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- Brand: Nantou
- ABV: 46%
Up until recently Kavalan was the only Taiwanese distillery on the map. And while I love me some Kavalan, I’m happy to say that things are changing. Over the past couple of years, there’s been a new Taiwanese whisky creeping onto the scene. It’s called Nantou Distillery. Unlike Kavalan, which is corporate owned, this one is run by TTL, or Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor. Basically, it’s a government brand. Alright, then.
The distillery only started production in 2008. Of course this means their whiskies are quite young. But Taiwan is a warmer climate, so we can still expect good things. They’ve been putting out cask strength limited releases for a couple of years, but they now have a duo of whiskies at 46% that we might call their core range. The whiskies are both entitled “Omar,” one being bourbon matured and the other sherry. I’ve got the sherry here with me today. The label clumsily states “It’s the best choice for you.” Well, I hope so.
Nose: Crisp, clear, fruity, and sweet on the nose. Sweet sherry, caramel, butter, custard apple (or sugar apple), pineapple, anise, fresh grass, apple cider, and dessert pastries. Inviting.
Palate: Medium bodied, but slightly oily. A calm, semi-bitter arrival keeps the sweetness in check. Apples, anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, pineapple, lemon, caramel, butter, grass, and custard apple.
Finish: Subsides rather quickly, and the lingering notes bring some tropical sweetness forward. Banana, nuts, cream, apple cider, pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg, grass, and anise. The notes here aren’t nearly as clear as they were on the nose.
Thoughts: While I prefer the bourbon-matured Omar, this is still a fresh and approachable dram. The Taiwanese climate can get a lot done in a few short years. This is particularly delicious neat, as water tends to drown out the lovely baking spices that compliment the fruit flavours. As a sherried whisky, it’s not too sweet or heavy. I appreciate it when the sherry casks don’t eclipse the base flavours of a spirit. This has a nice sherry influence, but the character of the distillate hasn’t been overwhelmed.
Ok, so it’s not an epic dram by any standard, and I don’t want to seem too enthusiastic here. The clarity and complexity of the nose gets weaker on the palate, and is almost gone by the finish. And the character itself could be a bit more stylish, if you know what I mean. But it’s off to a hell of a start. I’m glad to see another quality single malt out of Taiwan. And considering the brand is just getting off the ground, I think we’re on the right track.