The flavours here are a little weird, and don't hold together too well. I've had Concertmaster a couple of times and never found it a pleasant experience.

I've tried 5 Kavalans and Concertmaster is the only one I actively dislike. A couple of them, the standard Kavalan Malt, and another of theirs from bourbon casks, were ok, and the Solist Sherry I tasted and the Solist Barrique were excellent. Of the five I would only consider the Solist Sherry and Solist Vinho Barrique releases ones I would want to own bottles of.

Thanks Victor, the bottle came as a present so I didn't waste any money on it. Got a bottle of the Solist Barrique on the shelf, which I will be reviewing shortly. I would love to compare notes on that one as well.


This is my first experience with Taiwanese Whisky. It is finished on Portugese port casks, both Ruby, Tawny and Vintage Port. It has a golden tawny colour but there is no E150 added, it's all natural.

The nose is sweet, rich and fruity. Sticky dates, plums and dark fruits.

The palate offers toffee and is gently warming. There are rich fruits including mango and berries. There is a strong port influence which you would expect.

The finish it short and sweet. It has a freshness and ends with a slightly bitter spiced tang.

It's nice but it's not rounded enough. The idea is good, the execution is not quite there. Worth trying nice but not great.

You're quite right about this one being nice but "not quite there." Definitely one of the weaker Kavalans. I suggest you try some of their Solist releases. Damn good stuff from a distillery that's less than 10 years old.

@hunggar Good tip, I will keep my eyes peeled for some of these. I was still fairly impressed but in the UK they are pricey compared to (the much more locally produced) Scotch that is basically on our doorstep.


On those I agree with most other reviews as well; very tropical! Sits in well with my all-a-around and adventurous taste. I can already imagine why Asia could be crazy for this, little hints of similarities with maybe Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or? It has perhaps a little strawberry mixed creme brule on the nose mixed with loads off tropical fruits and also red berries, most likely the wanted result of the Port-wine cask. Somewhere there hidden behind the fruit and berries is some sour candy as well?

The palate is in balance with the nose, first you get the warmth of the tropical sun and pleasantly spreads to your mouth if you let it take it's time. It's got the same fruity-berriness in that was present on the nose, but also packs in some spices and brown sugar caramel. After a few sips, you also start sensing some more of the oak.

Finish is little short, which is somewhat of a disappointment as otherwise the whisky is extremely enjoyable. You can get some hints of cocoa, port and berries.

To describe it with one word: Red.

The Kavalan Consertmaster might not the best choice for ultra-peat lovers, but, for someone who enjoys smoky ones and appreciates variety, this could be a great one! But me? Not as good as the bit pricier Solist-range, but I enjoyed it!


One of my most favorite whiskies in the world is the Kavalan Solist Fino - a powerhouse of a malt that packs a delicious punch. So it was with a sense of positive anticipation that I approached this port cask finish from the Taiwanese distillery.

The nose is the slightly overcooked aroma of coconut rice pudding; left on the burner for a while. Tropical fruits like mango and papaya are then added to the pot with a sprinkle of nuts passed through a delicate floral mist.

The tropical journey continues on the palate with a fruity milky disposition. But I think the mere 40% ABV held back the performance a touch.

The finish, though, left me wanting as it scurried away in a hurry. I would have liked to savor it a bit longer.

This malt will not blow your mind but neither will it disappoint.


This is the second whisky under the Kavalan label, from 2009, and it was finished on Portugese port casks, both Ruby, Tawny and Vintage Port. No spirit caramel for this Concertmaster. The port casks gave it enough color as it is.

Oh, my, this nose is even sweeter and more tropical than the Kavalan Single Malt. Not unexpectedly, I get mostly red fruit, like berries, strawberries and raspberries. Again, the banana is there, this time around sprinkled with brown sugar. Black grapes too. Mild tannins. Very nice.

It is fresh and fruity. Nervous, if you know what I mean. The port really takes control now. Red fruit, but also banana (again) and mango. Gooseberries too. Caramal rears its head.

The short finish is fresh and fruity, but towards then end it becomes rather astringent.

Not bad at all, but a little too sweet and in the end somewhat winey on the finish, making it drop quite a bit in my book.


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!

Apparently Chinese doesn't work on this website. Okay, I'll write it in English.

Suggestion to the distiller: This whiakey has an absolutely beautiful, natural colour. You should use a transparent bottling for this release.

@Victor: I can appreciate that. If my score is any indication, this is no epic whisky. For me, it has its charms. But my appreciation for this also stems from the price. Unlike the astronomical prices Kavalan fetches abroad, this whisky is quite cheap here. In fact, it's almost in the realm of budget whisky. In that context alone, it's not bad. But I shudder to think what they're asking for it in other parts of the world.


Colour: Copper Red. This one is not coloured with caramel which is a good start

Nose: If you thought the previous Kavalan was tropical , be ready for more surprises. This one is Ultra tropical. Even more than the regular version. In addition there is quite a lot of Prune jam, some oak and wine notes. Palate: Sweet plum sugar, Tamarind , Fruits mostly plum and prunes. Tropical and sugary. Prune jam is back on the second wave of flavours sensation.

Finish: Lingering on sweet fruit jam and bitter oak. Sugars and wee cocoa.

Bottom line:

This is a very sweet and tropical dram, with a lot of jam and prunes going on , the Port cask finish in my opinion lends too much sweetness on top of the intrinsic character of the spirit. It can make a nice desert dram, to be consumed at the end of a meal, or with some liver Pate for starters. I do prefer the ‘Naked’ Kavalan without this finish, when it comes to the core range of 40% Kavalans.

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