Kavalan distillery is located in Taiwan and is owned by King Car Group who were established in 1956 and own several businesses in the fields of food, beverage, agriculure and biotechnology.

The first Kavalan whisky was released as recently as 2008.

Kavalan distillery and whisky is named after the Kavalan tribe who were the earliest tribe to inhabit Yilan.




Kavalan, Single Malt, NAS, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011 & MMA 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Light sunny amber

Nose: Slightly smoky glowing bonfire embers with a kind of dusty freshness followed by fruitiness care of a suggestion of vanilla and light banana.

Palate: Creamy toffee, faint caramel, honey and almond all wrapped in a fresh leafiness.

Finish; Quite long.

Overall Impression: Most enjoyable.

A Second review for MMA 2013

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Bright cork

Nose; An initial burst of lightly floral woodiness and vanilla soon fades giving way to a suggestion of gently perfumed, malty hay.

Palate; Definite hints of very floral hay and a faint woodiness as suggested by the nose. This woodiness is light and quite different to oakiness. There's also a slightly bitter fruitiness on the palate which leads into the long finish.

Finish; Long.

Overall Impression; I preferred the nose to the palate but it's still a good 'everyday' whisky, just not memorable.



Kavalan, King Car, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ (believed)

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011 & 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Light amber

Nose: Fresh coastal air with hints of raspberry. Some 'yellow' fruit in there too, alongside a  suggestion of light smokiness in the background.

Palate: Fruity, fresh and very distinct with a hint of pepperiness. There's a very faint suggestion of smokiness and also some light flora, but it's really quite light.

Finish; Medium to long but also quite light.

Overall Impression: A very good light and interesting whisky from Kavalan.

Revisited for MMA 2013

Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Glowing cork

Nose; Very aromatic with an unusual combination of oakiness, fresh raisin bread and a light fruitiness reminiscent of summer berries.

Palate; Raisins & coconut ... mmmmm nicely fruity and all quite intense.

Finish; Long with that lovely hint of fruity coconut.

Overall Impression; Very nice combination of fruitiness and coconuttiness all held together in harmony. I'm a sucker for coconut!




  Solist - non-sherry casks  


Kavalan, Solist, 57.1% ABV

Vinho Barrique, Cask No.W080225020, bottle No.171 of 192

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Very dark, extremely dark, I guess it's a sherry cask then?

Nose: Aromatic, fruity, lightly toasted and then something caressingly gentle in the background. I'm loving it already.

Palate: Intense? You bet it is. In fact multiply all on the nose x10 and you're getting close. Also quite dry or drying on the palate.

Finish; Almost never-ending ... thank goodness.

Overall Impression: A wonderful nose explodes onto the palate to more than fulfil all promises in a delightfully strong and intense way.




Kavalan, Solist, 56.3% ABV

Ex-Bourbon barrel, Cask No.R061113061, bottle No.169 of 170

OB for Whisky Club Taiwan

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2012


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Rich golden with a touch of brass

Nose: Lots of very aromatic sauna (lightly scorched wood) with lots of accompanying oils on stones. In fact it's very gentle and very aromatic with that light woodiness and settles down beautifully with more time in the glass.

delightfully fruity explosion with a light fruit cocktail and vanilla which soon turns quite tingly (black pepperiness?) as a suggestion of red berries develops.

Finish; Very long with a tingly fruitiness.

Overall Impression:
A quite gently civilised nose gives way to a positively fruity explosion on the palate. It's good, very good and yet another brilliant offering from Kavalan.




Kavalan, Solist, 57.1% ABV

Ex-Bourbon barrel, Cask No.B080816080, bottle No.9 of 210

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Pale yellow

Nose: Floral vanilla with a suggestion of redcurrant reminding me an English cottage summer garden. Then comes a hint of wood smoke like expanding bonfire embers. Nice.

Palate: This has a massive fruit-punch. I'm thinking green apple crumble complete with custard, but also a kind of earthiness from the light smokiness.

Finish; Extremely long and featuring that light smoky fruitiness.

Overall Impression: Fruit bomb with a lightly smoky, earthy punch to add another dimension. I love it.




Kavalan, Solist, 59% ABV

Ex-Bourbon barrel, Cask No.B070604002, bottle No.208 of 209

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Brassy yellow

Nose: Initially fresh and light but quite difficult to identify as it seems rather 'foody'; raost pork maybe?  This soon expands to include suggestions of cherries and vanilla, something slightly herbal too, but always light and subdued.

Palate: Creamy vanilla with a slightly dry or bitter fruitiness. Why am I reminded of vanilla and melon flavoured ice cream? Nice.

Finish; Long, fruity and slightly dry.

Overall Impression: Very good, I really like this Solist.




  Solist - sherry casks  


Kavalan, Sherry Oak, 46% ABV

Oloroso Sherry Casks

Kavalan OB exclusive for LMDW

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour: Very dark, liquorice, treacle toffee, ebony.

Nose: Suggestion of wood and leather giving it a deep luxurious richness, then dark cherries and plums for fruitiness. It's rich, deep, aromatic and all lightly toasted too.

Palate: Lots of dark fruitiness, furniture polish, aged oak and then that overall sense of being lightly toasted. Marvellous.

Finish: Very long and rich, does it have to end?

Overall Impression: Wonderfully rich and lightly toasted without being over-cooked. Bloody good? More like bloody Great!




Kavalan, Solist, 57.8% ABV

Sherry Cask, Cask No.S060821049, bottle No.201 of 512

Bottled exclusively for LMDW

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2013


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour: Beyond dark, almost black.

Nose: A truly surprising note here when I suggest it's mildly maritime. Then I detect a light rubberiness. Slightly sulphured? Perhaps but in a very pleasant way. This nose is unbelievably rich, I'm loving it.

Palate: Heavy, rich, massive, dry, toasted, earthy. Just enormous.

Finish: Extremely long and toasted. I could sit here all day by the fireside.

Overall Impression: The palate says it all; enormously marvellous.



MMA2015 Supreme Champion,

Supreme Winner Premium Category

and Gold Medal Winner

Kavalan Solist Cask No.S060904024


With a colour of rich dark treacle toffee, bordering almost on ebony this whisky is positively glowing as it proudly exudes its sherried attributes. Remember this is natural colour and non chill-filtered.

The Nose immediately suggests rich roasted coffee, followed shortly afterwards by black cherries and raisins. Are there also hints of dark chocolate and toasted tropical fruits in there too? Maybe. What I do know is that this is wonderfully rich, deep, aromatic and with further suggestions of even more hidden depths to be found.

The Palate is fantastically smooth with a mildly dry mouth-feel preceding an explosion of Arabica coffee shielding a gentle, mostly almond nuttiness and the most wonderful dark chocolate, rich in cacao. This is all just so bold and inviting in the way only a truly great sherry cask matured whisky can be.

The Finish is long-lasting and I sit here just wanting it to continue forever.

Overall Impression this just offers so much richness and quality but yet with subtle hints of so much more. It's a true Great by a country mile!



Best Sherry Cask (joint winner)

Premium Category

and Gold Medal Winner MMA 2015

Kavalan Solist Cask No.S081229019


The colour is one of dark toasted oak, not quite so ebony-like as the previous one (cask S060904024) but still rich, dark, clean and almost glowing.

The Nose is a little slow to develop here, but give it a little time and your patience will be well rewarded firstly with hints of creamy chocolate. In fact I'm reminded of a particularly rich and heavy hot chocolate in a certain Italian cafe in Meran, Süd Tirol. A little more patience is equally rewarded with the suggestion of mild coffee and an almost smoky, oaky fruitiness.

The Palate offers some delightful creaminess in the mouth-feel as the hints of chocolate and coffee transcend from the nose into the palate. Then comes that fruitiness, not just cherries, raisins and maybe currants, but something quite tropical in character. Finally, some caramel-style traits lead into the finish which is long, rich and creamily luxurious with that cherriness, coffee-ness and chocolatey-ness.



Best Sherry Cask (joint winner)

Premium Category

and Gold Medal Winner

Kavalan Solist Cask No.S081229020


The colour offers rich, very dark oak with an almost freshly-polished glow.

The Nose quite unbelievably initially suggests creamy Brasso. Did I really say that? A nose that reminds me of a renowned (UK) brass polish? Well, yes it does, but that's not a bad thing as I'm reminded of trips and holidays to my beloved Yorkshire Dales and the wonderful outdoor adventures of those heady times whilst staying in an old coaching house turned into outdoor centre par-excellence. The Brasso soon fades to be replaced by a light fruitiness which almost has a syrupy character with a hint of tinniness? Oh my, Brasso and tins? I guess what I find here is more akin to one of those cans of fruit cocktail that were so popular in the 70's & 80's. Again not a bad thing, just my olfactory senses playing tricks with more long-forgotten memories and experiences.

The Palate has a slightly dry woodiness which soon expands to include a suggestion of fruit cocktail, but unlike the nose this is much more exotic with hints of mango and papaya alongside dark cherries and all swimming in fresh double cream. There's also a mild (black-) pepperiness which complements everything rather nicely.

The finish has a medium length but is filled with that tropical fruitiness and just the slightest hint of pipe tobacco right at the end.


Overall Impression(s) These last two Kavalans are actually sister casks and both OB bottlings for Asia Palate Association. Having said they're sister casks, they are quite different in character with S081229019 starting a little slowly but then opening to offer lots of rich, typically sherried delights. In slight contrast S081229020 is lighter and perhaps more fruity, especially with that exotically fruity character and mild pepperiness on the palate. They're both fantastic whiskies but for me the lighter S081229020 just has the edge over S081229019. Could it be that Brasso memory? Quite possibly.









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