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Kavalan distillery is located in the northern part of Taiwan, 60 kilometres south of Taipei. It was built over an eight month period in 2005 and 2006 and uses copper stills that were constructed in Scotland. The distillery boasts an annual capacity of approx. 3.9 million litres. The name of 'Kavalan' is taken from a group of indigenous people who once lived in Yi-Lan County where the distillery is based. The Solist Sherry Cask is a three-year old cask-strength whisky that was matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and was released in 2009.
The nose reveals deep, rich sherry notes, followed by dried fruits such as figs, raisins, and prunes. Astonishing depth for a three-year old whisky! Sadly an acidic note is hanging over the whole. With water the acidic element disappears, revealing sweet peaches and milk chocolate.
The palate resembles a weird rollercoaster ride. It starts full-bodied and boasting, then gets very peppery and thin at the same time, almost to the point of becoming watery. There are again prunes and peaches, now joined by sweeter notes like red currant syrup.
The finish is of medium length and quite warming, beginning with a wave of pepper across the tongue, then getting sweeter and sweeter towards the end with syrup and jelly beans galore.
I am very impressed by the fact that this single malt is only three years old. If I was given this in a blind tasting I would definitely say that it is much older. So kudos to the people at Kavalan for putting this together! Sadly I was a bit put off by the acidic note hanging over the nose, and the sweetness during the finish was simply too much for me. I am being told that the sweetness is important to consumers in mainland China which is the most important market apart from Taiwan. That might be the case, but this is not what I am looking for in a whisky.