Water of Life – Kavalan’s celebration of the fourth decade of the King Car Group
Kavalan is one of those distilleries that might go under the radar of the most dedicated whisky aficionado until, well, until you get to try any of its expressions. This might be partly due to the fact that Taiwan is not necessarily having a reputation for creating quality whiskies and that it the uninitiated might label it as an exotica.
Anyone who has had the fortune of trying from Kavalan’s exquisite range, will attest to the fact that they have yet to release an underwhelming expression and that the distillers have mastered the craft of not only creating a delicious base spirit, but introduced a level of quality when it comes to the curation of their casks that in terms of consistency does not have a lot of rivals.
Needless to say that I was more than mildly excited when I learned that Kavalan was going to release a whisky aged in red wine casks to mark the fortieth anniversary of King Car Group.
Now, I love peat and smoke and anything from Islay would need to be pretty bad to at least not get a nod of approval from me.
However, Kavalan is one of the distilleries that produces fruity expressions that make my palate celebrate with the anniversary release not being an exception: Having matured in red wine casks, what materializes on my nostrils is an exercise in complexity ranging from oak undertones via a unique melange of spicy Cabernet Sauvignon nuances to wafts of berries.
What then materialized on the roof of my mouth in all its thick, textured glory meanders between the poles of spiciness and toffee notes and does it in a manner that keeps you on your toes as every time you think it has subsided, a new facet reveals itself and adds another layer of depth. Claiming that the finish is “elongated” would be an understatement par excellence as hours later, I’d still taste its delicious aftertaste.
Apart from this special release, I finally made the acquaintance of the Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask. Now, when we talk Kavalan-esque “peat”, it is not remotely in a league with what is commonly referred to as peaty whisky.
This expression has been aged in casks that previously matured peated whisky, so it is not further wondrous that it is defined by a sophisticated subtlety, which in terms of aromas is embedded ion fruits, almonds and spicy, peppery notes.
On the palate there are vestiges of my beloved peat smoky, yet again it is enriched by zesty flavours, which seamlessly transition into a finish that culminates in a marriage of vanilla and pepper. Sounds intriguing? Well, wait until you try this well-rounded drop.
Another new release is the Sherry Finish, which is released as part of the Concertmaster range – a telling name as it has spent the final stint in Sherry casks after spending time in Kavalan’s special reserve refill casks.
On the nose, I felt instantly reminded of the French Armorik as decadent aromas of crème brûlée are prevalent.
With nutty flavours being dominant, I specifically like the dark chocolate flavours with its fruity highlights, which again highlights the x-factor of most of Kavalan’s expressions, i.e. Taiwan’s unique subtropical climate.
I’d say that you should use the next chance you get to sample Kavalan’s emissions but given how well it is being received by whisky lovers, I’d recommend making a deliberate effort to get your hands on some while it is still easily available.
Photos by T
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