My first brush with this legendary distillery was through their insanely awesome Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry. I mean it literally grabbed me by the tenders and swung me through the air. There was no way I was prepared for that type of sensory onslaught. But one thing was certain, I was going to find out more.
I ran into a couple of more Kavalans in the next few months and was equally impressed. My curiosity grew. As did my appetite for whiskies from this Asian phenom and, given the slew of awards being won by them, I was obviously not alone in my opinion.
The brand Kavalan is owned by a Taiwanese group called King Car which, when you check their website, you realise is a massive industrial giant producing everything from root beer, processed foods, coffee, green tea, water to, of course, whisky. While the facade may seem monolithic there is certainly something wonderful happening behind those whisky doors to produce spirit of such brilliant quality.
While most of their expressions carry the name Kavalan they have also released one called the Conductor and is named after the distillery, King Car. There's not a lot of literature to go around regarding this specific release except that it's been composed of eight casks, two of which are bourbon and sherry and the rest only Ian Chang, the master distiller knows.
My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 46%
Rose water. Dark honey. Sherry oak. Red berries. Wild berries. Black salt. Chocolate. Betel nut lead. Tobacco lead. Cigar box. Quite herbaceous. Leafy greens. It's quite crisp. It has more of a sherry attack than bourbon which might shed some light on the remaining casks in play. Overall I like it. 22/25
Dark honey again. Bitter chocolate - the kind I like. Sweet molasses. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Rock salt. Tobacco. Red berries. Once again I feel the sherry is the dominant force here. Probably some type of Oloroso cask. It's quite a lovely crisp palate. There's a certain tanginess to it too which I quite like. 23/25
Nice and long. Spicy. Touch of oak. Oily. Pomegranate. 22/25
I wish there was more info to be had so that I could really see how the various components had been put together. It's not as good as the Solist series but certainly better than the core range. Solid whisky with absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Your reveiw has me interested. I tried to find out more about what's in it. For what it's worth, I found this on K&L's website from David Driscoll...
"After so much time spent merely reading about the great single malt whiskies from Taiwan's Kavalan distillery, we can finally get our hands on them here in the states! The first release from Kavalan back in 2008 was their classic single malt expression that uses ex-sherry, ex-Bourbon, and ex-wine casks of between four and four and a half years of age for the marriage. The King Car uses that formula with twice the sherry, and it's this whisky that I suggest those who are looking to try out one selection from the Kavalan portfolio begin with. The first thing that strikes you as you taste it is how un-youthful it is. It might as well be a 12 year old malt from the Scottish Highlands, but with an incredible supple-fruited character. It tastes like well-made, mature, Scottish single malt with extra concentration. It's new and exciting, yet familiar and easy-to-place."
@MaltActivist, I am glad to see you review this one. Thanks for another very well done and informative review. At Spirit of Toronto in 2014 I hung around the Kavalan stand for quite awhile and tasted 5 of the 6 whiskies they had available. By the time I got back to try the King Car, they had poured it all out, and I missed it.
"...not as good as the Solist series, but certainly better than the core range." gives me most of the information I am looking for, along with your 89 rating. We have King Car available here where I live now, but I consider it a bit expensive at near $ 100.
Like you I am a big fan of the Kavalan Solist Sherry and also of the Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique.