I've hunted Kavalan for years, ever since I first heard about it from the Whisky Bible, whiskies that were no age statements and just legendary in flavor and aroma.
I hunted this distillery by calling liquor stores all over Australia and Scotland, trying to find somebody, any body, who had a bottle that they'd sell me.
No one had any bottles, no one had ever seen a bottle. Most never had even heard of Kavalan. I heard "Kavalawhat?" more times then you can count.
I finally managed to find the phone numbers for distillery showrooms in Taiwan whom I rang, and discovered that if you didn't speak Chinese you might have problems trying to order whisky.
I email them and get a reply back, yes they do indeed produce the whisky, however they won't ship outside of Asia. They have no plans on exporting it to Australia, however maybe in a few years they'll possibly export.
So for the next couple years whenever a friend went to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc etc etc I send them with money, hundreds of dollars, and orders to find me a bottle or two of these whiskies and bring them back to me.
They have no luck.
I see Kavalan on auction sites oh so rarely and bid madly for them when I see them. However I'm forced to drop out of the race when prices move into the hundreds of pounds for a 200ml bottle.
I think to myself, one day, one day I will put my hands on a bottle.
And then, quite by accident, after hunting it for years, it quite literally fell into my lap.
Working for a beer importer I talk to our reps all the time and being a whisky geek they know to keep an eye out for bottle shops with a good selection of whisky.
One day one of our reps tell me about this little bottle shop, almost an hours drive from my house, that is supposed to have a great selection of whiskies.
I follow them on Facebook and shortly after doing so, less then a week in fact, they post about a Kavalan tasting that they'll be hosting.
$30 for 7 samples plus a light dinner.
Now the week drags by until the day of the tasting, I've set aside money, lots of money in fact, once I confirm that they will have Kavalan for sell after the tasting.
When we arrive at the tasting, the bottle shop is literally everything that I've heard it is, wonderful selection of whisky at really reasonable prices.
We then head up to a little Italian restaurant for the whisky tasting and all I can say is that it looks like it's going to be fun.
On the tasting menu is a nice selection of whiskies, including 3 cask strengths: King Car Conductor, Kavalan Concertmaster, Kavalan Single Malt, Kavalan Soloist ex Bourbon Cask Strength, Kavalan Soloist Sherry Cask Strength, and Kavalan Soloist Vinho Cask Strength
The tasting is informative and nicely run, however the smells of the cooking food are overwhelming the whisky for me, especially considering the fact that I'm really trying to focus on the speaker, who it turns out is one of the owners of the company that will be running Whisky Live in Australia.
I decide that I won't be doing tasting notes for any of the whiskies that I don't purchase, but that's ok, because I'm getting a BIG kick out of these guys so I know I'm going to buy at least a couple.
End of the evening I walk away with one of each of the cask strength whiskies which really made my night. The ex Bourbon cask, the Sherry cask and the Vinho cask.
Tonight I sat down with the sherry cask strength and the first thing I can say is that it takes my breath away when I pour my dram into the glencairn, it's possibly one of the darkest whiskies I've ever seen.
Most of the Kavalan whiskies are aged for around five, six years or so. How do they get SO MUCH color into the whisky?!
Can't wait to get into it though so here we go!
Sweet baby jebus the nose!
Lovely, excellent sherry cask nose, beautifully put together. Toffee, sultanas, figs, nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla that slowly gets stronger, and hints of dried oranges.
The aroma alone just makes my mouth water and eager to take a sip.
Oh god it just gets better and better.
Thick, chewy mouthfeel that overflows with the sultanas, figs, dried cherries, heaps of spices from the nose and a tiny hint of coffee.
A long lingering dry finish that drops off in intensity fairly quickly, but then the hints of fruit, cherries and sultanas linger on and on, begging you to take another taste.
Hands down my favorite sherry bomb, period.
When I normally sample a dram for the first time, it's sample, notes and move on. This whisky is one of the few I've ever had that BEGS me to take another taste, so freaking moreish and so beautiful that I know I could drink my entire bottle in a single sitting (it is a 200ml bottle) and still want more.
This whisky definitely lived up to my expectations, actually it blew my expectations away, and I do believe I'll always have to have a bottle of this in my cabinet from now on.
Not the cheapest whisky in the world though, sitting at around $75 for 200mls at this point, but hopefully once you can more easily find bottles on the market the price will come down a bit, or the bottles will get bigger as it is almost too drinkable for a 200ml bottle.
If you ever get a chance to try this, don't walk to the tasting, RUN!