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Kavalan Single Malt Whisky

Three year old Taiwanese freshness.

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

25th Feb 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Overall
    82

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Let me start by saying that I've been living in Taiwan for years. This country is extremely passionate about whisky and its one of the best priced places in the world to be a whisky consumer. Low taxes and a high per-capita consumer rate means Taiwan gets special special offers and special prices from many of the Scottish distilleries. After all, it is the 5th biggest whisky consumer in the world.

That being said, I feel I've spent too much time focusing on Scottish whiskies distilled half a world away. Shame on me. I'll be visiting the Kavalan distillery next month so I've taken it upon myself to familiarize myself with the brand and its range. Kavalan whiskies are Taiwanese in origin, but they are made using Scottish techniques in a modern, high-tech distillery. It is the new and much talked-about up and comer in the world of whisky brands, and rightly so.

I'll start with the entry-level bottling. The named "Single Malt." It's been matured in bourbon casks for only three years, although you wouldn't think so.

Nose: Tropical and vibrant. It's got hints of melon and coconuts, which is quite unique. Aside from that, it's a pretty straight forward light bourbon nose. Vanilla, honey, cereal, and a mild zestiness. No harshness, or citrussy burn that comes with immature whiskies. How is this only 3 years old?

Palate: Fresh. Light. Zesty. A bit creamy, with lemon zest, vanilla, light honey, a bit of oak, cereal... basically everything that the nose promised. Really nice, refreshing honey notes. Quality honey. Not a long finish, but it lingers nicely. The fresh and vibrant flavours dance about with remarkable consistently throughout the experience. Consistently simple and pleasant. Good stuff.

A straight forward and vibrant little dram. Quite inoffensive, light and bourbony. A lot of people would like this, but a limited few would love it, as the flavour profile is quite middle-of-the-road. However, there a melony, banana, coconutty tropical aspect to this dram that does set it apart. What's worth noting is that this three year old could easily hold it's own against a much more mature Scotch.

The distillery was only built in 2006, yet it's already releasing bottles that are winning international tasting competitions and putting older Scotches to shame. I can only imagine the caliber of whiskies they'll be releasing in a few years time. The warmer climate here is certainly serving this brand well, and I think this distillery has a very, very bright future.

Next up: Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt.

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4 comments

@mct
mct commented

Agreed on the bright future of the distillery. Bottles of this brand have already replaced the staple JW black & double black in asian weddings and ceremonies.

I'm just a little put-off about the Kavalan name. It's a taiwanese brand trying to sound like a scotch (i dunno the origin of the word but it's not really marketed as an obvious taiwanese export)

Why not just be real like yamazaki?

6 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Kavalan is the name of a pre-Chinese aboriginal tribe native to the region of Taiwan where they make the whisky.

6 years ago 0

@mct
mct commented

yup but the chinese Pinyin script isnt supposed to sound all western. Even the root pinyin Ga Ma Lan shouldnt be written as one word

6 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

I believe that's already the name of a major bus company here that predates the distillery. As for the spacing... couldn't tell you. It might just be easier to market it to non-Chinese buyers.

6 years ago 0

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