This week we’re kicking off a new monthly series in which we’ll explore some of our favourite whisky expressions of all time. These range from Japanese whisky, to world blends and expressions from top distilleries around Asia, including the multi-award-winning Kavalan.
Each and every expression highlighted is a marvel in its own right, combining years of passion, experience and skill to bring a delectable drinking experience to those lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle.
We’ll be kicking-off with a whisky from Taiwan’s Kavalan distillery that makes up part of their hugely successful Solist range and brings a distinctive array of aromas and flavours thanks to a unique maturation period – it’s the Kavalan Solist Rum Cask.
The Kavalan Distillery
Founded in Taiwan in 2005, the Kavalan Distillery has been making a name for itself ever since. Early on, they were lucky enough to attract Ian Chang, a world famous Master Distiller and protege of the legendary Dr. Jim Swan, to work at the distillery. He helped them form a strong identity through unique and delicious whiskies that, before long, were recognised around the world for their excellence.
Their early expressions – King Car Conductor, Kavalan Class and Concertmaster – were fantastic creations in their own right, but they were by no means world beaters. It was only when they began releasing their now hugely popular Solist range that whisky fans around the world really started to sit up and take notice.
The Solist range is made up of cask strength expressions, each of which has been matured in a first-fill cask which helps to bring a full, diverse array of aromas and flavours to the liquid housed inside.
Each cask used for the Solist range was hand-selected by Ian Chang, up until his recent move to Karuizawa Distillers, and he carefully monitored their progress throughout the maturation period.
It was with this range that Kavalan took it up a notch, in terms of both taste and design, and it wasn’t long before they were awarded for their quality on the world stage.
In 2012 the Solist Fino Sherry Cask was named “New Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Then, in 2015, they hit dizzy new heights when their Solist Vinho Barrique won “World’s Best Single Malt” at the prestigious World Whiskies Awards. As if that wasn’t enough, they followed up the very next year, winning 2016’s “World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt” with their Solist Amontadillo Sherry Single Cask whisky.
What Makes Kavalan Special?
So, beyond the previously mentioned, tireless work of one of the world’s finest Master Distillers and his colleagues, what goes into Kavalan that makes it so special?
According to Kaitlyn Tsai, the distillery’s Brand Ambassador who was recently awarded Brand Ambassador of the Year at the Whisky Magazine Awards, it’s all about the location and the ingredients.
When catching up with our very own Kilara Sen for dekanta TV, she stated: “Kavalan is located between two mountains. One is called Snow Mountain, it’s 3,686m high, and the other one is Central Mountain which is nearly 4,000m high. The spring water from these two mountains is filtered naturally as it descends, with the smaller size of water molecules, giving a sweeter mouthfeel. So Kavalan single malt actually possesses the signatures of tropical fruits and richness in its flavour as a result of this pure and clean spring water together with our warm and unique maturation.”
She went on to explain: “Because of the location in Yilan County, we receive all the cold winds from Siberia. It’s freezing cold for Taiwanese people, but leads to very good oxidation. The oxygen will go into the whisky and combine with the flavour compounds to make it more aromatic.”
As well as being incredibly interesting, this goes some way to explaining how Kavalan have managed to release relatively young whiskies that, when tasted, seem mature beyond their years.
Kavalan Solist Rum Cask
The Kavalan Solist Rum Cask release was the third of the distillery’s whiskies made available exclusively on dekanta and it broke new ground as the first in the Solist range to be matured in a rum cask.
It’s a truly fascinating release that combines the elegant, tropical fruitiness that Kavalan fans are used to, with a sticky, rich sweetness imparted by the cask.
The nose brings citrus fruits and brown sugar along with obvious hints of orange peel and vanilla from the rum cask. This meanders into cherries and candied peels on the palate, with subtle white pepper spice lingering behind.
Going into the bottle at a cask strength of 57.1%, this elegant whisky allows room for a significant amount of water to be added (depending on your taste of course). I found that with just one or two drops, the nose became richer, with dark chocolate, ginger and oak making themselves known, while the palate grew sweeter with gentle fruits, brown sugar and creamy molasses.
It’s a delightful, truly accomplished single malt whisky of which only 152 bottles were produced, with even less remaining on the shelves today.
At dekanta, we’re huge fans of Kavalan and we are proud to be able to offer some of their excellent single cask bottlings as exclusives. The distillery has achieved so much in such a short space of time and we’re sure they have many more exciting whiskies planned for us in the years ahead.
For this week only you can save 15% on the Kavalan Solist Rum Cask by entering promocode “WHISKYOFTHEMONTH” at the checkout. Click here to Buy Now.