Taiwanese Whisky

Review: Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
56.3%
Aging
First Fill Bourbon Barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This whisky, similar to the Fino cask I just reviewed, is Kavalan matured in an ex-bourbon barrel, bottled straight from the barrel.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask R061113041

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2012

The nose, indeed, has rich bourbon aromas - and is immediately complex, one of those noses that you know you can find much in if you take time to look. Brilliant oily corn, bourbon nuttiness, sour raisin, buttery vanilla pudding, earthy oak, nutmeg, dried mango….

 The palate has coconut, pear, peach crumble, corn, dried apricot, dried mango, banana cream pie, icing sugar dusted pastries (though this is not overly sweet) – and it’s not even very hot at 56.3%, and brilliantly syrupy.

Big and sweet finish. Some spice – and deep caramel toffee. Drying in the way that makes your mouth water a bit, which always makes you want to keep sipping.

Once again, not that great watered down, like the Fino cask - but I like it quite a bit more.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $225.


Review: Kavalan Sherry Oak Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
Oloroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This whisky is Kavalan matured in sherry casks, in a process similar to their distinguished Solist series, only bottled at 46% and in batches rather than single barrels.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

A lot of almost bitter rancio on the nose, but it slows down a bit and opens up to rich fruitcake, currants, marmalade, and apple seeds with some vanilla in the background. The palate shows a lot of caramel truffles, rich milk chocolate, prunes, raisins, rancio, brown sugar – but still earthy and savoury like some sherry sauce that has been used to deglaze frying caramelized mushrooms. Lots of rancio…and this is in some ways a bit more like a rancio-heavy brandy than a whisky. The finish is full of brown sugar and sherry, and some raisin-y tannins.

There’s a lot of sherry in there! The whisky does get a little lost…again, no complaints here – it is all very nice. This might be a point less if I didn’t like rancio so much…

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Nice stuff, but expensive at ~150$ CAD.


Review: Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
American Oak and then finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This whisky is finished in port casks - three kinds in fact (ruby, tawny, and vintage) after a maturation in American oak.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N.A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Very sweet on the nose – stewed plums and stewed peaches – but with a very intriguing earthy edge to it as well and quite significant black licorice. The barley comes through as well – earthy – but the wine is definitely there as well, and to me they don’t quite fit together perfectly – they aren’t integrated but rather quite separate without a good bridge. On the palate –a bit underpowered, with a lot of that licorice coming through and red wine tannins. It reminds me of a dried fruit chutney that I made once – with dried papaya, pineapples, mangos, and raisins cooked with sherry and star anise. Actually, that sums up the palate quite nicely. It finishes with a continued good grip of tannin and licorice, with a bit of clove, nutmeg, and a touch of rancio. Not really my style at all, particularly with the licorice dominating as it does.

Value: Low. This whisky isn’t up my alley, so I wouldn’t be interested in paying $130 for it. Others might though, depending on preference, but this is too discordant in the wrong areas for me.


Review: Kavalan Podium Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
Virgin Oak and Re-fill Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

I haven't been able to find this one in Canada, but it is available readily in other markets, coming in at a bit of a higher price (though not significantly) than the base expresssions. If you want a Kavalan - it's a good place to start.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Candied nuts galore – marzipan and praline – a brilliant and rich nose. Also dried mango, apricot, caramel, vanilla, oak, custard and dried banana. The palate comes through with a good dose of vanilla, very light oak, banana cream pie, plums, coconut, and, about ¾ of the way through the palate, I find brilliant light and fresh sweet creaminess – like vanilla pudding - which I love. The finish has oak, that dried fruit, and still that vanilla pudding. It reminds me of a better, and more refined, version of the standard Kavalan.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. I like the stuff, but it can be fairly expensive (in my case, around $150-180). The $80 range would be about right for this to shift it to the average category, for me.


Review: Kavalan Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This is the base single malt for the terrific distillery in Taiwan, Kavalan. Taiwan, in fact, is one of the big whisky markets in the world with many single malts (and Canadian whiskies) being exclusively sold there.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

A nice nose – with a few good wafts of bourbon! Light hay, caramel, prunes, very light dates, toffee, dried apricot, and a bit creamy…The palate has a nice body with a solid vanilla backbone and a touch of oak on the finish. Brown sugar, black cherry, fresh baking bread, with light creamy toffee on the finish with some clove, dried apricot, and very light oak and tannins.

Yes, “smooth”…and very nice…easy to drink, but not exceedingly interesting. However, this is exactly what I would want as the flagship malt for my distillery…so hat’s off to Kavalan. There isn’t anything wrong with it, it’s just not that interesting. Easy and enjoyable.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. At least in North America, this stuff is pretty expensive, often above $100 in Canada. I’m not inclined to pay that for this.