Thursday, September 08, 2016

Kavalan - And The First In the Region to Taste the Award Winning Amontillado Cask Bottle

When I first heard the name Kavalan, a few years ago, I thought it was an Indian Single Malt, to be honest.  Pardon my ignorance.  But since then, of course, the name has grown in fame and stature, and is almost synonymous as a Taiwan landmark if you must.

I'm glad I was invited for this event, because, apart from the spirit-ual benefits, it really was very eye opening, because everything is so vastly different from the familiar Scottish way or even the Japanese way, and I found it fascinatingly educational.

The venue was a cool one, the Vault, in Tmn Sri Hartamas, easy parking for a speakeasy (although Ash, the uber cool Bar Manager took pains to explain to me the real meaning of a "speakeasy"...but for Malaysian purposes, it is a speakeasy lah), with an intriguing entrance, like to a Vault.

This exciting line up was ours for the tasting.....

Starting of course with the Kavalan classic, which was very drinkable, though I found it a bit harsh at the first taste, maybe because my resting palate was still asleep.  By the second shot, it was more palatable.

Yim Teng, one of the bosses of Single and Available, took the floor to introduce us the the lovely Erica Chung, from the Export Department of Kavalan Whisky...which is under the larger umbrella of King Car Food Industrial Co Ltd, Taiwan.

The distillery was built in 9 months, and actually started because the owner, (who has a host of other businesses, from Mr Brown Coffee, to fast food to now KAVALAN) had a passion for whisky, and realised the subtropical climate of Taiwan is ideal for faster maturation.  A unique interaction between the spirit and oak under the higher temperatures (compared to say Scotland) makes Kavalan different.

By the way, (and ahem, proud to say it was me who asked the question), the name Kavalan originates from that region of Yi Lan.

Like many ventures, initially the idea of setting up a distillery had little support from shareholders.  However, the older generation were rather happy to have their own brand of whisky.  So as they say, the rest is history, and clearly the brand has grown from strength to strength...sweeping awards the way Meryl Streep wins Oscars.

The average casking is about 4 years for the normal NAS brands and for the more premium Solist range, it's between 5-7 years.  The whiskies are named after music, and Solist for example, is a shortened "SOLOIST".  Concertmaster obviously speaks for itself.

The Kavalan Classic is a lively passionate amber, with a pleasnt floral fruity scent on the nose, and a hint of mango juice on the palate.  It's apparently also listed in the "101 World Whiskies to try before you die" book...oh well, that's ONE item struck off my bucket list. then,

The Port Cask Concertmaster used Portuguese ruby, tawny and vintage Port wine casks, and the green bottling is also a protection like for wines, against sunlight etc.  A dark brown colour, with nose of honey, vanilla, and a rich bodied palate.

Solist Port Cask, as the name implies, is matured in a port barriques cask, and has that rich full bodied flavour, a tinge of sweetness, and well, very strong.  Definitely a luxury drink, one can taste the "priciness" of the drink if you know what I mean.

And finally, the Piece De Resistance of the night, the newly unveiled Kavalan Amontillado, matured in Amontillado casks, which won the World's Best Single Cask Whisky Award for 2016.

On the nose, hints of raisin and coconut. And a whole cornucopia of flavours on the palate, from fruit to wood to caramel.

We were very privileged to be the first in the region to be able to taste this fine tipple, thanks to the good peeps at Single and Available.

Erica, Me and the  Amontillado

Last Men and Women Standing...

Do check out Single and Available at their facebook page for upcoming offers and tastings

By the way, that Amontillado retails in excess of RM1,500 I think (from what I recall from a hazy stupor) so yeah, #dunjealousme

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