Whiskylive 2017: Kavalan

At first glance, it seems unfathomable that contemporary 3-4 yo Taiwanese whisky should gain ‘under the counter’ status at a whisky festival, hidden from the public gaze and undisclosed to a potentially wider customer base. Price wise however it makes sense given the Solist single cask bottlings are currently retailing for £335 [TWE Apr ’17]. On top of that, this young Taiwanese distillery is selling whisky from the Solist range faster than they can produce it. It’s quite a phenomena given you can acquire a 1967 48yo Scotch WB for the same money as an Asian 3yo. Crazy and exciting times.

Guided by his knowledge & expertise of sherry & whisky, Nathan took Chris and I through the ‘under the counter’ Solist range.


Kavalan Manzanilla.jpg

Kavalan Solist Manzanilla 2011/2016 Ob. cask #MA110223010A [561 bts] 57.8% WB85[1]

  • N: Toffee sweet with varnished [Cognac] cherry notes.
  • T: Works remarkably well at strength.
  • F: All good,…
  • C: …. and in no time we were onto the next.

Scores 88 points


Kavalan Solist Amontillado 2010/2016 Ob. cask #AM100618018A [509 bts] 55.6% WB0

Kavalan Amontillado.jpg

  • N: Following on from the Manzanilla, this has an even sweeter nose with a Mortlach-like character.
  • T: Meatier
  • F: Rounder
  • C: Can’t fault it.

Scores 89 points


Kavalan Solist Moscatel 2010/2016 Ob. cask #MO100623031A [530 bts] 56.3% WB87.75[4]

Kavalan moscatel.jpg

  • N: Wine sweet with mineral notes.
  • T: Woody dessert wine.
  • F: Sweet, light fresh
  • C: Despite the wine references, overall I found it more Cognac-like in nature – the grape the common denominator. Not quite as convincing as either of the previous two, but still it scores a thoroughly impressive 87 points.


Kavalan PX.jpg

Kavalan Solist PX 2010/2016 Ob. cask #PX100714032A [547 bts] 56.3% WB88.75[4]

C: This is fabulously woody with the illusion of much greater age. Furthermore, it’s complex and full bodied with lovely form. An instant winner, equal to the Amontillado.

Scores 89 points


Kavalan ‘Podium’ NAS [2017] Ob. 46% WB85[94] WF85 WM82[1]

Kavalan Podium.jpg

  • N: Spongy and inevitably soft in comparison to the previous four cask strength ‘Solists’, but I was given this to try afterwards in order to appreciate the inherent distillery house style that’s identifiable within the Kavalan core range as well as the single casks. Hazy but good, sweet>vegetal funk.
  • T: Funky and yet focused, full yet soft.
  • F: Raw, yet controlled.
  • C: A competent ‘budget’ Kavalan, though at £66 [TWE 2017] is hardly cheap.

Scores 83 points


Note to self:

I’m going to have to get to know sherry if i’m to understand sherry cask whisky.