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Taiwanese Whisky

It’s hard to believe given the success of the category that the first Taiwanese whiskies were only released back in 2008 King Car Group’s Kavalan brand. Known for mass producing bottled water and canned coffee, King Car were inspired by the country’s relatively huge consumption for Scotch in recent years.

The Kavalan distillery itself opened in 2005 with an ambition to create a fruit-centred spirit style from a willingness to experiment with multiple cask types and what is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of whisky production from this region: the rapid maturation caused by Taiwan’s tropical climate. The percentage of spirit lost to angels share can be as high as 12% to 15%, whereas with Scotch it’s closer to 2%, which means much of the whisky disappears rapidly. This is a costly reality that also provides the potential for an exceedingly over-aged spirit. This means it is simply not cost-effective to make whisky that could compete with Scotch aged 12 to 21 years, so Taiwanese whiskey distillers, Kavalan and Nantou, have pursued different goals.

A significant part of this process is understanding and harnessing the area's high temperatures (it can average 33 degrees Celsius in the summer) and sweltering humidity. The acceleration of the interaction of the spirit with the wood barrels has been utilised positively in Taiwan. The shorter maturation period means that in just four to six years a whisky can be produced that is arguably comparable to a Scotch that has been aged for 15 or 25 years. As one of the pioneers of this process, alongside Australian and Indian whisky, the island’s whisky makers have been able to capitalise on the tropical climate and provide an interesting perspective for those tend to judge whiskeys quality based on its age.

Taiwan itself has earned a reputation in just over a decade as a favourite category and destination for whisky connoisseurs. It is now available in more than 60 countries and in 2015 it ranked as the fourth largest market by value for Scotch, behind the US, France, and Singapore, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. A slew of awards have matched this popularity, with Kavalan winning more than 220 awards, including World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” for Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique from the prestigious World Whiskies Awards in 2015, while the Solist Amontillado was named the “World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt Whisky” at the same awards in 2017. The future is bright, too. Kavalan have announced plans to increase its production capacity to produce 9 million liters, which would make it one of the largest single malt whisky distilleries in the world and comparable in size to the oldest official Scottish distillery, The Glenlivet.

Taiwanese whiskies include Kavalan editions such as Kavalan Single Malt Whisky, Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique and Kavalan Sherry Oak. The Omar brand is distilled at Nantou and currently features both a bourbon and a sherry edition.

Kavalan Solist Port Cask (57.1%)

70cl, 57.1%
Kavalan

Taiwanese single malt whisky from the Kavalan range, drawn from a single Port cask and bottled as part of their Solist range at cask strength. An intensely flavoursome expression.  More info

Kavalan Solist Port Cask (57.1%)
$122.31

Kavalan Solist Pedro Ximenéz Cask (57.1%)

70cl, 57.1%
Kavalan

A Pedro Ximenéz Sherry cask matured Taiwanese single malt from the Kavalan range, bottled at 57.1% ABV. These are incredible popular indeed, and it packs a massively well-Sherried punch.  More info

Kavalan Solist Pedro Ximenéz Cask (57.1%)
$432.78

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique

70cl, 57.1%
Kavalan

Taiwanese single malt whisky from the Kavalan range, matured in casks that have previously held both red and white wine. Very intriguing indeed - and very impressive too...  More info

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique
$215.33

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (59.4%)

70cl, 59.4%
Kavalan

Taiwanese single malt whisky from the award-winning Kavalan range, produced by King Car.This particular expression matured in casks that previously held bourbon before being bottled at cask strength.…  More info

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (59.4%)
$121.21

Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Cask

70cl, 56.3%
Kavalan

Single cask Taiwanese whisky matured in a top quality Fino Sherry butt. Each bottle comes complete with a presentation box and carry bag! The whisky is pretty darned good too, named the Best New…  More info

Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Cask
3
$291.58

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Matured 58.6%

70cl, 58.6%
Kavalan

Award-winning single Oloroso Sherry cask matured whisky from Taiwan, bottled with neither chill filtration nor artificial colouring. The outturn was 507 bottles.  More info

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Matured 58.6%
1

Kavalan Solist Port Cask (59.4%)

70cl, 59.4%
Kavalan

Kavalan's Solist range boasts a selection of fantastic Taiwanese single malt whiskies bottled at cask strength. This particular release was drawn from a Port cask, resulting in a richly rosy hue and…  More info

Kavalan Solist Port Cask (59.4%)
1
$140.61

Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask

70cl, 52.4%
Kavalan

An intriguing release from Taiwan's King Car distillery, presented as part of their Kavalan Solist range. This expression is allowed to mature in casks that previously matured peated whisky - which…  More info

Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask
1

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique (57.8%)

70cl, 57.8%
Kavalan

To mature their Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique expression, the King Car distillers in Taiwan use casks which have held both red and white wines, before being re-toasted. The whisky is fully matured in…  More info

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique (57.8%)
13

Kavalan Solist Moscatel Cask (57.1%)

70cl, 57.1%
Kavalan

A rich, expressive Taiwanese single malt whisky from the Kavalan Solist range, drawn from a single cask and bottled at 57.1% ABV. Handsomely presented, and jam-packed with character.  More info

Kavalan Solist Moscatel Cask (57.1%)
$321.08

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (57.8%)

70cl, 57.8%
Kavalan

Solist is German for 'Soloist', which in this case refers to the fact that this expression is from Kavalan's single cask range (they really, really like musical metaphors). Given this whisky is of…  More info

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (57.8%)
11
$118.80

Kavalan Solist Moscatel Cask

70cl, 56.3%
Kavalan

This edition of Kavalan's Solist single malt Taiwanese whisky was drawn from casks that previously held Moscatel Sherry. This has imparted a full-bodied fruit sweetness to the intriguing whisky.  More info

Kavalan Solist Moscatel Cask
2
$362.45

Kavalan Solist Pedro Ximénez Cask

70cl, 56.3%
Kavalan

From the King Car Distillery in Taiwan comes another addition to the Kavalan Solist range! This particular expression was drawn from a cask that previously held intensely sweet Pedro Ximénez Sherry.  More info

Kavalan Solist Pedro Ximénez Cask
$486.94

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (56.3%)

70cl, 56.3%
Kavalan

A Solist or 'soloist' (i.e. single cask - formerly holding bourbon in this case) release from King Car distillery in Taiwan. Cask strength and bottled without chill filtration.  More info

Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask (56.3%)

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Matured (cask 60821049)

70cl, 57.8%
Kavalan

Oloroso Sherry matured single cask whisky from Taiwan, bottled without artificial colouring or chill filtration. Now finally available in Europe, Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask won a Double Gold Medal at…  More info

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Matured (cask 60821049)
15

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