We were fortunate to be invited to take part in the Kavalan Twitter Whisky tasting, held last night. The tasting was hosted by Whisky Live Festival to celebrate the first Whisky Live Showroom in Pretoria. The twitter tasting was led by whisky expert Paul La Cock, also known in the twitterverse as the @WHiskyThiefZA and the owner of Aficionados, an online liquor shop.
Joining us for the tasting was a diverse group of people including:
Before we started with the tasting, Paul took us through some background on the Kavalan distillery. Kavalan is the only dedicated single malt distillery in Taiwan. They make use of similar production process and the same rules as Scottish whisky. Kavalan had their stills made in Scotland and they even have an Edinburgh-educated (Taiwanese) master blender – Ian Chang. The Kavalan unique character comes from maturation in a sub-tropical climate and creative use of different barrel types.
All the whiskies we tasted had some reference to music. Mr Lee, the distillery founder, is a big fan of classical music. There is a full size concert hall at the Kavalan distillery.
Also Read: Woman’s Day Twitter Tasting
Presented in an interesting green bottle, this whisky spent 3 years in ex-Bourbon barrels and was then finished in ruby, tawny and vintage Port barrels.
Colour: It has a rich golden colour with little hints of red.
Nose: There are notes of Port sweetness and herbals. Some fruity vanilla and condensed milk in the background.
Palate: Rich and smooth with a great mouth feel. There is spice, caramels and woody notes.
The Concertmaster pairs brilliantly with Lindt dark chocolate. The chocolate enriches the whisky wonderfully.
Kavalan King Car Conductor
This King Car Conductor expression was commissioned by Mr Lee to be the top offering in the permanent range. This is closest in style to the Kavalan Single Malt but involves 8 additional cask types and a higher proportion of ex-Sherry casks compared to their standard single malt offering. Both the Concertmaster and Conductor are part of the permanent, ‘multi-barrel’ range.
Colour: The colour is described as vivid amber, but it is notably lighter than the Concertmaster.
Nose: Huge complexity in the nose. There are cereals, barley, rich fruit and caramels.
Palate: There are notes of spice and oak with a bold character. Hints of coconut and citrus intermingling with banana sweetness.
We paired the King Car Conductor with dark chocolate liqueur soak cherries. The combination of dark chocolate and cherries made the coconut notes in the whisky stand out much more.
Kavalan Solist ex-Vinho Barrique
This whisky was recently named Best Single Malt in the world at World Whisky Awards 2015. It has an ABV of 57%.
Colour: The Solist ex-Vinho Barrique has a deep autumn colour
Nose: The nose brings berries, candied fruit, Christmas pudding and dark chocolate.
Palate: Loads of spice on the palette. Notes of cinnamon and pepper. There are hints of nuts floating about. It has a long lingering finish! It is rich and spicy.
The Kavalan Solist ex-Vinho Barrique did not pair with any of the chocolate we had in front of us. It was a lot more spicy than the other 2 expressions. It will probably pair better with a soft cheese.
A great evening was had by all. These are only half of the Kavalan expressions available in SA. The rest will be on show at the Whisky Live Showroom in Pretoria. We will certainly be tracking them down to make sure we taste as many as possible from this amazing distillery.
Related Article: Kavalan Solist Ex Bourbon Cask